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Milwaukee's Uprooted Theatre To Close Its Doors

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Adam Ryan Morris
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Dennis Johnson & Marti Gobel

A little over 6 years ago, a new theater company came onto the Milwaukee stage. Uprooted Theatre was formed by four Wisconsin African American theater professionals who wanted to ensure their stories were being told and actors of color were being hired – and not just for “black” parts.

Starting with their first production Beauty’s Daughter in 2009, the company went on to produce four fully staged plays, a dozen staged readings, cabarets and participated in a cultural exchange to South Africa. It’s also safe to say they raised the game for all other theater companies in Milwaukee – encouraging them to stage plays that tell African-American stories and to practice more color-blind casting.

"I do think that we've made a difference and that we've introduced people to the scene that may not have been introduced otherwise," says founding member Dennis Johnson.

The company will metaphorically close its doors after its last production – an all black version of Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer, which opens tonight at Next Act Theatre and runs through May 24th.

"This is bittersweet, but I'm so proud of the work that we've done. Locally, regionally, internationally, and the artists that we've had to work with and helped to grow and move forward," says founding member Marti Gobel.

Marti Gobel will star and Dennis Johnson will direct the company's last production, and they spoke of the importance of the theater's mission and ending on a high note:

For more information on Uprooted Theatre, read Milwaukee Magazine's feature article.

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.