New nonprofit is ‘Shakespeare out of a trunk’


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The Summit Players team performed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as their closing show this season

Paige Lloyd

Summit Players Theatre, a group of seven Marquette alumni, spent the summer performing renditions of short Shakespearean plays across 13 state parks for five weeks.

Their love for theatre fueled this project and inspired the group to apply to become a nonprofit, which will generate more recognition in Wisconsin and allow them to accept donations to continue this project.

Summit Player Hannah Klapperich-Mueller, College of Communication ’15, looked back on the past season with pride.

“We weren’t entirely sure if this was something we could continue,” she said. “This summer proved to have such a successful run that we decided to do it again. We have this knowledge base and look forward to ways we can grow.”

The process of becoming a nonprofit hasn’t changed the group’s original mission to donate half of their fundraising profits to other youth arts organizations. Kallerich-Mueller said they gave about $850 to Express Yourself Milwaukee, an organization that has a big show each year with urban youth who don’t typically have access to art.

Summit Players strives to develop the elements of its shows as well.

“Last year was really fun because we described it as Shakespeare out of a trunk,” she said. “Everything was a little bit hodgepodge, but that was part of the charm. This year, we are looking at having more of purposeful design to our costumes and our ‘set’ that may still remain as a picnic table.”

Creating a show from few resources demonstrates the group’s ability to use their imaginations. They continue to brainstorm ideas for improvement.

“We have been talking a lot recently about how to continue what we did last year, but to make it bigger and better,” Klapperich-Mueller said.

Kaitlyn Martin, stage manager and technician and College of Communication ’15, explained how the group hopes to create a more defined design element to its productions.

“This year we are hoping, by way of scene design, to have a little more slip of hand,” Martin said. “At the beginning of the show, our set looks a little unassuming, but we have surprises along the way that our actors could unfold or appear out of nowhere. It looks stripped down, but there can be visually engaging pieces as the production unfolds.”

The new aspects of the play will add a spin to the performances. The group looks forward to the upcoming season.

“Even though it may sound corny, we are making a difference,” Martin said. “We are making the theatre we want to see and kind of fill a gap for free educational Shakespeare in Wisconsin. It is awesome to prop up my fellow classmates and alumni and their dreams.”