Black Arts MKE Announces 2023 MKE Black Theatre Festival

MILWAUKEE (May 10, 2023) – Black Arts MKE is excited to announce the return of the MKE Black Theatre Festival, taking place from August 9-27, 2023. This year’s festival is expanding from one week to a three-week-long celebration of Black arts and culture. The festival will offer ticketed and free events that include two full-production plays, a play development workshop, an audition masterclass, Black Nativity by Langston Hughes auditions, Reflections on Black History with Evertt Marshburn, a poetry set, and more. Events will take place at various venues throughout Milwaukee including Marquette University, The Table at Alice’s Garden, Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum, and Studio 4A at Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. For a full schedule visit Tickets will go on-sale in June.

This year’s lineup will feature two full-production plays: MUD ROW by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Marti Gobel and THE MEETING by Jeff Stetson, directed by Denzel Taylor.

Mud Row follows two generations of sisters in an area in the East End of West Chester, Pennsylvania called “Mud Row” while attempting to work through themes of race, class, love, loss and family, in order to break and bend generational patterns set before them. The production is a new collaboration with Marquette University’s VIP Theatre Program.

The Meeting is a fascinating one-act play that depicts the supposed meeting of two of the most important men of modern times: Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In addition to the fully-mounted productions, the festival will also feature a variety of other events located at community venues across the city, including:

• Reflections on Black History with Everett Marshburn, facilitated by Sheri Williams Pannell and Clayborn Benson III

• Youth & Family Night directed by Ashley S. Jordan


• AIR QUOTE MIKE, A play development workshop with Marti Gobel

• Audition Masterclass with Marti Gobel

• Poetry Set with Cedric Dale Hoard & Jasmine Sims

“We are thrilled and proud to bring back the MKE Black Theatre Festival to our city,” said Kyndal Johnson and Vato Vergara, Festival Directors for the 2023 MKE Black Theatre Festival. “This year’s festival is our biggest and best yet, and we can’t wait to share it with the community.”

The festival is produced by Black Arts MKE, a Black-led performing arts organization that serves predominantly Black communities. Black Arts MKE is committed to increasing the availability and quality of African American arts and culture.

Major supporters and sponsors for the MKE Black Theatre Festival include BMO Harris Bank, National Endowment for the Arts, The Black Seed, and the United Performing Arts Fund.

For more information about the MKE Black Theatre Festival, please visit

Black Arts MKE’s mission is to increase the availability and quality of African American arts and culture. We’re a Black-led performing arts organization who serves predominantly Black communities. We produce, present, and/or commission new performance arts works including classic works, readings, conversations, and festivals, as well as Black-led institutions focused on Black audience development, all rooted in the full diversity, complexity, and intersectionality of the Black Experience. Black Arts MKE’s annual signature events – MKE Black Theatre Festival and Black Nativity by Langston Hughes musical are annual Milwaukee favorites and feature all-black, MKE-area based cast. We’re a recipient of the APAP ArtsForward, NEA Grant for Arts Projects, The Black Seed and Theatre Communications Group national awards. Black Arts MKE is a producing theatre with World Premier Wisconsin. We are a member of TYA/USA, proud Member Group of the United Performing Arts Fund and Resident Group at the Marcus Performing Arts Center. Black Arts MKE is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation.

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