Introducing The Milwaukee Black Theater Festival
A New Virtual Festival, Hosted By Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Celebrating Black Artists In Our Community
Photo Credit: MCT. (Festival Curation Committee from L to R: Malkia Stampley, Sheri William Pannell, and DiMonte Henning.)
2020. One of the hardest years to create and produce theatre... and also one of the years our minds, hearts, and souls need it the most.
Theatres and performing arts venues have been closed across the nation (and most of the world) since March. Artists are struggling financially and spiritually. Theatergoers are left with no source of entertainment. 2020 has also been an important year in the fight for civil justice. Beginning with the murder of George Floyd in May, we look now more than ever at discrimination, injustice, and exclusion faced by the BIPOC members of our communities.
So what can we do about it? For starters, we can support, enjoy, and learn from the first-ever Milwaukee Black Theater Festival, a virtual event hosted by Milwaukee Chamber Theatre.
“There is no better time than now to amplify and celebrate Black voices in theater,” said Malkia Stampley, one of the members of the Festival Curation Committee. “Milwaukee has a wonderful pool of Black artists, arts leaders, and arts advocates who can use theater to connect on socially relevant themes crossing multiple art genres. The Festival can serve as an incubator for these fresh ideas through new works and collaborative efforts.”
The Milwaukee Black Theater Festival will be hosted on www.milwaukeechambertheatre.org . Festival passes are valid for 1 week of website access; August 23 - 29, August 30 - Sept 5, or Sept 6 - 12. The online website access includes 3 primary, filmed play readings; HOME, STEW, and KILL MOVE PARADISE, presented alongside thematically related original content from local creators including music, spoken word poetry, short plays, curated playlists, and interviews with artists and arts and community leaders.
“The Festival will reflect the spirit of those illuminous Black thespians during the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement who used plays and musicals to record history and speak their truth through creative expressions that uplift and inspire positive change,” said Sheri Williams Pannell, another member of the Festival Curation Committee.
In addition to the virtual Festival, MBTF has partnered with a variety of Milwaukee organizations who are presenting their own performances and creations during this time frame. Information about those projects will be available on the main Festival landing page at www.milwaukeechambertheatre.org/milwaukee-black-theater-festival.
“This celebration of Black stories is an accomplishment for the city, and will leave lasting cultural, educational, and artistic contributions that make a better Milwaukee,” said Festival Curation Committee member DiMonte Henning.
Check out the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre website for a full listing of events and performances, and other ways to get involved or support their work. It’s inspiring to see what they’ve been able to put together from the ashes of a rough year, which will hopefully lead the way for the return of performing arts and the fight for racial equality in our community.