Peninsula Players Theatre presents a reading of Joseph Zettelmaier’s latest theatrical project entitled “Haunted: The Great Lakes Ghost Project” on Monday, March 2, at 7 p.m. at Björklunden, located at 7590 Boynton Lane, Baileys Harbor. Zettelmaier is a four-time nominee for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award. Limited general seating is available, and admission is free.
Several years ago Joe Zettelmaier, a Michigan-based playwright, began a journey across the Great Lakes States to collect a wide variety of ghost stories; true otherworldly encounters by Midwesterners from Indiana to Wisconsin. From these stories came a devised theatrical piece, weaving tales of the supernatural with one person’s journey to answer the question that has haunted so many of us throughout our lives…“Do you believe in ghosts?”
He traveled to various communities in search of ghost towns. “In the summer of 2017, I started a project,” Zettelmaier explains in his play. “For two months, I’d collect ghost stories, specifically ghost stories that happened in the Midwest. Even more specifically, stories that happened in the Great Lakes States.” He also opened his website to submissions and was thrilled with the number and quality he received. “Some legitimately gave me chills,” he said.
Zettelmaier did collect several stories on his journey and then compiled them with several of the submitted vignettes and supernatural events to create a devised theatrical experience. Zettelmaier needed a framing device to weave the collected stories together, so he created the character of an author who serves as the narrator connecting the stories.
“The play is the story of me collecting the stories and me coming to terms with my own ghost story,” Zettelmaier said in an interview with WEMU, a Michigan public radio station.
“I have several pieces of horror theater because that is what people wanted.” His other supernatural plays include “Dr. Seward’s Dracula,” “Ebenezer,” “Do Not Disturb(ed)” and “The Gravedigger: A Frankenstein Play.”
In 2018, Peninsula Players produced Zettelmaier’s two-person drama “Salvage.” His other plays include comedies such as “All Childish Things” about a group of friends who are Star Wars fans and “Invasive Species” about a lonely fisherman who becomes the target of a DNR investigation. In 2011, his play “Dead Man’s Shoes” won the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award.
Cast in the reading are Peninsula Players veteran performers from the 2019 world premiere of “A Trick of the Light,” Cassandra Bissell (“Silent Sky,” “Miss Holmes”), Neil Brookshire (“Silent Sky,” “A Murders is Announced,” “The 39 Steps”) and Hayley Burgess. Joining them is Door Shakespeare’s Managing Director, Amy Ensign (“Almost, Maine.”) Bissell, Brookshire and Ensign call Door County home and have numerous professional stage credits, including Bissell and Brookshire’s recent performance as Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy in “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” for Company of Fools in Idaho. The cast is under the direction of Greg Vinkler, the Peninsula Players’ artistic director.
“Haunted: The Great Lakes Ghost Project” is part of the Peninsula Players winter program, The Play’s the Thing, and is funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin, as well as generous grants from Door County Medical Center, Friends of Door County Libraries and operating funds from Peninsula Players Theatre.
The Play’s the Thing 2020 series also includes “Eternity” by Wisconsin native Michael Cochran on Monday, April 6, at 7 p.m. at Björklunden.
Peninsula Players Theatre is America’s Oldest Professional Resident Summer Theatre. The Play’s the Thing is part of the Players’ continuing winter outreach programming, presenting professional play readings for the public. Season and group tickets are now on sale for the 2020 season. Single ticket sales begin on March 1. Learn more about Peninsula Players 2020 season at www.peninsulaplayers.com.