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Volume 1, Number 2

By Mike Fischer


MILWAUKEE | We Rise: MKE’s Celebration of Black History Month


MILWAUKEE | What it Means to be a Black Artist in Milwaukee


MADISON | Anwar Floyd-Pruitt: Using art to bridge generations


NATIONAL | Don’t Cling to the Old Ways, Embrace the Change: An Interview with André De Shields


ART SUBMISSIONS | Yes, Wisconsin African American Artists Do Get Media Coverage Outside of Wisconsin

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By Kevin James Sievert

By Amanda Finn

By Della Wells


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From The Publisher

Greetings fellow arts patrons, Thanks for opening the February issue of ArtsScene...our second! If you haven’t noticed yet, we have an editorial theme for each monthly issue of ArtsScene. This gives focus and feature to topics that are relevant in our culture that have a relationship to the stage and canvas. In this issue, we explore Black History Month and delve into African American arts and artists in our country and local community. Our writers have done an incredible job of sharing history, faces, and current happenings backstage during the pandemic while many venues remain dark. The topics of equity, diversity, and inclusion have been heating up off stage across our country over the past year. However, this time of reflection and intermission for the arts can bring positive outcomes. As Mike Fischer explores the idea of “who gets to tell the story,” we offer a variety of voices this month from various perspectives to feed your appetite. I suspect the arts will be refreshed and reborn when the stage lights come on again and you will see and hear more colorful voices represented in the future. While you read, please click on the ads and explore what our friends have to offer. These businesses believe in ArtsScene enough to invest their marketing dollars to speak to you. Please visit their sites and see what they have to offer. Also, check out our sponsor, UW Credit Union. They are true champions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Take a look at their model and mission… CLICK HERE TO TAKE A LOOK Next month’s theme is “She Made This.” Women are redefining arts in Wisconsin and changing the face of local theatre forever. Subscribe today and see how! Critics Welcome! Tell us what you’d like to read about in future issues of ArtsScene. (CLICK HERE) From heavier topics to soft and fun news, we want to share with you the best arts news and entertainment Southern Wisconsin has to offer. Your feed-back and suggestions are greatly appreciated in shaping our format. Please help us build up this publication as we build back our wonderful and deeply missed arts community.

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Who Gets to Tell the Story? By Mike Fischer

On page, canvas, or stage, should white artists be telling BIPOC stories? When does radical sympathy and imaginative identification become cultural appropriation? If we can’t tell stories extending beyond our own experience, what role does the imagination even play?

“The subject matter is not Schutz’s,” Black’s letter insisted. “White free speech and white creative freedom have been founded on the constraint of others, and are not natural rights,” the letter continued. “The painting must go.”

Others weren’t so sure. Indian-born British writer Kenan Malik contended that Here’s a recent example – illustrative but hardly exhaustive – making clear that these when it comes to culture, “what is called appropriation is not theft but messy aren’t abstract questions. interaction. Writers and artists necessarily engage with the experience of After Emmett Till’s body came home to others. Nobody owns a culture.” Chicago from 1955 Mississippi, his mother Black writer Zadie Smith was insisted on an open-casket funeral so that equally troubled about Black’s letter. the world could see how her child had Acknowledging the appeal of “absolute been brutally beaten and lynched. clarity: personal, genetic, political,” she nevertheless suggested it was a “fantasy” to When white artist Dana Schutz’s painting imagine Americans can divide themselves of Till was included in the 2017 Whitney into “us” and “them,” with allegations Biennial, Black performance artist Hannah Black circulated an open letter – signed by of “appropriation” reduced to “racial 47 Black figures from the art world – asking essentialism.” the Whitney curators to remove Schutz’s Two years later, in her October 2019 essay painting. Fascinated to Presume: In Defense of Fiction, Smith went further. “What insults my soul,” Smith wrote, “is the idea . . . that we can and should write only about people who are fundamentally ‘like’ us: racially, sexually, genetically, nationally, politically, personally. That only an intimate authorial autobiographical connection with a character can be the rightful basis of a fiction. I do not believe that. I could not have written a single one of my books if I did.” Dana Schutz’s “Open Casket”

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Two months later, Black British writer Bernardine Evaristo – who’d just won the 2019 Booker Prize for her brilliant novel Girl, Woman, Other – echoed Smith. “This whole idea of cultural appropriation is ridiculous,” Evaristo said. “Because that

would mean that I could never write white characters or white writers can never write Black characters.” “There is this idea that when it comes to fiction that you are supposed to stay in your lane,” Evaristo continued. “It is a total nonsense.”

Marginalized Voices Among the reasons debates involving cultural appropriation have recently grown so passionate? The longstanding dominance of white artists (and white voices) in every artistic field. Even as he defended the Whitney curators’ decision to include Schutz’s painting, Malik acknowledged that “cultural engagement does not take place on a level playing field. Racism and inequality shape the ways in which people imagine others.” Bottom line: When white artists are already telling most of the stories the world hears and heeds – even when those stories are about people who aren’t white – it’s hard to separate their art, however good or well intentioned, from concerns that too much is missing from the big picture. “Those who are unlike us have a long and dismal history of trying to contain us in false images,” Smith writes in her 2019 essay. “And so – the argument runs – if we are to be contained by language, let that language at least be our own.” It’s in this historical context – involving repeated underrepresentation and misrepresentation – that one can most fully understand this past summer’s landmark, 29-page manifesto from BIPOC theater artists: We See You, White American Theater. It’s an open letter to the American theater establishment, outlining demands regarding what must change, postpandemic.

Signed by more than 100,000 artists, this manifesto’s wide-ranging demands – which include specific goals involving the percentage of BIPOC plays being staged and BIPOC creatives involved in making them – directly address the question of cultural appropriation. “Understand that you cannot tell stories about us without us,” the manifesto states. “We must be involved in the telling of our own stories. Get out of the way so we can thrive . . . You will never understand our stories better than we do. Decenter yourself.” Even a cursory review of whose stories are being told on Milwaukee’s main stages makes clear that such de-centering is needed and overdue. Between 2000 and 2020, 90% of the plays staged by Milwaukee’s six Equity theater companies were by white playwrights (73% of those plays were by white male playwrights; I’ll have more to say about dramatic gender disparities in next month’s column). It gets worse: Nearly half of the infinitesimally small number of BIPOC plays being produced by Milwaukee’s Equity theaters during the past two decades were written by just ten playwrights – suggesting that these theaters aren’t doing nearly enough to expand their range of reference and showcase relatively unknown BIPOC voices.

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The numbers from America’s theater capital are equally grim. Last October, New York’s Asian American Performers Action Coalition issued its latest demographic study – in a series dating from 2011 – examining employment statistics by race of actors, writers, composers, directors, and artistic staff for both Broadway and New York City’s 18 largest nonprofit theater companies. In the 2017-18 theater season covered by the report, 80 percent of writers and more than 85 percent of directors (including the directors of every Broadway musical) were white. Every Broadway show by a BIPOC artist or about BIPOC experiences had a white director; there were no Latinx, Asian American, or Indigenous directors. The artistic directors of all 18 nonprofit theaters were white; as New York magazine critic Helen Shaw archly noted, when “you get above a $5 million budget in New York . . . the artistic-directorship diversity number plummets to zero.”

