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ACAP Playmakers collaborate with Civic Theatre

BY JODY MAYERS - Special to TimeOut

July 10, 2014

 

WAUKESHA - If you’re looking for something unique to do this weekend and are already tired of shaking sand out of every toy your child insists on packing for a day at the beach, head to The Waukesha Civic Theatre.

The Adaptive Community Approach Program Playmakers, an inclusive theater troupe made up of community actors with and without disabilities in a variety of age groups, will be performing ‘The Tortoise And The Hare: The Rematch!’

The show runs from today through Sunday and is the 12th collaboration between the WCT and ACAP Playmakers in nine seasons.

Patty Chones, director of the ACAP Playmakers, has been with the group since its creation, and said the upcoming production is a parody of the classic Aesop Fable, but with a twist about winning and losing.

“It’s a family-friendly show that explores what it really means to be a winner,” she said.

The partnership between the WCT and ACAP began in 2006. Each year, members and community actors associated with the theater team up to produce and perform several productions throughout the year. The ACAP has been serving people with disabilities throughout Waukesha County for more than 30 years. Chones said the biggest reward as director is seeing people with disabilities show off their abilities on stage to audiences and in rehearsals to their nondisabled cast members.

“This collaboration with the Waukesha Civic Theatre is in its ninth year and has seen growth not only in the production quality but in the personal growth of the cast members,” she said.

Chones said the production this weekend is original and explores what happened after the famous race between the Tortoise and the Hare.  The great upset victory changed the Tortoise and the Hare in very different ways. Although losing is a condition that no one relishes, winning has its own problems to consider. In the process of regaining his sense of pride and purpose, the Hare must wrestle with many questions about winning and losing, which impels him to search for the answers. His ego tempts him to return to his old ways, while his friend, Shrew, points him to a better way.

“The show features music parodies of such songs as “Lido Shuffle,” “Honesty,” and “Zoot Suit Riot” sung by the cast,” she said. “Many hours of rehearsal have gone into this effort to learn song lyrics, dance steps, and scene changes. We have certainly learned that we need each person’s efforts to make the show work.”

Chones said this production was the quickest production schedule to date for the ACAP PlayMakers, starting in late April for performances in July. Typically, the production takes around five months.

“The greatest challenge in undertaking such a project is to coordinate multiple accommodations for a large cast,” she said. “With mobility devices and communication devices being employed during the show, it is necessary to figure out alternative ways to choreograph movements and character roles.”

John Cramer, managing artistic director of the WCT said teaming up with the ACAP goes beyond stage, as well.

“We have also worked together on anti-bullying workshops as part of our outreach program, taking the workshop into the schools in our community,” he said. “This relationship, like so many that we have with countless organizations and businesses, is vital to WCT and to the community, bringing more people together from all walks of life to serve the community with enriching, challenging, and entertaining programs.”

Chones said she has experienced quiet, shy people come to life on stage.

“For some reason, performing a role frees individuals from many of the labels and limits that are often imposed upon them,” she said. “The synergy between this diverse collection of people is amazing to experience from a director’s perspective as well as from an audience’s perspective.”

Cramer said every theatrical performance relies on the cast, crew, and staff to bring the story to life, and this show is no exception. 

“Hours of rehearsal and preparation, both as a group and on your own, are required of every person involved in the show,” he said. “Actors will give 75 to 150 hours of their valuable time to help create the collaborative art that is shared with the community.”

Chones said she is grateful to the WCT for the continued collaboration and hopes the audience takes away the message that everyone has a gift to share.

“This is wide variety of people coming together to share talents and abilities on a project that benefits everyone,” she said.

The WCT is Waukesha’s cultural cornerstone, starting its 58th season, and deserves the support of the community for providing a wide range of entertainment and educational opportunities throughout the year, Cramer said.

“When you look at our calendar of events, you can see that we have nearly 80 different, unique performances, and more than 60 theater arts education offerings over the season, which runs from July 1 through June 30, 2015” he said. “ACAP provides incredible services and benefits to the community, as well, and our partnership is a rare one.  I don’t know of any other theaters that partner with an organization like ACAP, and the productions we present are inspiring and uplifting.”

At a glance

What: “The Tortoise And The Hare: The Rematch”

When: Shows are at 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today and Friday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Waukesha Civic Theatre, 264 W. Main St., Waukesha

Tickets: $10 for adults, $8 for students, seniors and military

Phone: 262-547-0708

Website: www.waukeshacivictheatre.org