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In Arts & Entertainment

Theater attendance is down and typically draws older crowds. Art Milwaukee wants to change that.

Local theater companies vie for younger audiences

The experience of live theater is a unique one, unmatched for intimacy and enjoyment, but theater companies throughout the country are struggling to find a way to bring younger audiences to their plays.

After all, in survey after survey, support for the arts is seen as one of the criteria making a city an exciting and vibrant place to live, work and locate a business. That means creating an environment where young people are active participants in the arts.

For some reason, live theater is seen as an attraction for older people. It is not on the entertainment radar screen of many young professionals. The next generation of theater-goers has not yet been activated.

Into that breach comes Art Milwaukee, an organization dedicated to promoting the exciting art scene in Milwaukee to those who may not have experienced the options available.

Art Milwaukee is partnering with a number of theater companies to stage "Interact." It's a unique one-night event that will take place at the Plankinton Arcade building of The Shops Of Grand Avenue, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave. on Friday, Feb. 8 from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $10 presale/students, or $15 day of the event.

Interact will include live music, art, cash bar and selections from David Ives' "All in the Timing" from six Milwaukee-based theater companies: The Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Skylight Music Theatre, Renaissance Theatreworks, Pink Banana Theatre Co., World's Stage Theatre Co. and The Quasimondo Theatre Company.

"Interact aims to bring increased exposure to the theater community at large, especially to the young professionals demographic." said Jeremy Fojut, President of Art Milwaukee. "It's a great way to connect the community with theater and the performing arts"

The event will coincide with the re-dedication of the John Plankinton statue located in the rotunda of the Plankinton Building in the Shops of Grand Avenue, who is also sponsoring the event.

Art Milwaukee joined forces with local event producer Matt Kemple to put on the event. "We had been looking for a project to work on together that was theater-based," said Kemple. "The rotunda in the Plankinton Building is a beautiful setting for an event like this, and the timing worked out perfectly for the rededication of the statue. "

Audiences will be able to see each theater company perform a different one-act play from the prolific Ives. He is an enormously funny playwright and his works have been performed for years both on Broadway and around the country.

Each one-act will be performed independently in different rooms, giving audiences the ability to see the short plays in any order they choose during the evenings activities. The one-acts will be performed multiple times throughout the evening and range from 10 to 20 minutes each in length.

Jennifer Rupp is one of the founders of Renaissance Theatreworks and understands, perhaps better than most, the connection be theater and the atmosphere in a community.

"Storytelling is primal," she said. "It's part of what makes us human. It's common to all cultures throughout all time. Today's theater is our contemporary storytelling medium. It is exciting, comforting and absolutely familiar to sit in the dark among a large group of people and listen to the telling of a great story."

Advance tickets and more information are available at


Photodavie | Feb. 4, 2013 at 9:55 a.m. (report)

What a better way to reach out to youth than to hold an event at the Grand Ave, a place where most people under the age of 40 have never been to nor want to go to. This event will flop. To reach out to youth, theatre has to be more affordable (REP tickets run $60/show). In addition, plays must be more relevent and reach out to todays generation. 20 year olds don't want to see the Diary of Anne Frank, they want to see the Hunger Games. It's sad, but true. If you want them to see plays, give them someting that interests them at a price they can afford.

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