Meanwhile, white actors continue to be the only race that’s overrepresented in relation to its percentage of New York’s population. While more than two-thirds of New York is BIPOC, just over one third of roles on New York’s most prestigious stages were filled by BIPOC actors. And these numbers actually constitute a significant improvement over the prior season. BIPOC actors also tend to appear on smaller stages; under Equity rules, they’re consequently paid less: $1 for every $1.70 made by white actors. AAPAC refers to this process of putting BIPOC stories on smaller stages as “redlining.” In New York as in Milwaukee and nearly everywhere else, the critics writing stories about these stories are overwhelmingly white; it’s no accident that BIPOC artists’ demands in their summer 2020 manifesto included an insistence that theater institutions and commercial producers make substantial investments in critical training programs and fellowships for potential BIPOC critics.

Logo from the 2020 manifesto, “We See You, White American Theater.”

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Expanding the Canon Regardless of where one comes down on questions involving who gets to tell which stories, numbers like these make clear that we need far more stories, told by a much wider range of people. Part of this expansion can and should involve radically new interpretations, with color conscious casting, of classic plays by established white writers. 2013 productions of Molière’s Tartuffe and The Misanthrope at Chicago’s Court Theatre, the Stratford Festival’s 2016 production of Miller’s All My Sons, the Public Theater’s 2019 production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and the National Theatre’s 2019 production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters (adapted by Inua Ellams and set during Nigeria’s civil war), are just a few of the majority (and in some cases exclusively) Black-embodied productions that have forever changed my understanding of these canonical texts by white playwrights. These productions offered new, illuminating perspectives on cultural moments ranging from the rise of Stacey Abrams to the fall of Biafra, and from the world of an established and powerful Black bourgeoisie on Chicago’s South Side to the tensions afflicting a mixed-race neighborhood in post-World War II Ohio. But expanding the canon can’t just involve new ways of seeing old stories, for two reasons.

First, as August Wilson noted in The Ground on Which I Stand – his seminal keynote address at the Theatre Communications Group’s 1996 national conference – BIPOC artists often pay a psychic toll when their bodies are confined within white plays. As Black actor Cassia Thompson noted in a moving talkback following a recent American Players Theatre production, all too often Black actors appearing in “white” plays must leave their skin at the door. Second, and also noted by Wilson: there are simply too many good plays by nonwhite playwrights that aren’t getting done; the Milwaukee and New York numbers I cited speak for themselves. “It was so exciting to see myself in Tennessee Williams, in Beckett and Caryl Churchill,” said Black playwright Jeremy O. Harris in a recent interview. “But there came a point when I was like, ‘Wait, have Black people never done anything like this?’ And when I discovered that not only had they, but so many had done it to wild acclaim, and yet no one I talked to remembered the acclaim or knew those people, I knew that something had to be done about this cultural amnesia.” I stand by what I’ve said many times, in podcasts and in print: many of the most exciting new plays being written right now are by BIPOC playwrights. Why aren’t we seeing them in Wisconsin? And until we do, how can we ever change the terms of the debate regarding cultural appropriation? When BIPOC artists aren’t being heard or recognized, every white attempt to tell a BIPOC story is going to look like a theft. How can it not?

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A More Inclusive Future In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing We See You, White American Theater manifesto, many white American theaters have promised they’ll build back better, becoming more inclusive in how they’re organized and what they stage after the pandemic. The proof, as the old adage goes, will be in the pudding. “I haven’t seen any theaters fulfilling the actual goals they put out there yet” involving “seasons written, directed, and cast with people of color,” noted Black playwright Ike Holter in a recent interview. “I do think that’s a start, for people to fulfill the promises they made during the pandemic, and to never forget that.” Meanwhile, newly formed organizations like the Black Theatre Coalition, the Broadway Advocacy Coalition and Black Theatre United are moving forward with plans to commission BIPOC playwrights, create paid internships, and advocate for more inclusive decisions involving programming and hiring. Harris alone has funded two $50,000 commissions for Black female playwrights, donated collections of Black-authored plays to schools in every state, and funded a series of micro-grants from his royalties with the goal of expanding who and what is seen on American stages. I’d like to think that in art as in politics, if we dramatically expand who sits at the table and participates in the conversation, mutuality will become more common. We’ll begin to share; perhaps we’ll even learn to trust.

“We are not separatists,” Wilson insisted in his 1996 address. “We are Americans trying to fulfill our talents,” so that all artists and Americans might come together, sharing “the ground on which we all stand.” In such a world, Smith suggests, terms like “cultural appropriation” might morph into “interpersonal voyeurism,” “profoundother-fascination,” or even “cross-epidermal reanimation.” My preferred term would be dialogic conversation, featuring a give-and-take characterized by an ecstasy of influence involving cultural exchange among genuine equals. Hopelessly utopian? Maybe. But really, what’s the alternative? Wilson is right: we stand on the same ground. For more than 500 years, our individual stories have been tangling even as they unspooled, creating an interwoven tapestry of blood, violence, and hate but also of hope and dreams and love. Sure, we can try to separate the strands and unravel what we’ve created. Or we can make a conscious choice to follow the skein of every story. Identify where those stories intersect. Trace the common threads. And learn to see and appreciate the big picture, still being woven one unique stitch and story at a time. Even as I write. Even as you read. A Milwaukee-based writer and dramaturg, Mike Fischer is a member of the Advisory Company of Artists for Forward Theater Company in Madison. On behalf of Forward, he co-hosts a bimonthly podcast and writes a weekly visual arts guide. You can reach him directly at mjfischer1985@gmail.com.

A Milwaukee-based writer and dramaturg, Mike Fischer is a member of the Advisory Company of Artists for Forward Theater Company in Madison. On behalf of Forward, he co-hosts a bimonthly podcast and writes a weekly visual arts guide.

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MKE's Celebration of Black History Month On June 9th, 2020, Milwaukee Repertory Theater released a statement in response to the murder of George Floyd. “Milwaukee Rep believes that BLACK LIVES MATTER. We say it as an organization that speaks to our shared humanity and believe those words are in alignment with our mission to ignite positive change in our community. Making the statement at this time is vital, but even more important are the meaningful actions that will flow from it.” Since then, the theater has released monthly statements to show transparency and progress of their ED&I (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) efforts. In their first update, sent out in July of 2020, they listed the following as immediate steps they would take: • Create meaningful opportunities to listen and engage BIPOC stakeholders • Strengthen and create new authentic partnerships with Milwaukee’s diverse communities • Continue to diversify our staff, leadership team and board of trustees • Hire more BIPOC practitioners for our artistic teams • Provide ED&I and anti-racist training for staff, trustees and volunteers In line with these steps, the Rep recently hired Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj as Associate Artistic Producer. “This year we saw the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the second great civil rights movement in our country,” said Maharaj. “We are excited to present four nights of free virtual events, because even with our stages empty due to COVID-19, it is important to honor the past, present and the future of our dynamic theater and the tremendous contributions African Americans have made to Milwaukee Rep and the city at large.” 14 | artsscene

Video Interview with Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj By Ryan Albrechtson

One of Majharaj’s first initiatives as Artistic Associate Producer is WE RISE: MKE’s Celebration of Black History Month. Describing the project as a “Valentine to Milwaukee’s Black community” the series features four different free virtual events throughout February. The celebration will honor the tremendous contributions that African American artists, administrators, and audiences have made to Milwaukee Rep and the City of Milwaukee. We sat down with Maharaj to talk about his move to Milwaukee and his work on this project and Milwaukee Rep’s ED&I strategies. Check out segments from our video interview here!

