Madison, Milwaukee, and Fish Creek – Four years in the making, after extensive planning and collaboration amongst a team of noted Wisconsin theater professionals, World Premiere Wisconsin (WPW) is proud to announce its inaugural festival comes to Wisconsin this spring. The theater festival will run March 1 – June 30, 2023 throughout the state – from the tip of Door County to the state line and across 20 distinct zip codes. The new works created for World Premiere Wisconsin by nearly 50 participating theaters will explore, illuminate, and celebrate the vastness of Wisconsin’s story, culture, and the many people who make up this great state. The comprehensive WPW line-up boldly says: “this is Wisconsin, and as theater makers and patrons, we take great pride in that.” World Premiere Wisconsin is Proudly Presented by Ten Chimneys Foundation.
Great theater and the development of new plays are not new to Wisconsin – there is a long history of such work in this state. However, WPW now provides a platform for Wisconsin to be recognized for its exceptional work and contributions to American theater with this first-of-its-kind collaboration – both statewide and nationally.
When asked why she thought a theater festival like this was needed now, WPW Founder Jen Uphoff Gray commented: “World Premiere Wisconsin was born out of my desire to celebrate the incredible theater makers in our state. I hoped that bringing us all together towards a common purpose could build new relationships, attract attention (both statewide and around the country) for our work, and generate enthusiasm for the exciting new plays and musicals being created here. We are already seeing these goals come to fruition, and I could not be prouder of what we have already accomplished together.
“Theatergoers will have an extraordinary opportunity this spring to be the first to see scores of new works without having to travel far and to know that by showing up, they are contributing to the creation of this art. Live audiences are a crucial ingredient in the development of plays and musicals, and Wisconsin’s audiences will help us launch all these stories out into the world!”
WPW Festival Producer Michael Cotey added: “WPW is a big, bold idea not just for Wisconsin but for all theaters. Theaters across the country are struggling. By taking such a big swing with this festival, we hope to set an example of what’s possible in the spirit of collaboration and inspire others with the work we’ve done to rally theaters together in their state. But we’ll still be able to say we did it first, and as someone born and raised in Wisconsin, I’m very proud of that.”
In December, World Premiere Wisconsin was awarded the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant at its full amount of $39,550, which will increase the festival’s ability to reach more people across the state through print and online media.
WORLD PREMIERE WISCONSIN 2023 FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
Festival Theater Productions:
At the core of WPW are 248 performances across 11 full productions by Wisconsin’s leading professional theaters in three regions (Madison, Milwaukee, Door County), including…
THE HEART SELLERS by Lloyd Suh at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, February 7 – March 19, 2023
HOOPS by Eliana Pipes with original music by B-Free adapted from the Hoops Portrait Project by Nicole Acosta at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, March 10 – April 2, 2023
TIDY by Kristin Idaszak at Renaissance Theaterworks, March 24 – April 16, 2023
THE GRACIOUS SISTERS by Alice Austen at First Stage, May 5 – 21, 2023
GOD’S SPIES by Bill Cain at Next Act Theatre, April 27 – May 21, 2023
TBA at Skylight Music Theatre, May 19 – June 11, 2023
SHINING IN MISERY: A KING-SIZED PARODY book by Colleen DuVall, music by Andrew Abrams, and lyrics by Mark-Eugene Garcia at Capital City Theatre, February 23 – March 5, 2023
ARTEMISIA by Lauren Gunderson at Forward Theater Company, April 13 – 30, 2023
I CARRY YOUR HEART WITH ME by Jennifer Blackmer at Third Avenue Playworks, May 10 – 29, 2023.
A ROCK SAILS BY by Sean Grennan, at Peninsula Players, June 13 – July 2, 2023.
THE FISH WHISPERER book by Scott Guy and Robin Share, music by Dan Wessels and Ron Barnette at Northern Sky Theater, June 14 – August 25, 2023.
World Premiere Wisconsin will also unfold throughout the state thanks to 40 additional professional, community, and academic theater companies staging full productions, readings, and workshops of new work in more than 20 communities.
Current lineup of all productions:
Current full festival participant list:
WPW Festival Schedule
Please refer to the website for additions and any updates to the full WPW festival schedule. Listings are subject to change. For specific production updates, please refer to the producing theater’s website for the most up-to-date information, including runtimes and how to purchase tickets.
Please contact the individual theaters to request reviewer/media tickets and to inquire about their comp ticket policies and procedures.
For WPW logos, headshots, and other visual assets, please go to: worldpremierewisconsin.com/media-kit/