Special Events at Heartland



“BOSWELL” by Milwaukee Playwright Marie Kohler

Directed by Rhys Lovell

Saturday, December 8 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00 pm

The focus is the play itself in development.  Actors will read the script on stools on stage. Three credentialed responders will be in attendance December 8

$5 Donation at the door.  Reservations: 309.452.8709 or email boxoffice@heartlandtheatre.org

All proceeds are donated to Heartland Theatre Company

Featuring Brian Mani*, Core Company Member of Wisconsin’s American Players Theatre.

Brian Mani has been a Wisconsin-based performer for over thirty years.  He attended and graduated from the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee in 1987.

In Milwaukee, he has worked with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, Next Act Theater, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, First Stage Milwaukee.  In the Chicago area, he has performed with Drury Lane Theatre at Oakbrook Terrace and the Marriott Theatre, in Lincolnshire.  In Madison, he’s worked with Madison Repertory Theater, Children’s Theater of Madison, and this spring will appear with Forward Theater Company in Marjorie Prime.

His artistic home, where he serves as Core Company Member, is at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, where he will soon be appearing in his 19th season.  His resume there includes major roles in A View from the Bridge, The Unexpected Man, Death of a Salesman, Endgame, Merry Wives of Windsor, The Doctor’s Dilemma, American Buffalo, Much Ado About Nothing, Skylight, Twelfth Night, Of Mice and Men, The Gift of the Magi, and dozens more.

Brian has also performed at a guest artist at University of Nevada-Las Vegas and University of Tennessee’s Clarence Brown Theatre.  Brian’s work in independent films include performances in “Expecting Mercy,” “Madison” and “Christmas Trees.”  all Wisconsin produced and shot films. Brian has also provided the voice of J. R. Tolkien in, “Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination & the Quest for Meaning.” As an actor, he has performed in over thirty musicals.  Some favorites include Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, and Stone in City of Angels.

*Member, Actors’ Equity Association

About the play:

Celebrating the power of travel, friendship and the written word, BOSWELL shines a light on a colorful literary figure from Scotland’s past:  James Boswell (1740-1795).

Grounded in the friendship between James Boswell and his more famous friend, Samuel Johnson, BOSWELL reimagines the pair’s “Tour to the Hebrides” in 1773, interweaving it with scenes as Boswell’s journals are uncovered by Joan, an American graduate student, doing research in the 1950’s at Boswell’s Scottish estate (now presided over by a female descendant).  Speaking through his somewhat bawdy journals and bittersweet life experiences, Boswell’s voice challenges Joan to move towards greater authenticity — and fun!

In August, 2019, BOSWELL will be presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

About the playwright, Marie Kohler:

Named “Artist of the Year” by the Milwaukee Arts Board, Marie Kohler has written five plays, all of which have been produced and received significant recognition. COUNTING DAYS earned a nomination for the American Association of Theater Critics’ “Best New Regional Play.” MIDNIGHT AND MOLL FLANDERS earned “Best New Play of 2000” from Milwaukee Magazine. BOSWELL’S DREAMS was named “Best of the Year” by Milwaukee Magazine in 2005. THE DIG, 2009, was nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (along with BOSWELL’S DREAMS and COUNTING DAYS). THE WITCHHOUSE is her current work-in-progress.

A co-founder of Renaissance Theaterworks, Kohler served as its Co-Artistic Director for a 20 year tenure, and its Resident Playwright for 25 years.  She has been a member of the professional Milwaukee theater community for over two decades as an actor, producer, director and dramaturg as well as a freelance writer for local and national publications. She has served twice as a respondent at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. A member of The Dramatists Guild, Chicago Dramatists Workshop, The Playwrights’ Center, Actors’ Equity Association, Kohler also serves on the board of the Wisconsin Humanities Council. Marie was Heartland’s Guest Playwright for our 2018 New Plays from the Heartland.

Raised in Wisconsin, Kohler holds a BA from Harvard University (magna cum laude) and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her long-held passion for theater and language have inspired her body of work. She lives in Milwaukee and Spring Green, Wisconsin with her actor husband, Brian Mani.

THE PLAY’S THE THING: New Play Reading at Heartland

A new play reading of a full length play in development with audience participation, using Heartland actors playing the roles, simply staged on stools on Heartland’s stage. Invited credentialed responders help the audience understand play process and structure.

“I’ll have grounds

More relative than this —

the play’s the thing

Wherein I’ll catch the

conscience of the King.

-Hamlet, Act 2, scene 2