Milwaukee Black Theater Festival

August 23 - September 12

One hundred and seventy-nine bridges connect Milwaukee. The bridge of Theater connects individuals and communities through the empathy produced by both creating and experiencing it. The Milwaukee Black Theater Festival will be Milwaukee’s one hundred and eightieth bridge, connecting Milwaukee’s Black community, its Black theater community, and the rest of the city. By amplifying and celebrating Black voices, this annual citywide event will create highly visible critical mass for Black narratives and focus the energy of theater on the conversation about how Milwaukee can exist as its best self for every Black individual who chooses to call it home.

The Festival is a multigenerational collaborative endeavor between Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Lights! Camera! Soul!, Bronzeville Arts Ensemble, Black Arts MKE, MPower Theater Group, as well as other notable Black Milwaukee independent artists, and arts leaders.

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Sales have now ended for the 2020 Milwaukee Black Theater Festival

INSIDE THE FESTIVAL:

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Full-Length Readings

Directed by Mikael Burke

Featuring:

  • Miles Coppage

  • DiMonte Henning*

  • Chiké Johnson*

  • Sherrick Robinson

Directed by Malkia Stampley

Featuring:

  • Cynthia Cobb*

  • Krystal Drake*

  • Malaina Moore

  • Nadja Simmonds

  • Camara Stampley

Directed by Sheri Williams Pannell

Featuring:

  • DiMonte Henning*

  • Chiké Johnson*

  • Nadja Simmonds

  • Malkia Stampley*

Artist Responses and Thematic Content

Inspired by

KILL MOVE PARADISE

BECAUSE IT'S BLACK

written and performed by Gavin Lawrence

A Mother's Fight 

written and performed by La'Ketta Caldwell 

GONE

written and performed by Klassik

I Can't Breathe 

written and performed by Shonn Hinton, video created by Chiké Johnson

Curated Playlist

by Tarik Moody

ViewPoints with Jarrett English hosted by Leah Harris

ViewPoints with Syd Robbie hosted by Leah Harris

Resources for Further Engagement

Talkbacks hosted by Mikael Burke (Live!)

Wednesday, September 2nd at 7pm

Thursday, September 10th at 7pm

Inspired by

STEW

Everything (I Am Woman)

written and performed by B~Free

Her Name Was

written and performed by SistaStrings

In the Kitchen

podcast by Lights! Camera! Soul!

20/20 LOOP

written by Olivia Dawson, produced by MPower Theater Group

Eating Stew

written and performed by Dasha Kelly Hamilton

Curated Playlist

by Tarik Moody

ViewPoints with Dr. Monique Liston hosted by Leah Harris

Resources for Further Engagement

Talkback hosted by Malkia Stampley (Live!)

Tuesday, September 1st at 7pm

Talkback hosted by Nadja Simmonds (Live!)

Wednesday, September 9th at 7pm

Inspired by

HOME

Finding my Way

written and performed by Quinten Farr

Therapy

written and performed by Lachrisa Grandberry

Return

dance by Cedric Gardner, music by Kwasi Stampley

Curated Playlist

by Tarik Moody

ViewPoints with Deanna Singh hosted by Leah Harris

ViewPoints with Ajamou Butler hosted by Leah Harris

ViewPoints with F. Marvin Hannah, Don Edward Pannell hosted by Sheri Williams Pannell

Resources for Further Engagement

Talkbacks hosted by Sheri Williams Pannel (Live!)

Thursday, September 3rd at 7pm

Tuesday, September 8th at 7pm

*Appearing through an agreement between Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and Actors' Equity Association.

2020 FESTIVAL CURATORS

B-Free, Catina Cole, DiMonte Henning, D Luna, Tarik Moody, Sheri Williams Pannell, Kwasi Stampley, Malkia Stampley, Braylen Stevens, La Toya Sykes, Barbara Wanzo

2020 FESTIVAL LEADERSHIP

DiMonte Henning, Sheri Williams Pannell, Malkia Stampley

How Does Festival Access Work?

  • Festival "Passes" are delivered via email either the day before your week begins or once you have been granted access to the Festival during a current Festival week.

  • Festival access will be granted to the account that purchases the pass unless another guest is indicated at time of order. Indicate another recipient as your "Shipping Address" at purchase.

  • You will access the Festival via direct link provided in the email from tickets@milwaukeechambertheatre.com or by visiting the Milwaukee Black Theater Festival page and selecting "Enter Here".

  • An MCT login is required for Festival Access.

THE FESTIVAL:

IN THE COMMUNITY

We are thrilled that our fellow Milwaukeeans are joining the Festival in their own ways by elevating Black experiences and Black artists.