Milwaukee Rep’s We Rise virtual performances span across the month of February.

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Upcoming Events To Be Young, Gifted and Black: A Celebration of Lorraine Hansberry Monday, February 1, 7pm CT Facebook Live The night will feature interviews with icon in African American film, television and theater Phyllis Yvonne Stickney and Tony and Grammy Nominee Valisia LaKae who played Lorraine Hansberry in the Off-Broadway production of Sweet Lorraine; and a reunion of the artists from Milwaukee Rep’s 2012/13 Season production of A Raisin in the Sun including Mildred Marie Langford, Greta Oglesby and Director Ron OJ Parson. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize Monday, February 8, 7pm CT Facebook Live Hear from African American artists, past and present at Milwaukee Rep who are onstage and behind-the-scenes showcasing the many roles that create art in Milwaukee. The evening features Costume Designer Kara Harmon (Eclipsed and our upcoming production of Toni Stone), Stage Manager Tara Kelly (West Side Story), actor and hair/wig designer Nikiya Mathis (The Mountaintop) and Milwaukee Rep staff members including Chief Diversity Officer Tammy Belton-Davis, Associate Director of Engagement N’Jameh Camara, Associate Artistic Producer, Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj and Educator Hope Parow. This event will be emceed by 88Nine’s Tarik Moody.

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It Takes a Village Monday, February 15, 7pm CT Facebook Live Join us for a town hall with members of the Milwaukee Black Theater Community to showcase their work and discuss the plethora of contributions African American artists and administrators have made over the years in Milwaukee. Featuring La’Ketta Caldwell from LUMIN Schools; DiMonte Henning founder of Lights! Camera! Soul! and Milwaukee Rep EPR alum; Chiké Johnson actor and founder of Cheeks Films; Dr. Donte McFadden of Milwaukee Film Fest Black Lens; and Malkia Stampley actor, director and co-founder of Milwaukee Black Theater Festival. The Ground on Which I Stand Monday, February 22, 7pm CT Facebook Live The evening honors the prolific life and legacy of August Wilson in the American Theater. Keynote speaker Ebony JoAnn will kick things off detailing her personal and professional relationship in collaboration with Mr. Wilson over her 40+ year career in the entertainment industry. Presentations from past and current August Wilson Monologue Competition participants will then take center stage followed by a discussion on the Women of August Wilson and the power of his characters with panelists including actors Sadé Ayodele, Ebony Jo-Ann, Greta Oglesby and Malkia Stampley.




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What it Means to be a Black Artist in Milwaukee By Kevin James Sievert Hello ArtsScene readers! My name is Kevin James Sievert, a Milwaukee based actor, singer, and musician. When I was asked to reflect on “Black Arts Matter”, one would expect it to be an easy topic for someone like me to reflect on. I am, of course, Black. I am an artist in many different ways. And I matter (as do you, dear reader!). My journey as a fully aware, fully honest and fully unapologetically Black actor didn’t begin until I started doing theatre here in Milwaukee. Coming from Manitowoc, WI, my identity never had a part in roles I played but never allowed me to fully express myself as myself either. The joy I’ve felt as an actor here in Milwaukee is “green”, but has allowed me to become a more aware actor and person. As an industry, no matter where you are, there is room to grow in these ideals. How can we become more aware of ourselves? How can we feel that joy? How can we usher in these ideas for future generations? I look no further for these answers than the women in my life, who are always trailblazing these ideals. I have had the pleasure of working with three brilliant, energetic, and strong black women theatrical artists who have helped skim the surfaces of what these answers can be. Raven Dockery, Sheri Williams Pannell, and Christie Chiles Twillie met up with me to discuss these thoughts and reflect on the resilience of Black Arts in Milwaukee and all over the world.

Video Interview with Kevin Sievert, Raven Dockery, Christie Chiles Twillie, and Sheri Pannell

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Kevin James Sievert is an actor, singer and musician based in Wisconsin. Kevin attended Holy Family College (Formerly Silver Lake College of the Holy Family) in Manitowoc, WI studying Vocal Performance and Pedagogy. In addition to that, Kevin has studied and performed as a pianist and accompanist in the Wisconsin area. A classically trained tenor, Kevin’s musical and vocal performance experience has spanned from pop/rock music, opera and musical theatre. In 2015, Kevin received a Region 3 KCACTF Irene Ryan nomination for his role as Beethoven in Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead., which allowed him to audition and accept a spot in the highly selective Open Jar Institute, a pre-Broadway college program that trains actors in the heart of the New York theatre scene. In 2016, Kevin became the $10,000 winner of the Wisconsin state-wide vocal competition Lakeshore’s Rising Stars. In 2017, Kevin made his professional debut at Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee, WI in Hot Mikado as Pish Tush, and in Urinetown as Robbie the Stockfish in the Ensemble and the production’s Dance Captain. Kevin returned to Skylight in the 2018-2019 season as Little Moe in Five Guys Named Moe, where he received a nomination and became a finalist for the Footlights People’s Choice Award for Outstanding Supporting Performer in a Musical (Professional). Other Professional Credits include Disney’s Newsies (Wiesel/ Newsie/Mayor) and The Gospel at Colonus (Balladeer) both with Skylight Music Theatre. Directorial credits include; The Addams Family: The Musical (General Director), Legally Blonde: The Musical (Co-General Direction and Choreography) and Hello Again (Direction and Choreography). Raven Monique Dockery is a Milwaukee native performing and teaching artist. She has performed with theatres such as First Stage, The Milwaukee Rep, Skylight Music Theatre and Black Arts MKE. She has also performed in the Chicago Area, Michigan and Iowa. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts for Music Theatre Performance from UW-Milwaukee and recently finished her Masters in Music Vocal Pedagogy for Music Theatre Singing from Carthage College. She is currently an Adjunct Teacher at Carthage College and is hoping to get a M.F.A. and Doctorate in the near future. Thank you to her family and friends for their never-ending love and support. Thank you to her Angel in the skies above, Brenda Dockery. Without the arts, Raven would not be who she is today.

CLICK HERE to see Raven perform!

