By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jan 19, 2005 at 5:17 AM

{image1} As a proud owner of a "Don't F*ck with Wisconsin" T-shirt, I was more than thrilled when I heard that the brains behind the politically infused local clothing line had written a play. Although not his first dabble into theater, Ben Turk's latest project, "Bring the War Home," is as wonderfully controversial as you'd expect someone whose other T-shirts encourage others to "Just Say No to God" and "Mess with Texas."

His partner in creative rebellion, Tracy Doyle, is doing her part as the director of the play to help find political activism a niche in Milwaukee. Apparently, it's working. Opening weekend at the Astor Theatre, which is the newly revamped theater on the first floor of the Brady Street Pharmacy, proved to be a success as both showings were filled to max capacity.

You can't buy advance tickets, so to avoid running down Brady Street in the harsh freeze of a Saturday night as the church bells strike 8 o'clock only to be denied by a "sold out" sign on the door (as I was), I recommend getting there early. There are performances scheduled for Jan. 21-23 and Jan. 28-30. All shows start promptly at 8 p.m., and no stragglers will be admitted. What's especially cool about the vehicle of local and independent theater is your accessibility, as the audience, to the artists. In fact, they really want to talk with you. Each show is followed by a discussion session where they take questions and comments from everyone as a means to creating a forum for change. They admit they don't have all the answers, but encouraging the community to collaborate and share ideas is their invitation for progress. Visit for more info.

Obviously, it isn't for everyone. But you certainly don't have to be a political activist to enjoy this play. You just have to be interested in what they have to say.

Maybe you've placed your politics on the back burner for now in lieu of the crisis in Southeast Asia. This Saturday and Sunday the Miramar Theatre is hosting a fund-raising event thats karmic retribution is matched only by its entertainment value. The Tsunami Relief Concerts are two nights of music from over 10 bands who are volunteering their time to help raise money to support the victims of the disaster. Friday night is the "rockers relief" featuring Binki Tunny & the Farmland Chokehold, Dropmore Scarlet, Koala, Eric Blowtorch and Marashino. Saturday night is the "acoustic relief" with Harvey Taylor and James Tony Finlayson, Fair Webber, The Moxie Chicks, John Calarco, Two of One, and Sandy Weisto & Friends. Music starts at 7 p.m. on both nights.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”