Your Regional Guide To The Performing Arts

Theater RED Prepares to Take the Stage with World Premiere of THE WAYWARD WOMEN

Theater RED Prepares to Take the Stage with World Premiere of THE WAYWARD WOMEN
Photo Credit: Theater Red

One of the things that seems to keep Milwaukee’s theatre scene so rich and vibrant are the smaller theatre companies that continue to be realized by groups of area artists. They bring about a sense of ambition and creativity through their works – which often include newer pieces, up-and-coming artists, and topical messages.  Theater RED, founded by Christopher Elst and Marcee Doherty-Elst, is no exception to this. Since their inception in 2013, Theater RED has produced a variety of shows that have helped shape the theatre community of Milwaukee.

Imagine – a typical evening around the dining room table. Christopher and Marcee had invited over friend/playwright Jared McDaris, who was visiting at the time from Chicago. Jared brought a new play he had been working on, 1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS, for them to read. After an impromptu performance around the table, Christopher and Marcee knew they needed to bring his play to life. “We’d been fortunate to work with different directors at different theaters, big and small, and we knew that within our circle of friends and contacts we knew folks that could do most, if not all, of the technical aspects of the production,” says co-founder Marcee Doherty-Elst 

And just like that, Theater RED was born. Their new organization was built around three strong tenets that could be found in McDaris’ play:

- Substantial roles for women.

- Growth in craft for artists.

- New works by promising artists.

 These tenets have played a core part of all of Theater RED’s productions. This can probably best be seen in their upcoming production – THE WAYWARD WOMEN. Also a premiere production written by McDaris, THE WAYWARD WOMEN is an Elizabethan-style comedy inspired by William Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT. Cordelius (played by Tim Rebers), a Swiss Nobleman, and his bondman Julian (played by Zach Thomas Woods) are cast by mischance upon the isle of Amosa, where women rule and men are the gentler sex.  The Duchess Penti Celia (played by Ali Rice) welcomes them to the Festival of the New Moon, but celebrations are marred by the egomaniacal sparring of her wastrel knights, Dame Anu (played by Maddie Wakley) and Dame Grendela (played by Jennifer Larson). Posturing, singing, seducing, and all manner of cunning color the Dames’ plots to embarrass and one-up another, and the poor men soon find themselves hapless pawns in their game. With overt nods to HAMLET and MACBETH, and some allusion to other Shakespeare classics, THE WAYWARD WOMEN is a comedy-pastoral about generational norms, fluid morality (and gender roles), and good-old-fashioned sex.

“Female actors are limited in the types of roles they can play – the ingénue, the mother, the supporting friend, and the old lady/witch,” says co-founder Christopher Elst. “Take Romeo and Juliet, for example; you have Juliet, Lady Capulet (or Montague), the Nurse, and then the Apothecary. These are the common 4 archetypes for women.  In THE WAYWARD WOMEN, Jared has written roles for women that go beyond those traditional roles and provides an opportunity for women to play character types typically played by male actors.”

Performances of THE WAYWARD WOMEN will take place July 13-15 and 19-22 at 7:30 p.m. at The Alchemist Theatre, located at 2569 S Kinnickinnic Ave in Bayview, Wisconsin. And what’s next on the horizon for Theater RED? “We are getting ready to announce our next show, which is a joint collaboration with Milwaukee Opera Theatre that we are so excited about! We are also thrilled to continue our collaboration with the inimitable Angela Iannone and will be bringing another one of her new plays from her Edwin Booth cycle to the stage for the last show in our season,” shares Marcee.

It’s safe to say big things lie ahead for Marcee, Christopher, Theater RED, and the artists lucky enough to join them on each inspiring, educational, theatrical endeavor.

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