"Fighting for equality and representation in a male-dominated field wasn’t easy. At first, we were the ‘lesbian theatre company.’ It was so ridiculous. And people saying nasty stuff, like ‘Well, you don’t want to exclude men!’ The fact that someone could say that with a straight face when at every other theatre company in town all of the work was written by men and acted by men and directed by men and produced by men… no one batted an eye about that.~Suzan Fete, co-founder and Artistic Director
Watch this twelve-minute interview or read this article to learn more about the origins of Renaissance Theaterworks.
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Recognizing a gender imbalance within professional theater, Suzan Fete, Marie Kohler, Raeleen McMillion, Jennifer Rupp and Michele Traband founded Renaissance Theaterworks in 1993 to produce excellent theatrical work while actively promoting the careers of women onstage and off.

Gender Parity in the Arts

The reality of gender parity in the performing arts is startling. Across the country, women are underrepresented as actors, directors, producers, designers, playwrights, and more.

For 31 seasons, we continue to be a leader in the global movement toward gender parity. Through our example and by empowering women theater artists to reach their full potential, we challenge biases with the plays we write and the stories we tell.

Since 1993, we have significantly improved gender parity in Milwaukee theater, by measures both quantitative and qualitative.

We've come a long way...

  • 1993

    Renaissance Theaterworks was founded.

    Produced our first show, A DIFFERENT MOON by Ara Watson, as a part of "Theatre X Presents Theatre’s Women Festival."

  • 1995

    Produced first World Premiere: COUNTING DAYS by Marie Kohler.

  • 1996

    Produced KINDERTRANSPORT by Diane Samuels, in collaboration with Next Act Theatre.

  • 1999

    First Subscription Season.

  • 2000

    World Premiere: MIDNIGHT AND MOLL FLANDERS by Marie Kohler.

    Became lead tenant at the Off-Broadway Theatre with Next Act Theatre.

  • 2001

    Hired Producing Director as first full-time staff and a part-time Marketing Director.

  • 2002

    World Premiere: RED PEPPER JELLY by Ericka Kreutz, Raeleen Mc Million, Jennifer Rupp, and John and Susan Nicholson.

  • 2005

    World Premiere: BOSWELL’S DREAMS by Marie Kohler.

    Moved to the Broadway Theatre Center.

  • 2008

    Hired Lisa Rasmussen as Development Director.

  • 2009

    World Premiere: THE DIG by Marie Kohler.

  • 2012

    Launched Br!NK – new play festival for Midwestern women playwrights.

    Produced LA ENFRASCADA by Tanya Saracho, the first professional all-Latinx show in Milwaukee.

  • 2013

    Produced NEAT by Charlayne Woodard, in South Africa, as part of our Story-Traveling cultural exchange program.

  • 2014

    Our production of LUCKY NUMBERS was finalist (1-12 out of 1500+) in the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival in New York City.

  • 2017

    Added Br!NK Br!efs to the Br!NK Festival.

  • 2018

    Lisa Rasmussen was named Managing Director.

    Hosted StateraArts International Convention on Gender Parity in the Arts.

  • 2019

    Rolling World Premiere & first fully produced Br!NK play: ANNIE JUMP AND THE LIBRARY OF HEAVEN by Reina Hardy.

    Produced ALL OF THE EVERYTHING, by Alayna Jacqueline, at the 2019 Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Short Play Festival in New York City. Play was named finalist (1-12 out of 1500+).

  • 2020

    Move of our new artistic home to 255 South Water Street – sharing the venue with Next Act Theatre.