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Bronzeville Arts Ensemble Aims to Illuminate the Black Experience


This week the Bronzeville Arts Ensemble presents its first play. The Mojo and the Sayso opens at the Milwaukee Rep’s Stimke Theatre Thursday night. It will run here through the weekend and then head over to Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts to play there for a couple of weeks.

Though Bronzeville Arts Ensemble is in partnership with The Rep, the company has their own distinct mission and ways of looking at how to produce theater.

Malkia Stampley, producing artistic director, says she took part in creating the ensemble because she found herself sorely underrepresented in Milwaukee's theater world.

"When you grow up as an African American in Milwaukee – in my experience and many of my peers – you feel like there’s this thick, glass ceiling, this thick glass wall where you see all the development, you see all of these organizations thriving, and you don’t feel like it’s yours," Stampley says.

Stampley, along with five others, founded the Bronzeville Arts Ensemble in order to create a platform for black emerging producers, writers, stage managers and actors. By creating new plays and musicals through the lense of the black experience, the group hopes to educate, engage and inspire new talent in the City of Milwaukee.

"I have to continuously ask myself ‘what am I going to do about the state of Black theater?’ And if I’m not satisfied that we don’t have a platform and we aren't represented, what am I doing today to further that?" Stampley says.

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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.