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M I LWAUKEE Sheri Williams Pannell is a native Milwaukeean who has performed, directed or written for a number of Milwaukee’s theater and arts organizations including Bronzeville Arts Ensemble, First Stage, Florentine Opera, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Fringe Festival, Milwaukee Rep, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Arts Museum, Present Music and Skylight Music Theatre. Beyond Milwaukee, Pannell has worked at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Utah’s Old Lyric Theatre, Children’s Theater of Madison, University Opera and University Theater at UW Madison. Pannell was honored to direct a production as part of the United Nations Conference on Genocide, hosted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2017, Pannell was honored as an Artist of the Year by the City of Milwaukee. A founding member and artistic director at Bronzeville Arts Ensemble, Pannell is also a director/teaching artist at Black Arts MKE and co-director of the drama ministry at Calvary Baptist Church. Summer of 2020, Pannell served as one of the founders of the Milwaukee Black Theatre Festival. Her play, WELCOME TO BRONZEVILLE was selected by BroadwayWorld Milwaukee, as the 2020 Best Original Play of the Decade. Pannell is Area Head of the Musical Theatre Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Peck School of the Arts. A graduate of Spelman College, Pannell also holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

CLICK HERE to see Sheri perform! Christie Chiles Twillie is a Music Director, Piano Conductor, Vocal Coach, Sound Designer and Composer. She has Music Directed over 40 productions, and written original scores for several plays and films including, A Raisin in the Sun (Invictus Theatre), Yellowman (Fleetwood Jourdain) , In The Red and Brown Water (Northwestern), Homeland 24 (Music for Theatre CHICAGO) , America 2.0 (Definition Theatre), The Pandemic Trilogy and Alone. In 2019, Christie was awarded the Footlights Best Musical Direction Award for a Professional Production (Skylight Music Theatre’s Five Guys Named Moe), and a Rachel Rockwell “Fierce Women Behind The Table,” award for Music Direction by Porchlight Music Theatre. In 2018, she earned a BTAA nomination for Best Music Direction for her original score for Yellowman. In 2017, she was a Chicago Broadway World Finalist for Best Music Direction for Big Fish (Big Noise Theatre). Regional credits include Skylight Music Theatre’s “Five Guys Named Moe,” “Newsies,” and “The Gospel at Colonus” and the Chicago premier of Porchlight Music Theatre’s “Minnie’s Boys.” Her Bachelors and Masters Degree are in Piano Performance, she holds a minor in Dance and was a Young Artist Concerto Competition Winner. Her production company is Music for Theatre CHICAGO.

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CLICK HERE to see Christie perform!





February 15 - March 7, 2021 Set in a Chicago public school, this dark comedy celebrates the devotion of those who teach us. Directed by Marti Gobel.

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Anwar Floyd-Pruitt’s work is on display in galleries in Madison, Appleton and Milwaukee.

Anwar Floyd-Pruitt: Using art to bridge generations

Anwar Floyd-Pruitt is an artist in many aspects of the word. Growing up, he participated in theater, moving into stand-up comedy in his 20s. During college and after graduating from Harvard University, he worked in advertising and marketing, focusing on words and promotions. On weekends, he entertained himself making comedic rap videos, sharing his sense of humor while learning how to create videos. Floyd-Pruitt’s foray into visual art began through T-shirt design, bleaching the shirts and sewing on leather patches. Then he began sewing pieces of paper to each other, cutting stencils by hand and slowly amassing a collection of artistic experiments. It didn’t take long for Floyd-Pruitt to realize he was happiest while creating art, finding it both stimulating and meditative. He decided making art in his spare time wasn’t enough. 26 | artsscene

MAD I S ON “There were too many ideas and projects I wanted to work on and too many interesting tools and techniques I wanted to learn,” he said. Floyd-Pruitt returned home to Milwaukee and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. While at UW-Milwaukee, he made large-scale political objects, working with large materials and heavy subject matter. “Crumpling 50 feet of chicken wire by hand to represent Black Pain was exhausting,” he explained. “I achieved my goals but found the work physically and emotionally exhausting and too solitary.” Moving to Madison to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree at UW-Madison, he chose to move away from this type of work, opting for less stressful, collaborative projects. The look of Floyd-Pruitt’s art has changed dramatically since then. Once making human-scale sculptures in limited color palettes, usually single abstract, monolithic objects in black or white, now his work is extremely colorful. “There’s still an abstract quality, but the work is more representational,” he explained. “I use a lot of layers in my mixed media collage work, combining thousands of smaller pieces into hundreds of works of art. You have to stand back to take in the entire installation, but there are also tiny details in the work that draw you closer.” In fall 2019, Floyd-Pruitt’s work was featured in the “Multiplicity of Being” exhibit with artist Xiaoyue Pu in Overture Galleries. The exhibit explored themes of identity, society and culture through portraiture. Floyd-Pruitt enjoys collaborative work, especially with his audiences. In one show, he initiated self-portraits by encouraging others to take his photo. In another, he stood on one side of a glass wall and people on the other side used dry-erase markers to draw him on the glass.

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MAD I S ON “I want to make art without depending on specific materials or tools,” said FloydPruitt. “This allows me to keep creating, wherever I am.”

Mural Project

One of Floyd-Pruitt’s recent collaborative projects was the Downtown Street Art and Mural Project this past summer. The project formed in Madison following local protests against police brutality and the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Civil demonstration was followed by social unrest, resulting in property damage to State Street businesses. As owners shuttered their damaged storefronts with plywood on Madison’s signature pedestrian thoroughfare, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and the president of the Madison Common Council authorized Madison Arts Program Administrator, Karin Wolf, to develop a response. The project was part of an artist relief initiative to support artists who lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and prioritized artists of color affected by racial violence and injustice. “It felt like my civic duty to create murals and participate in the project. It was imperative that I lend my voice to the struggle,” explained Floyd-Pruitt, who recruited assistance from fellow classmates in his MFA program. Artists created 70 commissioned murals conveying urgent demands for change and inspiring community dialogue. Click here to virtually explore the art and murals. Floyd-Pruitt used a patriotic color palette, combining text and other visual elements that spoke to police violence. One mural included a quote by Fredrick Douglass: “The life of a nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous.” “These words were written generations ago, but they remain accurate clues of how we can be a better country,” he said. While the powerful images made an impact, the experience was not without incident. High emotions and anger lingered downtown during the mural project, yet Floyd-Pruitt, faced with racist aggressions, continued to put his positive energy into the world, following his values and experience to cultivate peace in his words, actions and art.

Kids in the Rotunda

Floyd-Pruitt has found an additional passion in puppetry, which unites his fondness for visual arts, performance and writing. He finds it an interesting and fruitful way to connect with young people and learn from their unique perspectives. Floyd-Pruitt addresses themes and concerns of the African culture by combining puppetry and hip-hop music, creating a new language for expressing ideas that may be difficult to express with words. He has taken his show on the road, presenting live performance workshops called Hip-Hop Puppet Parties. 28 | artsscene

MAD I S ON “Through puppetry, music, dancing and graffiti art, we can better express what we are thinking and feeling,” he explained. “Plus, puppetry allows us to imagine the world as a different place than it is.” Floyd-Pruitt performed family-friendly puppet singa-longs at Overture’s Kids in the Rotunda in October 2019. The show featured six three-foot large puppets in the primary and secondary colors called the “Color Wheel Crew”. “Performing on Kids in the Rotunda stage was a hoot,” he said. “The puppets were bigger than the kids! It was a great experience.”

Virtual Overture Field Trips

In mid-January, Floyd-Pruitt participated in Overture Center’s virtual field trips with 180 students, grades 3-8, from Madison’s Eagle Elementary School. The hands-on experiential workshops involved a variety of artists and focused on teaching students to use the arts to amplify their voices and stories. Floyd-Pruitt fabricated nearly 200 pocket puppet templates that were distributed to students in advance of the workshop. Then during the workshop, he explained the basic mechanics of the template and instructed students how to customize and perform the puppets, with a focus on lip synch. “My hope in these workshops is that the intuitive design of templates makes it easy for students to reproduce the puppets on their own, using materials they are likely to have at home,” he said. Floyd-Pruitt has also collaborated with The Bubbler program through the Madison Public Library, bringing his puppetry workshop to young students at the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center. “This experience taught me to simplify my process and be thoughtful about material choices to create the most dynamic and engaging 90-minute workshop possible,” he said. His goal is to make puppetry accessible to others. “Incarcerated youth need jobs and income, and I want to show them that puppetry is a means to both,” said Floyd-Pruitt. “My puppet-making technique could be a real economic generator for young people.” Floyd-Pruitt says his Hip-Hop Puppet Parties are an artistic opportunity to go back and explore what was lost from the Black American experience when enslaved Africans were banned from object performance due to its spirituality.

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Local Exhibits

The idea of going back in time is portrayed in Floyd-Pruitt’s exhibit at Chazen Museum of Art, showcasing sculptures, videos, collages and mixed media works. Floyd-Pruitt received the 2020 Russell and Paula Panczenko MFA Prize offered by the Chazen Museum of Art in collaboration with the UW-Madison Art Department. His exhibition “SUPERNOVA: Charlotte and Gene’s Radical Imagination Station,” selected by guest curator and author Glenn Adamson, is currently on display at the Chazen through March 12. “The first part of the exhibit is a multi-media sci-fi fantasy ode to the title characters, my parents,” said Floyd-Pruitt. “My siblings and I travel back to the 1950s, 60s and 70s, back to our parents’ youth.” A spring 2020 MFA graduate, Floyd-Pruitt is pursuing a full-time university teaching position. In the meantime, he’s enjoying creating and sharing his passion for art. “What I love most about being an artist is the constant experimentation,” said Floyd-Pruitt. “In art, there is hardly ever a solitary correct answer or solution. There is no single path that leads to the creation of a compelling work of art. There's a flexibility to art that I haven't experienced elsewhere. There's a constant creative growth that takes place in my art practice.” In addition to the Chazen Museum of Art exhibit, Floyd-Pruitt’s shows include “From Here On Out” at Gallery Marzen in Madison, viewable online and in-person through March 1, “Unraveled. Restructured. Revealed: Where Contemporary Art and Diverse Perspectives Intersect” from Feb. 19 to May 23 at Trout Museum of Art in Appleton, and “Color, Cuts and Contour Delineations” Feb. 5 to March 28 at 5 Points Art Gallery + Studios in Milwaukee. Floyd-Pruitt says he appreciates having Overture Center in the Madison community. “It’s an incredible place with a lot of energy going in it and coming out of it,” he said. “I look forward to when Overture can open and once again serve as the community gathering space for the arts.” Learn more about Floyd-Pruitt at anwarfloydpruitt.com.

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A NEW BEGINNING IS ON THE HORIZON Our 21/22 symphony season is scheduled to begin in September 2021 — a joyous celebration of Beethoven that will feature many of the artists and programs we had anticipated experiencing throughout this season.


We are planning to open 21/22 season renewals and new subscriptions in the Spring. We’re excited to be together with you again feeling the thrill of live music with our orchestra and John DeMain in beautiful Overture Hall.

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Don't Cling to the Old Ways, Embrace the Change: An Interview with André De Shields By Amanda Finn When theaters started shuttering last spring, no one knew how long they’d be dark. Almost a year later artists are anxious to get back to the stages they love, but the community at large will likely face a new reality for the theater. A more inclusive, equitable, and hopeful American theater. Organizations like We See You White American Theater (W.A.T.) gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures to demand white institutions stop abusing Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

André De Shields

The ghost lights may be lit, but the revolution is well underway. There should be no going back to ‘the way things were,’ at least, not if any lasting change is to be made. For veteran actor, André De Shields, returning to American theater’s ‘normal’ isn’t an option. “The old way is dead,” he said. “I don’t look over my shoulder and be nostalgic about the old norm. That is past us. There is no new norm yet, [who knows] if there ever will be. We performer-activists are the people who know how to live in the moment, who know how to make something of nothing, the [ones] who know the arts own the power of transforming individual lives, the power of the arts can alter governments. The power of the arts can make a change in the world we want to see.” De Shields said he believes the theater should represent the people in the streets, reflect the diversity of the world. But that level of inclusivity was far from reality in the American theater. The New York Times reported in October 2020 that, according to studies, the 2017-2018 Broadway and Off-Broadway seasons only featured shows created by artists of color 20% of the time. More than that, 2/3 of the roles on Broadway were filled by white actors and 92% of the directors were white. “Approximately 23 percent of roles over all at New York City theaters went to Black actors, 7 percent to Asian-American actors, 6 percent to Latino actors, 2 percent to Middle Eastern or North African actors, and fewer than 1 percent to Indigenous actors, according to the report,” Sarah Bahr wrote. “Latino actors were also more than 34 | artsscene

NAT I ONAL three times as likely to be cast in a chorus role than as a principal in a Broadway musical.” Given the racial reckoning, America has come up against in the last year in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic which has made the country’s healthcare disparities snowball, going back to the way things De Shields performing in Broadway’s Hadestown. were is simply not a viable option. The American theater will return someday soon, albeit with a much-needed evolution. The theater must go through this transformation if it is to be something of “lasting value,” De Shields said. “Right now you can think of it as the clash of the titans,” he explained. “The two are looking at each other in the eye...and we are experiencing the underbelly of the ‘greatest country in the world.’ The secrets are finally out of the closet and the dirty laundry is being aired. Just as we are not aware of the stars during the day, darkness has to be part of our experience or the contrast so that we know the correct choices to make. So now we see our shadow and we can never be rid of our shadow, it’s time to deal with it.” This year of dark stages isn’t for naught, however, it’s merely an opportunity for growth. De Shields believes every problem is actually a blessing in disguise. This is a chance for theater as a community to regroup and reprioritize itself before the lights come back up. More than that, it’s a time when people can come together for the better. A newfound reality can be found in that healing. White supremacy in America’s theaters, as well as the country at large, can’t be swept under the rug anymore. De Shields said now that it’s out in the open “it’s time to begin the healing process.” “Life is difficult, life is hard,” he said. “If we keep our nose to the grindstone, as the generation before us would’ve said, we will be rewarded for our investment of talent, energy, intuition, perseverance, tenacity, and all those virtues we lose in times of trouble. That’s how we get stronger. And certainly now, when people talk about the four years of dark ages we just experienced, but we would not be able to appreciate what we are now called to together to build anew if we didn’t have the hard times. We needed the darkness to contrast it against.” De Shields performing in Broadway’s Hadestown.



