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Black Arts MKE is proud to again present its Third Annual MKE Black Theatre Festival 2024, returning to community venues across the city from August 8-25. The three-week-long celebration of Black arts and culture features ticketed and free events including three full productions, staged reading, audition masterclass, auditions (staged reading & Black Nativity), Poetry Set with Jasmine Sims & more!

The 10th Anniversary Season of MKE Black Theatre Festival is generously supported by: National Endowment for the Arts, BMO Harris Bank, Northwestern Mutual, and Wisconsin Arts Board.

by Ntozake Shange

Directed by Linetta Alexander

Performance Dates:  August 8 – 12, 15 – 16, 22 – 25 | 7:30pm, Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall, Marcus Center

In for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf Ntozake Shange illuminates the kaleidoscope of Black women's experiences, weaving a vibrant tapestry of resilience, pain, and triumph. The play serves as a powerful testament to the interconnectedness of Black women, portraying their voices as instruments of empowerment and transformation. Through the poetic mosaic of individual narratives, it highlights the significance of Black women as a 'third place' for each other—a sanctuary where shared stories, sorrows, and joys converge to forge bonds of solidarity. In their collective strength, these women not only navigate the complexities of their lives but also spark movements, amplifying the potency of their voices to ignite change, resilience, and unyielding hope.

Ntozake Shange (1948-2018) was one of America’s greatest writers – an acknowledged master in the genres of drama, fiction, memoir and poetry. In a hugely prolific career, Shange wrote 15 plays, 19 poetry collections, 6 novels, 5 children’s books, 3 collections of essays, and a memoir called Lost in Language & Sound.

Her theatre piece for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf (dubbed a “choreopoem” for its highly original combination of music, poetry and dance) was a stunning success on Broadway in 1976-1977. Considered a landmark not just in American theatre but also in theatre worldwide, it won an Obie while still off-Broadway at the Public Theater. for colored girls… has been performed continuously since then both in the United States and abroad, has remained in print since its publication in 1974, and was made into a movie by Tyler Perry in 2010.

for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf is presented with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel Frency, Inc. www.concordtheatricals.com

By Idris Goodwin

Directed by Denzel Taylor

Performance Dates:  August 8 – 11, 15 – 18, 22 – 25 | 7:30pm, Todd Wehr Theater, Marcus Center

1996 is an incredible time to be a hip-hop fan, so the moment T. O. escapes the suburbs, he plunges into the scene, eager to experience the culture for himself. It doesn't get much more real than Prima, a super-dope MC supporting her family, and the moment he meets her, T. O. falls madly in love. But when he becomes tangled in the lies he tells to get closer to her, he's forced to ask himself: is he after real love, or fulfilling a middle-class fantasy of rap? Idris Goodwin takes on tough questions of authenticity and class collision with humor, heart, and killer rhymes in a coming-of-age tale set to the beat of hip-hop history.

Idris Goodwin is a multiple award-winning playwright, breakbeat poet, content creator and arts champion. A 2021 United States Artist Fellow, Goodwin is recognized as a culture bearer who celebrates community values and cultivates histories with care. Idris is the author of over 60 original plays ranging from his Hip-Hop inspired breakbeat series to historical dramas to works for young audiences. Titles such as And In This Corner Cassius Clay, How We Got On, Hype Man: A Break Beat Play, This is Modern Art, and the ground-breaking Free  Play: open source scripts for an antiracist tomorrow, are widely produced across the country by a diverse mix of professional theaters, academic environments, and non-traditional spaces alike. Goodwin’s created original content for and/or appeared on Nickelodeon, HBO Def Poetry, Sesame Street, NPR, BBC Radio, and the Discovery Channel. “Your House is Not Just A House,” his first picture book, will be published by Harper Collins in 2024.  Passionate about cultivating new audiences in the arts, Idris served as Executive Director of The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College (the first Black man to hold the position in its 100-year history). Prior to that, Goodwin served two seasons as Producing Artistic Director at StageOne Family Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky. Idris sits on the board of the Children's Theatre Foundation Association and was recently named Board President of Theater For Young Audiences/USA.  Find him at www.idrisgoodwin.com and on all the socials

Buy Tickets for For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow Is Enuf
Buy Tickets for The Realness: A Break Beat Play

Event dates

August 7 - August 25

Show dates and locations vary. View the about info for each show to see times and theater locations.

Black Arts MKE Presents
Family , Free , Theater


Marcus Performing Arts Center
929 N Water St
Milwaukee, WI 53202 United States
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About Black Arts MKE

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.  Focused on youth education and Black audience development, all multi-disciplinary programming is rooted in the full diversity, complexity, and intersectionality of the Black Experience.  We annually produce signature events Milwaukee Black Theatre Festival, Black Nativity by Langston Hughes, and I AM. Summer Camp – featuring all-Black, MKE-based performing and teaching artists.

Learn more