Milwaukee’s Black Theater Festival returning for third year

The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

Black Arts MKE will host the third annual Milwaukee Black Theater Festival in venues across Milwaukee from Aug. 10-14. The event will celebrate Black arts and culture. Each day, there will be free, ticketed events. The theme of this year’s festival is “The Black Family: Generations Speak!”

“For the first time, the festival will be held across multiple venues, in an effort to expose more of the city to rich cross-disciplinary artistic and cultural activity produced by Milwaukee-based Black artists,” said Cory Nettles, Black Arts MKE Board chair. “We’re proud to produce Milwaukee Black Theater Festival to share more of our stories and put a spotlight on emerging young Black playwrights and professional theater organizations, including Bronzeville Arts Ensemble and Lights! Camera! Soul!”

Expanded venues include Marcus Performing Arts Center, St. Ann Center Indaba Community Band Shell, Milwaukee Youth Arts Center and The Table Vocational Center.

This year’s planned events include:

  • Two theatrical world premieres produced by Bronzeville Arts Ensemble: Milwaukee Voices of Gun Violence by Sheri Williams Pannell and Khloe’s Beautiful Blue, a staged reading by La’Ketta Caldwell.
  • A theatrical production of Hidden Heroes by Shà Cage – The Black Women of NASA produced by First Stage and directed by Samantha Montgomery.
  • A youth and family night kicks off the festival with preview performances from several collaborating BIPOC youth theater and dance organizations including First Stage, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Next Act Theatre, and Signature Dance Company.
  • A This Just In staged reading by Malaina Moore, an emerging young Milwaukee-based Black playwright.
  • A family reunion concert fundraiser produced by Antoine Reynolds and featuring Milwaukee R&B and gospel artists and musicians.
  • Milwaukee Black Theater Community, Let’s Talk! including a history of Milwaukee Black Theater, a moderated panel discussion, and an Adolphus Ward Scholarship presentation produced by Dimonte Henning of Lights! Camera! Soul!
  • A Healing Through the Arts showcase performance presented by several artists and survivors as portrayed in Milwaukee Voices of Gun Violence.

“We’re honoring the Black family during the third year of the Milwaukee Black Theater Festival which provides an opportunity to tell stories which entertain us while sharing our history, exploring our challenges, uniting our generations, and celebrating our beauty,” said Sheri Williams Pannell, co-founder of the Milwaukee Black Theatre Festival and Bronzeville Arts Ensemble producing artistic director.

The entire festival program can be found online.

Ashley covers startups, technology and manufacturing for BizTimes. She was previously the managing editor of the News Graphic and Washington County Daily News. In past reporting roles, covering education at The Waukesha Freeman, she received several WNA awards. She is a UWM graduate. In her free time, Ashley enjoys watching independent films, tackling a new recipe in the kitchen and reading a good book.

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