Yes, Wisconsin African

American Artists Do Get Media Coverage Outside of Wisconsin

By Della Wells Milwaukee based artist and writer Della Wells.

During the last year there have been several African American artists with Wisconsin ties that have received media attention outside of Wisconsin. These artists either were born in Wisconsin, currently live in Wisconsin, once lived in Wisconsin, worked in Wisconsin or have graduated from one of our universities or colleges. Moreover, when some think of artists that live in a particular city or state, there is a tendency to think that local artists only interact with that city’s click image to see artist’s website local art scene. This is not true. Each artist is different in how they approach their career. Let’s look at some of the African American artists with Wisconsin ties that have received media attention outside of the Milwaukee media. In 2020, award winning artist Charly Palmer’s painting “In Her Eyes” appeared on the July 6th/July 13th cover of TIME Magazine. TIME had commissioned Palmer to create artwork for their “America Must Change” cover. Palmer was born in Fayette, Alabama and was raised in Milwaukee in the 1960’s and 1970’s. During the late 1970’s and 1980’s, Charly Palmer’s “In Her Eyes” featured on the cover of TIME Magazine. he was very active in the Milwaukee’s African American art scene. In 1992, he moved to Georgia. A nationally known artist, Palmer has exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States and has done several commissions throughout his career, including 1996 and 1998 Olympic posters. Last year he also created cover art for John Legend’s “Bigger Love” album.

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click image to see artist’s website

Dominic Chambers’ artwork.

St. Louis native and 2016 Milwaukee School of Art and Design BFA graduate Dominic Chambers has also been making his mark in the national art scene. Chambers, who also earned a MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2019, has been written about in several publications. In 2020, articles about Chambers and his work were in Cultured, Create and Juxtapoz Magazines. Forbes Magazine included Chambers in their list of 30 under 30 upcoming artists and designers. Dominic Chambers is considered one of the younger artists in America whose career is on the rise. He now lives New Haven, Connecticut.

It is not just African American artists who used to reside in Wisconsin who are receiving press click image to see artist’s website coverage outside of the state. Wisconsin artists Sharon Kerry-Harlan, Sonji Hunt, Mutope J. Johnson, Tia Richardson, and I have been mentioned in articles from the national press. All of these artists live in Milwaukee. The New York Times featured Sharon Kerry-Harlan’s quilt “Bloody Sunday” in an article written by Patricia Leigh Brown about a series of seven quilt exhibitions in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. The exhibitions were curated by Carolyn L. Mazloomi, artist and founder of the national Women of Color Quilters Network. The article was published in the December 16th edition of The New York Times. Harlan has exhibited nationally and internationally and is in collections worldwide, including the United States Embassy in South Africa.

Sharon Kerry-Harlan’s “Bloody Sunday” quilt.

Also in December of 2020, an article by Jessi Virtusio appeared in The Chicago click image to see artist’s website Tribune about Prairie State College’s Christopher Art Gallery’s online fiber exhibition “Threads” which included the work of artist Sonji Hunt. Hunt was one of five artists in the exhibition. Hunt’s artwork “Broken Landscape” was featured in Jess Virtusio’s article. Hunt’s has also exhibited and is in art collections nationally.

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In 2015, The Chipstone Foundation commissioned Mutope J Johnson to create eight paintings for their Dave Project Gallery in the Milwaukee Art Museum. One of the paintings, “John Hemings” (John Hemings was the brother of Sally Hemings, an enslaved black woman owned by President Thomas Jefferson and the mother of six of his children), was featured in the article “The Master is Free, The Legendary Skill of John Hemings, An African- American Artisan and Master Craftsman” which appeared in issue nine of Mortise & Tenon Magazine last year. The article was written by Canlin J. Frost. Johnson also teaches at the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater and his work is in private and corporate collections, including Northwestern Mutual Insurance.

Tia Richardson in front of the “Rockford Takes Flight” mural in Rockford, Illinois.

click image to see artist’s website

Muralist Tia Richardson was the lead artist in the creation of a mural “Rockford Takes Flight” in Rockford, Illinois. The mural took more than two months and Richardson worked with over two hundred Rockford residents to complete the mural. Last July, Shaquil Manigault wrote an article about Richardson and the mural project in the newspaper, The Rockford Register Star. Manigualt wrote “The mural is Richardson’s interpretation of the city’s ability to overcome challenges, highlighting the existing good within the community and a vision for what Rockford is striving to be”. This is much in line with Richardson’s practice in Milwaukee. Richardson has created and worked on more than fifty murals. Most were created in Milwaukee. Working with communities are a big part of her art practice. Last November, Portrait Society Gallery was one of the galleries that participated in the virtual art fair Intersect Chicago, which was done in lieu of the Sofa Art Fair due to COVID. I was one of the artists that the gallery put on their virtual site along with Sharon Kerry-Harlan and Rosemary Ollison. Paul Laster a writer and contributing editor of Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art wrote an article “25 Art and 38 | artsscene

Design Picks from Intersect Chicago” for the magazine. The article wrote about twenty five favorite artworks at the fair, including my collage “Our Ancestors Remind Us That We Will Survive This America.” My artwork was my commentary on the state of America for African Americans amidst COVID and the current political climate. It is a reminder that African Americans have much in the past and we will survive what is going on currently. Wisconsin African American artists are not just getting media coverage outside of Wisconsin for being in exhibitions, doing projects and shows elsewhere. Media outlets from outside of Milwaukee have also covered exhibitions here in the city. New City Art Visual, Art Culture of Chicago, and Beyond online newsletter did a review of Ariana Vaeth’s solo exhibition at the Lynden Sculpture Garden. Another online art publication, Hyperallergic, had an article about Fellowship Art’s and Green Gallery’s online exhibition to benefit BIPOC Trans Youth, which included the works of LaNia Sproles. Last November, Debra Brehmer wrote a review for Hyperallergic about former Milwaukee based artist Khari Turner’s exhibition “Soles of My People” that was featured at Nō Studios. Yes, there are Wisconsin African and others who have ties with Wisconsin that are being written about. How does one find about them? My answer is always the same: Google.

