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The donor newsletter of Milwaukee Repertory Theater

You’ve got to love life to have life, and you’ve got to have life to love life. – Stage Manager, Our Town

Issue 8 • Spring 2018


Mark Clements

Chad Bauman

Dear Friends, It feels like just yesterday that we kicked off the season with Guys and Dolls, and yet here we are with our 64th Season in the books. Right now, crews are demolishing our beloved Stackner Cabaret to prepare for its first major renovation. Thanks to the generosity of lead donors Vince & Jan Martin, and more than 125 generous other donors, we raised a total of $1.75 million to support this project and are now fully funded. See the next page for these improvements and our Curtain Call Ball, “A Night at the Cabaret,” which helped make this renovation a reality. Our innovative program, The Neighbor Series, was among the many highlights of this season. More than 5,400 patrons and community members participated in 80 free events in conjunction with One House Over, Until The Flood, and Our Town. Additionally, approximately 140 theater and community engagement practitioners descended upon Milwaukee from March 23–26 for the inaugural Intersections Summit. This firstof-its-kind event provoked conversations about the intersectionality of art, social justice, and engagement. Theaters across the country have already expressed interest in hosting the Summit next year! Read more about this landmark event on page 5. Looking ahead, we recently announced that Pulitzer Prize-winner Ayad Akhtar, Bladen Burns, and Deborah Tomczyk will be joining our Board of Trustees for the 2018/19 Season. By the same token, we wish to extend our deepest gratitude to those Trustees who are cycling off our Board, including Patsy Aster, Jim Braza, Mark Diliberti, Abigail Nash, Micky Sadoff, and Steve VanderBloemen. We are grateful for their many years of service.


Now, of course, we are looking toward our landmark 65th Anniversary Season. This will be the largest season in decades – both In The Heights and Junk will feature casts of more than 20 actors each and we are adding a long-awaited third production in the Stiemke Studio. Three of our productions will travel to Phoenix, Tucson, Seattle, and Cincinnati after their run at The Rep. We will also feature professional productions from both our training programs in our season lineup. It’s going to be one for the record books and we can’t wait to share it with you. Finally, we are thrilled to continue our partnership with Ayad Akhtar beyond our original four-year agreement. In addition to mounting his latest work, Junk, we are collaborating with Akhtar to adapt his novel, American Dervish, and will host its world premiere in a future season. None of this incredible work would be possible without your unwavering support. Thank you for all that you do for The Rep!


Mark Clements Artistic Director

Chad Bauman Managing Director

2018 CURTAIN CALL BALL: A NIGHT AT THE CABARET On May 12th more than 420 people joined us at our annual Curtain Call Ball (formerly known as the Gala), “A Night at the Cabaret,” The Rep’s single largest fundraiser of the year. Each year the Curtain Call Ball raises money for a different aspect of The Rep’s activities. This year, the Ball sold out well in advance and raised $695,155, with $328,800 earmarked to support this summer’s renovation of the Stackner Cabaret. Renovations will be complete by the start of the 2018/19 Season and will increase audience comfort, further our production capacity, and expand seating from 132 to 190. These improvements will allow us to serve nearly 20,000 additional patrons each year and will increase our gross potential box office revenue by $600,000 annually, allowing a greater investment in our education and community engagement programs.n

Curtain Call Ball co-chairs Laura & Adam Peck and Mara & Craig Swan.

Guests enjoy cocktails during the Silent Auction.

Save the date for next year’s Curtain Call Ball on May 11, 2019.

Here are the design renderings for the new space!



Laura Braza

RAPID FIRE Q&A Favorite part of Milwaukee? River Walk/Third Ward Miller, Lakefront Brewery, or New Glarus? New Glarus. Spotted Cow, come on! Favorite Custard? Kopps Soda or pop? It’s soda. Favorite spot in The Rep? The Hub Coffee order? Black

Growing up in Milwaukee, Laura Braza started attending The Rep at the age of six. In fact, she credits seeing shows at The Rep as a huge reason why she chose a career in the theater. Specifically, it was her favorite Rep production she’s ever seen - a powerful version of Mary Stuart she saw in high school, where she vividly remembers Laura Gordon and Deb Staples “tearing the roof off the place.” Braza made her Rep debut directing our 2016/17 production of Grounded. Since then she has directed Souvenir and Always… Patsy Cline in the 2017/18 Season and is coming back in the 2018/19 Season to direct Songs for Nobodies, an American premiere that will open the newly renovated Stackner Cabaret. Now returning to The Rep to direct her fourth production, we wanted to give you the chance to get to know her better… Did you always want to be a director? I thought I wanted to be an actor until I arrived at acting school, where I realized being an actor was not for me. I like telling people what to do, so directing seemed like a natural fit, and it turns out it is! How would you describe your directing style? My directing style is very collaborative. I’m most interested in what the actors bring to a performance and knowing how my choices as the director can support them.