This content below will live outside of our MCT Festival pages, but complements our Festival initiative.

"From Skylight with Love: A Concert for Unity"

Presented by Skylight Music Theatre

Learn More or REGISTER

#BlacknificentArtCreatesLife!

Presented by Black Arts MKE

Collaboratively written by the cast of the Black Arts MKE 2020 Arts Camp Program

Black Arts MKE's Second Annual Performing Arts Camp offers middle and high school youth in the community the opportunity to experience all aspects of musical theater.  

Learn More About Black Arts MKE

WATCH #BlacknificentArtCreates Life HERE

Family Story Time 

Presented by Alice's Garden

September 3 & 10 at 5:30pm

Alice's Garden Urban Farm is pleased to announce the addition of Malkia Stampley and Chíke Johnson to our Alice's Garden Farmers Market line-up. Families will be given books to read together in small groups and then there will be a large group discussion about the selected story along with songs and activities. Suitable for children ages 3-8 but the entire family is welcome! Space will be limited and please bring blankets or chairs. Free.
#alicesgarden

Learn More About Alice's Garden

First Stage Young Performer Virtual Showcase

Presented by First Stage

Streaming September 6 - 13

First Stage proudly offers the stage to our BIPOC Young Company and Theater Academy’s Advanced Acting students to share their voices through monologues, songs and poetry in a virtual showcase directed by N'Jameh Camara and Ann Joseph Douglas. In addition, the showcase will feature a virtual production of Idris Goodwin’s short play ACT FREE, presented through Free Play: Open Source Scripts Toward an Antiracist Tomorrow – a collaboration between Idris Goodwin and TYA/USA. Join us as our young people speak from their hearts through their art.

Learn More

 

FULL-LENGTH READINGS

 

KILL MOVE PARADISE

by James Ijames

Directed by Mikael Burke

Inspired by the ever-growing list of slain Black men and women, KILL MOVE PARADISE follows Isa, Daz, Grif, and Tiny as they enter the afterlife and attempt to make sense of their fates and the path ahead.  This deeply moving and urgently topical play reminds us that behind every statistic is a name and that every name represents a full life stopped short.

STEW

by Zora Howard

Directed by Malkia Stampley

STEW focuses on three generations of Tucker women as they gather to prepare an important meal--but as the layers of the familiar domesticity of Mama’s kitchen boil away, small tragedies, everyday traumas, and years of hard-won living rise to the surface in this celebration of Black women’s perseverance and connection.  Zora Howard is a Harlem-bred multidisciplinary creator and performer. Her work with filmmaker Lisa Russell to turn her original poem “Biracial Hair” into a short film won an Emmy for Outstanding Advanced Media Interactivity in 2009. Since then, her work, both as a performer and writer, has been showcased on HBO, TV One, PBS, and NBC. Her first feature film “Premature”, which she co-wrote with filmmaker Rashaad Ernesto Green and starred in, was an official selection for the 2019 Sundance NEXT competition. “Stew” made its debut in February of 2020.

HOME

by Samm-Art Williams

Directed by Sheri Williams Pannell

A powerful, revered classic of Black theater anchored in the Second Great Migration, Samm-Art Williams’ HOME begins on the small farm in North Carolina that Cephus Miles has inherited from his family. Young and strong, he is content to work the land—until his childhood sweetheart rejects him and goes off to college. Not believing in the Vietnam War, Cephus is imprisoned as a draft evader for refusing to serve. By the time he is released, Cephus has lost his land to the tax collector, so he heads north to build a new life. With a good job and a slinky new girlfriend, he finds the big city exciting and rewarding. But the dream soon fades—Cephus loses his job and becomes involved in drugs and prostitution. Impoverished and addicted, he returns to North  Carolina, where he finds his farm and his love waiting for him after so many years.  As much an epic search for acceptance of the self as it is a place to call one’s own, HOME received a Tony Nomination for Best Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama Desk Award nomination, the NAACP Image Award, and the North Carolina Governor’s Award. 

Take home the 2020 Festival design at our online MBTF Swag Shop!

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Milwaukee Black Theater Festival logo designed by local Milwaukee graphic designer, Marquayla Ellison, owner and creative force behind Ellastic Designs.

The Milwaukee Black Theater Festival is a collaborative effort between Milwaukee Chamber Theatre and the following organizations:

Many thanks to our generous Festival sponsors

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
PRODUCERS
Julia & Patrick
Fennelly
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Emily & Leopold
Shircel
ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS
BUSINESS SPONSORS
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Milwaukee Chamber Theatre is a proud member group of the United Performing Arts Fund.

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©2020 Milwaukee Chamber Theatre