Milwaukee’s Black Theater Festival Will Be Even Bigger This Year

The annual festival is back with exciting events on the docket.

The Milwaukee Black Theater Festival is returning and will be expanded to multiple venues across the city. 

Black Arts MKE will present the third annual festival Aug. 10-14. The celebration of Black arts and culture features free and ticketed events each day, including full-production and staged reading plays, an R&B and Gospel fundraiser concert, spoken word and dance performances and talk-back and panel discussions.  

This year’s theme is ”The Black Family: Generations Speak!,” presented by generations of Black artists. It includes events for the entire family, acknowledges community challenges and encourages everyone to come together to celebrate Black theater, healing and unity. 

“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,” Blacks Arts MKE Chairman Cory Nettles said in a news release. “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 festival venues include Marcus Performing Arts Center, St. Ann Center Indaba Community Band Shell, Milwaukee Youth Arts Center and The Table Vocational Center. 

Milwaukee Black Theater Festival events include: 

  • Two theatrical world premieres produced by Bronzeville Arts Ensemble:  Milwaukee Voices of Gun Violence by Sheri Williams Pannell and Khloe’s Beautiful Blues staged reading by La’Ketta Caldwell 
  • Theatrical production of Hidden Heroes by Shà Cage – The Black Women of NASA produced by First Stage and directed by Samantha Montgomery 
  • Youth & 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 
  • This Just In staged reading by Malaina Moore, an emerging young Milwaukee-based Black playwright 
  • 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, moderated panel discussion, and an Adolphus Ward Scholarship presentation produced by Lights! Camera! Soul!’s Dimonte Henning 
  • Healing Through the Arts Showcase performances 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 that entertain us while sharing our history, exploring our challenges, uniting our generations, and celebrating our beauty,” Milwaukee Black Theatre Festival co-founder and Bronzeville Arts Ensemble producing artistic director Williams Pannell said. 

Check out the festival digital program here or visit




Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.