What is your favorite directing experience at The Rep so far? My favorite directing experience at The Rep thus far was Grounded. It was a story that meant a lot to me and it was the first time that I worked at The Rep. There was this place where I had seen theater my entire life and suddenly I was working there. That feeling of ‘Oh my god, this is happening’ hit my stomach every day when I walked into the building. You have some family connections to The Rep, as your father recently served on the Board of Trustees. What is it like to have that shared experience? It’s really fun to be able to talk to my family about theater, especially talking to my parents about the theater they are helping create as a Trustee and as donors, and the theater that I am helping create as an artist. It’s been a really special way for us to bond. What is it like directing at a regional theater vs. in New York? The coolest thing about directing at a regional theater, especially at The Rep (because this isn’t true everywhere) is that you have such a dedicated, supportive staff that has the resources they need to do what they want. It creates a really fantastic artistic collaboration. I miss being in New York but really love the work that we get to do here. Being a part of the theater in my hometown is truly special.n

What makes you happiest? When an actor really clicks with something in rehearsal. Also puppies.


The American premiere “Songs for Nobodies” is part of our John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program as well as part of the Camille and David Kundert Stackner Season.


This spring, The Rep produced The Neighbor Series, three plays about community and what it means to be a neighbor: One House Over by Catherine Trieschmann, Until the Flood by Dael Orlandersmith, and Our Town by Thornton Wilder. What made The Neighbor Series unique was the more than 80 community events between March–May 2018 that engaged the broader Milwaukee community in conversations about themes and topics raised in each play, including racism, immigration, elder care, and community.

Here are a few highlights:





To learn more about the impact of The Neighbor Series and watch videos of each Community Responder, visit



PTI PROGRAM HELPS THEATER DREAMS TAKE FLIGHT Now in its second year, The Rep’s Professional Training Institute (PTI) trains and mentors the next generation of local talent. PTI provides 9th-12th grade students eight months of free training through monthly workshops with some of the nation’s leading artists. The program culminates in a summer production in the Stiemke Studio in which the students are employed as paid, professional actors. The 2017/18 PTI ensemble of 16 students will present the world premiere of Lost Girl by Kimberly Belflower from July 19–22, 2018. Lost Girl is a coming-ofage exploration of first love and lasting loss that continues the story of J.M. Barrie’s beloved Peter Pan character Wendy, the girl who had to grow up. Kenyon Terrell is featured in the production as Slightly, a Lost Boy described as “brooding, kind, and firecely loyal.” We asked him to share what the PTI program has meant to him.

PTI has given me much needed clarity on what it means to be a professional actor who is also invested in his community.


Kenyon Terrell Marquette University High School Class of 2018 What made you decide to audition? I auditioned for PTI because I believe any person who hopes to succeed in any field needs to surround him or herself with others with the same drive and passion. I knew that at PTI I would bear witness to astounding talent and commitment. I had no idea how right I would be about that! PTI has given me much needed clarity on what it means to be a professional actor who is also invested in his community. I think the program is very valuable, and I am glad to have been a part of it. What has been your favorite masterclass? The most challenging? My favorite masterclass has been the auditioning workshop led by Frank Hontz, The Rep’s Casting Director and Director of the Emerging Professional Residency program. The workshop I enjoyed the least was the dance intensive workshop. However, even that one gave me great insight into the world of auditioning for professional shows and the resourcefulness an actor must have to survive rejection. Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope to be enrolled in a Masters Program for acting, and to continue in my growth and versatility as a performer. What advice would you give other middle and high school students who want to participate in theater, but maybe don’t know where to start? Find something you love. The best art you can or will make will emerge from something that you feel passionate about. Don’t try to recreate what “the greats” are doing. They’ve already done that, now it’s your turn. Tell your story.n

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR MARK? Submit your questions to and see his answers in an upcoming issue!