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Black Arts MKE, the newest UPAF Member Group, has been awarded a generous grant from The Black Seed, a national strategic initiative focused on creating impact and “thrivability” for Black theater institutions. “Black Arts MKE has served as Milwaukee’s premiere arts and culture organization dedicated to increasing the availability and quality of African American arts for our community. As our community addresses the converging pandemics of COVID-19 and ongoing racial injustices, this prestigious award enables us to build upon our multidisciplinary arts platforms to inspire pride, empower, and provide opportunities for local professional and emerging artists of color,“ says Black Arts MKE Board Chair Cory Nettles.


On Thursday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m., leaders from Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton, Marcus Performing Arts Center in Milwaukee, and Overture Center in Madison will join together to discuss how they are working together to address issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and extended closures, coordinate digital programming and promote the value of the arts statewide. Panel members will address the benefits and outcomes of their collaborative relationship, how advocacy for the arts industry has become a priority in their roles and what milestones must be met for the centers to reopen. The forum is free and open to the public.


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Forward Theater is currently presenting their virtual presentation of The Niceties. In The Niceties, Zoe, a Black student at a liberal arts college, is called into her white professor’s office to discuss her paper about slavery’s effect on the American Revolution. What begins as a polite clash in perspectives explodes into an urgent debate about race, history, and power. This performance was filmed at separate locations and stitched together with green screens and other visual and technical effects. A must see production!


MSO has worked hard for the past few years fundraising, constructing, and getting ready to make a new home of the Bradley Symphony Center. Through technical difficulties and a pandemic, they are ready to stage their first performance in the space on February 6th… without an audience. However, virtual audiences will be able to tune in and get a first look at the former Warner Grand Theatre and a taste of the beautiful music MSO is known for. Eighteen musicians will perform during the Feb. 6 concert, though no more than six at a time, in socially distanced arrangements.


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Skylight Music Theatre will offer a rare insider’s look at the making of a new musical when it presents the first staged concert reading of Fortunate Sons, featuring music and lyrics by legendary Oscar and Grammy Award-winner Paul Williams. The reading will be live streamed on Friday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. A maximum of 350 patrons per reading will be admitted. Tickets are free, but contributions are appreciated. Reservations are required and will be made available first to Skylight subscribers, donors, and supporters, who will receive email invitations. Any remaining tickets will be made available to a wider audience beginning February 8.


For over 25 years, Arts Wisconsin has been all about growing Wisconsin creatively and equitably. This work has never been more important than right now. As Wisconsin’s leading independent community cultural development organization, Arts Wisconsin is activating creativity as essential to meet the moment and move into the future. This year, Arts Wisconsin is participating in The Big Share. The Big Share is a fun, easy and flexible way to donate to and learn more about organizations making a difference in our community. The Big Share is hosted by Community Shares of Wisconsin (CSW) for 70 local nonprofits dedicated to building an equitable and just community and protecting our environment.


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E VE N T L I ST I NGS Check out some of Southern Wisconsin's best upcoming virtual and in-person arts offerings! Want to see your event in an upcoming issue? Click here!

ESCAPE FROM PELIGRO ISLAND First Stage Virtual Event Through February 6 Callaway Brown - an unlikely young hero - has been stranded on a desert island, and it’s up to YOU to decide what happens next!

THE NICETIES Forward Theater Virtual Event Through February 7 Zoe, a Black student at a liberal arts college, is called into her white professor’s office to discuss her paper about slavery’s effect on the American Revolution.

NYKOLI KOSLOW: NEW ARTIST IN RESIDENCE The Pfister Hotel Milwaukee, WI Through March 31st A Milwaukee based artist working in the realm of painting and drawing, Nykoli fuses figuration with abstraction to explore notions of gender, sexuality, and agency.

VIRTUAL DRAG QUEEN BINGO Delta Beer Lab Virtual Event Through April 9 The very fabulous Kendra Banxs and Bianca Lynn Breeze will be calling numbers for our first Virtual Drag Queen Bingo!

RAFAEL FRANCISCO SALAS: IN FLOWERED FIELDS Saint Kate Arts Hotel Milwaukee, WI Through May 2 In Flowered Fields pairs Salas’ recent work with rarely seen art from MOWA’s permanent collection, initiating a visual dialogue with the tradition of Wisconsin landscape painting.

WARHOL AND THE PORTFOLIO OF FAME: THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF DOUGLAS EDMUNDS Museum of Wisconsin Art West Bend, WI Through May 2 Douglas Edmunds spent six years captured photos of some of America’s most famous faces: Andy Warhol, Hank Aaron, Ella Fitzgerald, Aaron Copeland, and more.

2021 YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL Milwaukee Chamber Theatre Virtual Event February 1-28 In the midst of our country’s accelerated civil rights movement and the societal paradigm-shift of the pandemic, MCT has been fortunate to continue solicitation of the work of young voices.

UPCYCLING EXHIBIT REMNANTS: WISCONSIN MUSEUM OF QUILTS AND FIBER ARTS Cedarburg, WI February 4-April 25 Exploring innovative ways artists give new life to recycled materials by creating stunning fiber-based works of art.

JAKE REVOLVER, FREELANCE SECRET AGENT Waukesha Civic Theatre Waukesha, WI Feb 5-21 In this radio- noir, private detective parody, Jake Revolver fights against conspiracy, double-cross, and self-reference to uncover the killer of his own narrator.

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Fireside Dinner Theatre Fort Atkinson, WI February 6 Join us for an original stand-up comedy show from one of the best, New York based Tom Briscoe.

Cedarburg Cultural Center Cedarburg, WI February 6-April 17 A variety of subjects in this series, including urban landscapes, natural landscapes, interiors, figures and faces and close-ups as well as depth and distance composition.


Renaissance Theaterworks Virtual Event February 9-20 It's time for Andy and Laura's Painting for Two – the BEST paint-by-numbers instructional show on public access WBPP!


Waukesha Civic Theatre Waukesha, WI February 10-11 Some of our favorite WCT actors will bring us songs and scenes from some of the greatest romances in animated, cinematic, and television history


Village Playhouse West Allis, WI February 11-21 This play tells the Biblical story of Salomé, the stepdaughter of Herod Antipas who requests the head of Iokanaan on a silver platter as a reward for pleasing Herod.

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Next Act Theatre Virtual Event February 11-March 7 Kay wants to make a difference so she quits her corporate job and heads for Chicago’s South Side to teach English. But this year will be extra tough. Schauer Arts Center Hartford, WI February 12-13 Mark Nizer changes the way people view the world, literally - 4D glasses are worn during this performance for maximum effect!


Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts Fon du Lac, WI February 13 This husband & wife-based group dishes up an eclectic, intriguing mix of acoustic folk, rock and blues tunes!


Fireside Dinner Theatre Fort Atkinson, WI February 13-14 Our Valentine’s Concert features popular piano guy Steve Wats with Tommy Hahn and Norrell Moore bringing you some of the greatest love songs of all time.


Waukesha Expo Center Waukesha, WI February 15-16 100 booths of the Midwest’s finest exhibitors showing a wide variety of handmade arts and crafts.


Ghostlight High School Kewaskum, WI February 18-20 The Last Five Years depicts the five year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein and Catherine Hiatt.


