International Interior Design Association (IIDA) WI Awards
The Next Great Stage
In partnership with American Players Theater (APT), Strang sought to create a world-class theater facility within a limited budget by using ordinary off-the-shelf materials in innovative ways to create an experience that captured the essence and culture of APT’s outdoor, wooded aesthetic. With APT in it’s 36th season of use, their stage was approaching the end of its functional life. This launched their campaign to create “The Next Great Stage”.
Strang designed this project comprising a new theater and a production support building for American Players Theatre at their wooded campus in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
"The Touchstone, 12 years later, is a glorious theatre space which has been and continues to be central to the growth in our ever-evolving identity as an artistic organization. It has stood the test of time with a design aesthetic that perfectly honors our past and continues to speak to our future."
Brenda DeVita, Artistic Director, APT
The 11,000 square foot Touchstone Theatre houses a 200-seat theater, a lobby, concessions, will call, dressing rooms, and a green room for 16 actors. Strang collaborated with APT, theatrical, and acoustical consultants to create the infrastructure necessary to support repertory theatre and allow for its optimal functionality.
The lobby and patio are designed to provide for a seamless transition between interior and the landscape with a high degree of transparency, evoking the theme of the “Theatre in the Woods”. The spatial flow and continuity of the lobby and patio make them a particularly attractive venue for special events.
The transformation of the APT campus into a year-round facility presented unique design challenges. Site selection and design balanced the idea of an idyllic procession through woods with the practical aspects of accessibility. The design of the site seeks to capture the unique “experience” that is APT, beginning with an idyllic picnic dinner in the woods, followed by a walk up a gently lit path flanked by a wooded wetland and a restored prairie. Ultimately, patrons arrive at the engaging, natural surroundings of the theatre.
The 14,000 square foot Production Support Building is an economical, functional, and efficient facility which is compatible with the overall image and experience of APT. The building houses a paint/scene shop, offices, rehearsal hall, and storage. With a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of scene shop functions, our in-house mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers ensured seamless integration of the fume exhaust system in the facility.
This project was a complete rebuild of the stage and backstage area while carefully preserving the rustic sophistication of this beloved “Theatre in the Woods”. The upstage backdrop was designed with hinged panels that open the view to the landscape beyond. The addition of a trap to the stage is a welcome improvement that has greatly enhanced APT’s productions.
The outdoor amphitheater’s upgrades improved acoustics and sight lines, handrails, and a loop system to improve assistive listening. A new catwalk over the stage provides much needed safety for the stagehands and significantly improved lighting positions. Extensive improvements to the backstage and support areas, include new rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, scenery and prop storage and improved vehicular service access.