Ben Franklin & Baron von Steuben vs. the Paine County School Board

Individuals of all political persuasions invoke the “Founding Fathers” to justify their positions – but have you ever wondered what the Founding Fathers themselves would think?

That’s the question at the heart of Ben Franklin & Baron von Steuben vs. the Paine County School Board, a play from TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater.

The play is inspired by a little-known historical fact – Baron von Steuben, the Revolutionary War hero credited with transforming the Continental Army into a force capable of beating the British, was a gay man. When a history teacher in the fictitious Paine County School District teaches this, and conservative school board members get wind of it, the stage is set for dramatic confrontation.

All this proves a bit much for Franklin and von Steuben, who’ve been observing the action from the Great Beyond. They decide to risk intervening in contemporary affairs to set the record straight, successfully transforming controversy into comedy and demonstrating that even if history doesn’t repeat itself, it will still try almost anything to get your attention.

Written by Danielle Dresden, Ben Franklin & Baron von Steuben vs. the Paine County School Board is directed by Stephen F. Murray and performed by Francisco Torres, Krystal Lonsdale, Liz Light, Issac Brieske, Donna Peckett, and Dresden. Peckett and Dresden, TAPIT/new works’ producing artistic directors, will play the parts of von Steuben and Ben Franklin in drag. Stage manager Emily Morrison-Weeks, costume designer Rebecca Sites, lighting designer Patricia Micetic, and graphic artist Michael Duffy round out the production staff.


This production is supported, in part, by the New Harvest Foundation; the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts; DANE ARTS; the Neil Allen Peckett Memorial Fund of TAPIT/new works.