30 Years of Renaissance Theaterworks

Leaders at the women-run theater company reflect on three decades of putting on shows.


THIS STORY IS PART OF MILWAUKEE MAGAZINE‘S FALL ARTS GUIDE. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE, OR FIND THE FULL PACKAGE IN THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE.


It’s a banner year for Renaissance Theaterworks, Milwaukee’s only women-founded, women-run theater company. Thirty years ago, Renaissance mounted its very first production, a time co-founder and artistic director Suzan Fete recalls as “wild. We were very do-it-yourself.”  

Fete, who was pregnant at the time, was directing, and another founder filled in as stage manager. Things did not go as planned – the costumer showed up late, and some stage cues got mixed up with a Skylight Music Theatre production in the same building. But Fete took it in stride. “I don’t think there’s a lot of industries where you start over every year. We [began] to get used to believing that, ‘Alright, it’s going to work out,’” she says.  


 

END THE YEAR OFF RIGHT WITH EXPERT FINANCIAL TIPS

Join us for a free webinar on Dec. 7 about year-end financial planning including: account management, credit needs and taxes. Register for expert tips today


Celebrating 30 candles in their new, much larger, but still intimate, Walker’s Point location (255 S. Water St., shared with Next Act Theatre), Renaissance kicks off the season with The How and the Why (Oct. 21-Nov. 13), penned by former “House of Cards” writer Sarah Treem. The piece explores generational divides, science and destiny. That’s followed in January by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Cost of Living, which picks apart the stereotypes of living with disabilities. The company is also devising ways to “invite the community to reflect on what Renaissance means to them,” says managing director Lisa Rasmussen. Those still-evolving opportunities will be on social media, on the company’s website (r-t-w.com) and in the theater lobby. 

Fete herself thinks a lot about meaning: “[Local actress] Elyse Edelman told me her mom took her to Renaissance shows when she was little, and how important it was for her to see people doing what she wanted to do. It influences culture to see your stories. Representation is so important.” 


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s September issue.

Find it on newsstands or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.

Comments

comments

Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.