Falconbridge Players to offer live dramatic readings

Shakespeare, Conan the Barbarian and feminists featured in selected scripts.

A classic theater troupe is bringing live entertainment back to the Madison area with free dramatic readings of some of the best scripts of yesteryear. The Falconbridge Players will turn the lawn of Esser Place in Middleton into an outdoor playhouse on three weekend afternoons in October.

When Jason Compton started Falconbridge in 2019, he didn’t expect to be forced to shut down just a year later along with the rest of the performing arts world.

“All of us were wondering what it would take to find a way to create and collaborate when the rules were not just restrictive, but subject to frequent change,” says Compton, reflecting on the past few months of capacity rules and distancing guidelines.

“In a modest act of rebellion, we ended up reading [a Modern English verse translation of Chaucer’s original] ‘Troilus and Cressida’ in my living room,” he says.

The Falconbridge Players are now ready to get off the couch  in front of an audience at Esser Place.

First the group will put on “Sweaty Swordsmen & Swinging Sailors,” a compilation of the work of Robert E. Howard. Howard’s most famous character, Conan the Barbarian, will certainly make an appearance, as well as other creations from the father of sword and sorcery fiction mat the 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 3.

“It is definitely not every day you can hear Conan’s ‘By Crom!’ powerfully shouted across the lawn or tales from sailor Steve Costigan, the toughest boxer on the seas,” Compton says.

The following week, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, the Esser Place lawn will host actors reading Dorothy Parker’s “Men I’m Not Married To” and “Suppressed Desires” by Susan Glaspell and George Cram Cook. Both works are satirical, offering commentary on dating culture, a woman’s role in society and Freudian psychology.

And for those yearning for something from the Bard himself, Madison Shakespeare will take over the yard and render William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” tentatively, at 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 18.

Compton says he is delighted to soon be sharing these wildly different works with the greater Madison area — especially as the pandemic has left many folks searching for performance art.

“I feel very creatively fulfilled and satisfied when I’m collaborating with people on brand-new works and lesser-loved, older, public domain works,” Compton says.

“There is a way you experience life when you are unencumbered by compression algorithms and headsets and bandwidth that cannot be duplicated digitally,” he adds. “Live collaborative art is an important way to experience that side of life and express ourselves in it, and I will keep doing my part to share those experiences with others.”

While the performances are free, attendees must RSVP on the Falconbridge Players website and are asked to provide their own chairs in which to sit at a safe distance from one another.

Sam Jones is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine.