About Us

Mercury Players Theatre’s Mission Statement

Mercury Players is a company of theatre artists. We are dedicated to creating exceptional productions of original, new and unusual plays.  With our work, we challenge participants and audiences to see themselves and their world with a fresh perspective.

History of the Company

Mercury was founded by Paul Wells in 1994, with the mission of performing vital published works. With a nod to Orson Welles, Paul named this company Mercury Players Theatre. The charter production in September of 1994 was Family Life: Three Brutal Comedies by Wendy Hammond, short playlets depicting child abuse in an absurd, cartoonish, theatrical style.

With its first production, Mercury Players established a reputation in Madison, Wisconsin, for doing interesting and adventurous work, with a special emphasis on black comedy. From the beginning, Mercury has also produced at least one locally-written work per season: collections of short pieces by various local playwrights, or full-length plays and musicals.

Mercury also introduced 24 Hours from Page to Stage events to Madison. These “Blitz” shows, in which writers stay up all night writing short plays, actors have from 10am to 8pm to learn all their lines, and designers have less than 12 hours to create sets, props, costumes, sound and lighting, ran every year – sometimes over multiple days and weekends – from 2000–2011. There was also a special “Lucky Edition” Blitz XIII event in 2013. In 2014, Mercury teamed up with OUT!CAST Theatre and KnowBetter Productions to create the Ball Drop Blitz on New Year’s Eve; this new twist on an old tradition continues to this day. The Blitz has given hundreds and hundreds of people the opportunity to write, direct, design, or act in a play. 

Mercury Players is a 501(c)3 non-profit theater company.

Artistic Directors following Paul were Marcy Weiland (1995–2001), Carrie Novitzke (2001–2004), Pete Rydberg (2004–2007), Casey Grimm (2007–2008), and Rachel Jenkins-Bledsoe (2008–2011). From 2011 to the present, play selection has been guided by President Bonnie Balke with input and assistance from dozens of directors and playwrights.

Celebrated Mercury Players productions have included:

  • The Pillowman (Martin McDonagh)
  • August: Osage County and Bug (Tracy Letts)
  • The Rocky Horror Show (Richard O’Brien)
  • Temp Slave: the Musical and Walmartopia (original: Catherine Capellaro and Andrew Rohn)
  • Balm in Gilead (Lanford Wilson)
  • Escape from Happiness (George F. Walker)
  • Cementville (Jane Martin)
  • The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (Edward Albee)
  • Jeffrey and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told (Paul Rudnick)
  • the long christmas ride home (Paula Vogel)
  • Skin Tight (Gary Henderson)