Milwaukee Rep Offers Residency To Bronzeville Arts Ensemble
by KP Whaley
Many African-American-led theaters around the country are struggling to stay afloat so the recent announcement that the Milwaukee Repertory Theater offered residency to the Bronzeville Arts Ensemble for their next season couldn’t come at a better time.
“We’re at a crisis point, I do believe,” said Malkia Stampley, producing artistic director for Bronzeville. “There are [a few successful theaters] that have been going strong … but there is still a need to continue adding to the American theater community and to make sure that African-American directors, producers and writers have a platform to create art.”
Stampley and seven other Milwaukee artists founded Bronzeville in 2013 to address the lack of black theater in Milwaukee while bringing great stories and performances to the area with a black perspective.
Stampley, was raised in what she called one of “the most disadvantaged zip codes areas in Wisconsin, 53206” and yet, still considers herself a product of theater.
Stampley said she believes the insight and connections that she and others in the have to the local African-American community will help bring new perspective to the “Rep,” while looking for ways to work together to reach that community in collaboration.
“There is a great opportunity for us to work together with larger budget/arts organizations to help increase their diversity effort while supporting the work they are already doing,” said Stampley.
She also hopes the partnership will help Bronzeville will provide the opportunities and connections to reach new talent in local youth and make theater accessible to them and others in the community.
“I feel like art should be free and accessible, and of course that can be difficult. But whatever way we’re able to do that; whether it’s partnering with the recreation department, having plays in the park, or going to the schools, we’re going to find ways to do that,” she said.
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