What was it like directing Chess in Denmark this past December? Chess is one of those shows I’ve been wanting to direct my entire career. I have known the producer of the production, Mikkel Rønnow, since 2004 when I was working in the UK. At that time, he approached me to direct a Danish production of My Fair Lady and we have remained friends since. He’s asked me to direct productions over the years, but I’ve been focused on directing productions at The Rep and building my life in Milwaukee. Then two years ago, he approached me with this project and this time I couldn’t pass up the opportunity! The goal was to produce the first professional production of Chess in Danish. We started hosting auditions in Copenhagen back in January 2017 and ultimately hired a combination of Danish and Swedish actors, who are considered some of the best singers in Europe right now. I’ve always loved the music in Chess but the book has been problematic for me. It never had a story that was emotionally compelling or cohesive. This was an incredible opportunity to work on a new translation and make different decisions to amp up the storyline. With some specific changes, we were able to give the play much higher emotional stakes.

about the emotional beats and underlying motivations, and then translate any changes to the script back into Danish. The most difficult part was that the Danish language doesn’t have as many words as English, so a lot of the emotional concepts didn’t make sense in Danish. We had to go back and forth to find the right words to accurately express the nuanced emotions and intent. After we worked with the actors and the translator to get what we wanted out of each scene, we then found the way to say it in Danish. All in all, this process took nearly four weeks to complete. Once the production opened, it received 23 five-star reviews throughout Copenhagen and the rest of Denmark. This type of praise is almost unheard of! It was incredibly well received by the public. It was an amazing experience and I was proud to be a part of it. The reviews were just the icing on the cake. n

The biggest challenge was directing in a foreign language. Most everyone in Denmark speaks a little English, so I was able to communicate most things verbally. During the rehearsal process, we had a translator on staff who would translate the script from Danish to English, the actors and I would have our usual roundtable discussions Mark Clements gives notes during a technical rehearsal for Chess.


Cover photo, Milwaukee Repertory Theater ends the 2017/18 Season on a high note with Our Town in the Quadracci Powerhouse from April 10 – May 13, 2018 featuring Di’Monte Henning, Cher Desiree Alvarez, James Ridge and company. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

EVENT RECAP: PLAY READING CLUB In the 2017/18 Season we introduced a new donor benefit called Play Reading Club. Donors read the script for our world premiere production of One House Over by Catherine Trieschmann and had an intimate discussion of the play with Rep Associate Artistic Director and Director of New Play Development Brent Hazelton. Donor Elaine Sweet shares her positive experience:

UPCOMING EVENTS AUGUST DATE TBD Backstage Tour This benefit for donors $100+ provides an exclusive backstage tour of all three theaters, production shops, and administrative offices. Learn about the 65-year history of The Rep and how we produce shows today! AUGUST DATE TBD In the Heights First Rehearsal All are invited to join us in kicking off the season at the public First Rehearsal for In the Heights. Get a sneak peek of the production from Director May Adrales, hear exclusive preview performances of music from the show, and socialize with members of the cast.

“Imagine having the opportunity to read and discuss a new play before anyone else – apart from those involved with the production, of course! “About a dozen of us gathered in a Rep rehearsal hall. We had been sent a draft of One House Over to read ahead of time and there was no doubt the group came prepared with opinions and questions. Facilitated by Brent Hazelton, the discussion was wide ranging. When Hazelton asked which character we would save from drowning, if we could save only one, it was so interesting to find out that there was little agreement. “The most exciting part for me, however, didn’t take place during the Play Reading Club at all. That happened after the play opened and the scenes I had imagined in my head came to life on stage. The entire experience gave me a deeper appreciation for the production and the choices made by the director and the actors.”

SEPTEMBER 4, 2018 Stackner Cabaret Grand Opening Donors to the Stackner Cabaret Renovation are invited to join us for an exclusive unveiling of the new venue prior to the first performance of the season. OCTOBER 15, 2018 Limelight Legacy Society Lunch with Playwright Eric Simonson and The Violent Femmes’ Frontman Gordon Gano Members of the Limelight Legacy Society are invited to join us for a private lunch in the newly-renovated Stackner Cabaret with Playwright Eric Simonson and Gordon Gano of The Violent Femmes. Through a conversation moderated by a member of The Rep’s Artistic Staff, hear from both artists about the new plays they are working on for The Rep’s John (Jack) D. Lewis New Play Development Program. For a full list of events, please visit


Issue 8 • Spring 2018 Milwaukee Repertory Theater • Development Department 108 E. Wells Street • Milwaukee, WI 53202 Chuck Rozewicz Chief Development Officer

Amy Dorman Director of Development

Laura Fish Major Gifts Officer

Meghan Roesner Associate Director of Development, Institutional Giving

Shannon Theiss Associate Director of Development, Events & Stewardship

Katie Krueger Development Database Manager

To make a gift in support of Milwaukee Repertory Theater, please contact the Development Department at 414-290-5376 or visit

Drama Ink - Spring, 2018