Olbrich Botanical Gardens Madison, WI February 20 FeLion Studios and Olbrich Botanical Gardens are excited to continue to deliver a spectacular spectacle of hot metal at the 12th annual Pour'n Yer Heart Out community event!


Fireside Dinner Theatre Fort Atkinson, WI February 20-21 ABBAFAB presents a stunning tribute to the music of ABBA including monster hits such as Waterloo, Fernando, Honey Honey, Dancing Queen so you can party like it’s 1979!


Alliant Energy Center Madison, WI February 20-21 Wisconsin Public Television’s Garden Expo is a midwinter oasis for people ready to venture out and dig their hands in the dirt.


Wisconsin Union Theater Madison, WI February 21 Serbian flutist Dr. Iva Ugrčić is one of the most exciting and adventurous young flutists in the international pantheon.


Overture Center for the Arts Virtual Event February 23-24 Groundbreaking new science is changing what we thought we knew about how dinosaurs looked, moved, and lived.


Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Virtual Event February 26 After a full opening in January, this program is weighted towards the strings and percussion.

INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL Overture Center for the Arts Virtual Event February 27-28 Shake the February doldrums with a free celebration of our international community in Dane County—all from the comfort of your home.


Schauer Arts Center Hartford, WI March 6 Allow yourself to be drawn back in time as the pure, sweet harmonies of The Radio Rosies recall the nostalgia and enchantment of jazz, boogie-woogie, and swing.


Memories Dinner Theatre Port Washington, WI March 12-21 Retired burlesque queen Beatrice Shelton desperately needs a vacation -- and NOT another trip up to Helen, Georgia to see that "precious little German village for the umpteenth time."


Waukesha Civic Theatre Waukesha, WI March 12-28 George is consumed with the preserving and documenting of dying languages from far-flung cultures. At home, however, his own language is failing him.

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Renaissance Theaterworks Virtual Event March 19-April 11 With her enormous love, Neat teaches Charlayne to cherish life through the turbulent 1960s and 1970s.

TOUR THE TOWN ART WALK: GALLERY NIGHT Gallery & Frame Shop Fon du Lac, WI March 19 Fond du Lac’s Gallery Night is a fun and free way to explore the arts. Most of the galleries participating are within walking distance of each other.

SPOTLIGHT ARTIST VIRTUAL CABARET Bombshell Theatre Co. Elm Grove, WI March 19 Our first, virtual, cabaret will delight audiences from young to old as we shine a spotlight on performers here in the Milwaukee community with classic Broadway showtunes.


Ubuntu Art Space Fon du Lac, WI March 19-May 28 "My body of artwork is made up of a wide array of materials I have been salvaging and collecting since I was a child.”


Schauer Arts Center Hartford, WI March 20 DSQ Electric is an international music sensation. A fusion of classical and contemporary music on both traditional and electric strings

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WISCONSIN SOUND SERIES: JOHANNES WALLMANN QUINTET Wisconsin Union Theater Madison, WI March 21 Johannes Wallmann is a pianist and composer, recording artist on Fresh Sound New Talent Records and Shifting Paradigm Records, and the Director of Jazz Studies at the UW-Madison.


Waukesha Civic Theatre Waukesha, WI March 24-25 Local performers team up with Ami Majeskie and Kiera Matthews to play their dream roles in this entertaining cabaret.


Present Music Virtual Event March 26 From chilly sounds to warm radiance to music that pulses with life, this intimate chamber program welcomes the season we’ve all been wishing for.


Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra Virtual Event Two women composers are featured on this program, including Alyssa Morris and Jessie Montgomery.

VIRTUAL MAKERS MARKET Nō Studios Virtual Event

March 27

The Nō Studios Virtual Makers Market is an online expo and hybrid experience designed for makers to showcase their crafts while educating and inspiring new audiences.


Overture Center of the Arts Madison, WI March 31 In a performance that will surely rock you, One Night of Queen is a tribute to the popular British rock band and its front man, the electric and charismatic Freddie Mercury.


Sunset Playhouse Elm Grove, WI April 15-May 2 On a Midsummer’s night, four young lovers find themselves wrapped in the dream-like arms of an enchanted forest where sprites lurk and fairies rule.


Memories Dinner Theatre Port Washington, WI April 9-18 The action of the show takes place in Wes and Rosie’s Tavern, a local establishment with an interesting collection of clientele.



Schauer Arts Center Hartford, WI April 10 ABBA Mania has toured the world in its quest to bring the music of ABBA to their millions of fans, old and new!

Schauer Arts Center Hartford, WI April 17 Rockapella has toured the globe and provided a funky powerful soundtrack to several generations of vocal music fans.

OTHER PEOPLE'S HAPPINESS: A STAGED READING Lake Country Playhouse Hartland, WI April 23-25 John and Sara have a typically unhappy marriage. One summer weekend John takes Sara up to the family cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin to rekindle those old flames.

CLICK HERE to submit your events

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The OAC is the place to go in Lake Country and features a variety of shows for all ages, offering music and dance concerts, theatrical performances, comedy, special events, visual arts, community forums, and more. The OAC features comfortable unobstructed seating for over 750, state of the art acoustics, a convenient location, and free parking. Check our website for current event listings.

641 E. Forest St. Oconomowoc, WI 53066

2020-2021 SeasoN

Entertainment begins at Sunset!

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Furlan Auditorium Productions

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM - April 15 – May 2, 2021 AN INSPECTOR CALLS - June 3 – 20, 2021 NEWSIES - July 15 – August 8, 2021

Musical MainStage Concert Series

SGT. PEPPER ON ABBEY ROAD - June 7 -8, 2021 JOHNNY CASH & FRIENDS - July 19-20, 2021 DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’ - August 9-10, 2021

After Sunset Studio Series

THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES - May 20 – 23, 2021

Special Events

KERRY SINGS CARLY & KAREN - May 22 – 23, 2021 FOUR GUYZ IN DINNER JACKETS - August 19 – September 5, 2021


ACTLikeYouCare on Etsy.com

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Word Search


Try and find some of our favorite well recognized black artists in this month’s “Black Arts Matter” Word Search!

Word Bank Maya Angelou August Wilson Oprah Winfrey

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Toni Morrison Whitney Houston Aretha Franklin

Louis Armstrong Duke Ellington Ray Charles

Don't miss out on next month's issue of


FOR FREE! february2021 | 51

YOUR DREAMS DESERVE A SUPPORTING CAST Hard work. Determination. Sacrifices. At American Family Insurance, we know what it takes to make your dreams a reality. That’s why we work so hard to protect them. From behind the scenes to center stage, we’ll surround you with support every step of the way. Learn more at amfam.com

American Family Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. 6000 American Parkway, Madison, WI 53783 © 2021 017611 – 1/12

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Profile for Footlights.com

February 2021 ArtsScene Magazine  

February 2021 Issue: Black Arts Matter

February 2021 ArtsScene Magazine  

February 2021 Issue: Black Arts Matter

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