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Celebrating Black Culture: MKE Black Theatre Festival’s Three-Week Extravaganza Begins Today

todayAugust 9, 2023

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The curtain rises on a grand celebration of Black art and creativity as the largest-ever MKE Black Theatre Festival commences today. This year’s festival, produced by Black Arts MKE, is set to be a thrilling three-week extravaganza, and it all starts with a free Youth & Family Night at the Indaba Community Band Shell.

Opening Night: MUD ROW at Marquette’s Helfaer Theatre

The festival continues tomorrow with the opening night of the featured play, MUD ROW, at Marquette’s Helfaer Theatre. With the expansion of the festival to three weeks, attendees can expect an even greater array of events, all carefully curated for Black creatives and theatre lovers.

Free and Ticketed Events: Plays, Workshops, Discussions, and More

Throughout the remainder of August, the festival will be bustling with activity. Attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy:

  • Two full-production plays: Experience the talent and creativity of the local theatre community.
  • Audition and play development workshops: Hone your skills or discover new ones with the help of industry professionals.
  • Black theatre history discussion: Explore the rich heritage and contributions of Black theatre to the arts.
  • Youth and family night: A fun and engaging event designed for the whole family.
  • Auditions for Black Nativity: Take part in a timeless theatrical tradition.
  • A poetry set: Immerse yourself in the moving and powerful world of spoken word.

Venues Across Milwaukee

The festival’s events will unfold at various renowned venues throughout Milwaukee, including:

  • Marquette University
  • The Table at Alice’s Garden
  • Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum
  • Studio 4A at Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

These venues will provide the perfect backdrop for the rich array of events that reflect the diversity and vibrancy of Black creativity.

Full Schedule

  • August 9; 6:30 p.m. at Indaba Community Band Shell: Youth & Family Night directed by Ashley S. Jordan. An evening of local youth arts organizations and youth individuals will perform various talents with local vendors food, henna artists, a sensory-friendly tent and more. FREE.
  • August 10; 2-5 p.m. at Studio 4a Marcus Center: AIR QUOTE MIKE, A play development workshop with Marti Gobel. FREE.
  • August 10-27; various times at Marquette University Helfaer Theatre: MUD ROW  by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Marti Gobel. TICKETED.
  • August 12; 5 p.m. at Wisconsin Black Historical Society & Museum: A History of Black Theatre with Everett Marshburn, facilitated by Sheri Williams Pannell and Clayborn Benson III. FREE.
  • August 14; 6:30 p.m. at Insomniac Studios: Audition Workshops, I AM MasterClass with Marti Gobel – Headshots for Emerging & Professional Actors and Audition 101
  • August 15; 6 p.m. at Studio 4a Marcus Center: Auditions for Black Nativity by Langston Hughes (Sign up here). FREE.
  • August 17-19; 7:30 p.m. at The Table at Alice’s Garden: THE MEETING by Jeff Stetson, directed by Denzel Taylor in collaboration with Bronzeville Arts Ensemble. TICKETED.
  • August 26; 6 p.m. at North Avenue Market: Poetry Set with Cedric Dale Hoard & Jasmine Sims. FREE.

MUD ROW follows two generations of sisters in an area in the East End of West Chester, Pennsylvania called “Mud Row” while attempting to work through themes of race, class, love, loss and family, in order to break and bend generational patterns set before them.The production is a new collaboration with Marquette University’s VIP Theatre Program.

Tickets to MUD ROW:

THE MEETING is a fascinating one-act play that depicts the supposed meeting of two of the most important men of modern times: Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tickets to THE MEETING: 

The festival is produced by Black Arts MKE, a Black-led performing arts organization that serves predominantly Black communities. Black Arts MKE is committed to increasing the availability and quality of African American arts and culture.


Written by: Tarik Moody

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Get your tickets now for just $10 in advance or $15 at the door and join us at 220 East Pittsburgh on May 10th.