American Players Theatre (APT) is a professional theater located outside Spring Green, Wisconsin. They produce nine plays annually for over 100,000 audience members. APT ranks as the country’s second largest outdoor theater devoted to the classics. Brenda DeVita has worked at American Players Theatre for over two decades, serving as artistic director since 2014.
“I am incredibly honored to be the 2023 recipient of the Arts Midwest Peter Capell Award,” said DeVita. “[Capell’s] example of creative thinking and his insistence that the arts are for everyone is inspiring to me. As a native Midwesterner, I have always been passionate about the need for access to the arts in areas the world has deemed too remote.”
DeVita has led APT’s efforts to become an equitable space that is welcoming for all people. She recently worked to launch Creating the Classics of Tomorrow, a program that commissions and develops new plays by BIPOC playwrights. She also developed and nurtured APT’s actor program, the Core Acting Company, and their renowned Voice and Text Program. During the COVID-19 pandemic, DeVita maintained APT’s audience by creating eleven productions that were streamed to thousands of patrons.
“Brenda has a track record of working effectively with others to drive the continuing success of American Players Theatre in Wisconsin and beyond,” said Peter Capell. “In putting the audience and the quality of work on the stage first and foremost, Brenda has led a strong and successful organization, even during the challenging pandemic dynamics. APT has maintained its fine financial footing and remains a critical and popular success as a result. This was accomplished while building a strong value-based culture of collaboration and inclusivity—all of which underscores this award’s focus on entrepreneurial thinking, creative accomplishments and community commitment.”
“One of my proudest accomplishments is that our audience here at American Players Theatre is peopled with my neighbors, the farmers up the road, the teachers and healthcare workers and their families, all who have built this theatre over the past 45 years,” said DeVita. “It has been my life’s privilege to serve this audience and lend a hand in developing the artists that can live and thrive here in the Midwest. Our artists deserve that; our communities deserve it as well. We are all better for it.”
The winner of the inaugural award in 2022 was Tyrone Phillips, founding artistic director of Definition Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. Definition Theatre celebrates stories created with, inspired by, and intended for individuals and communities of color.
The Peter Capell Award for Midwestern Creativity & Entrepreneurship celebrates Midwesterners in the creative sector whose work demonstrates entrepreneurial thinking and business acumen. It was created in 2022 to honor longtime Arts Midwest Board member and former Board Chair Peter Capell. The 2023 award was open to individuals located in Wisconsin. The 2024 award will be available next summer, with more details to come in spring 2024.