World Premiere Wisconsin: Announcing statewide theater festival

Madison, Milwaukee, and Fish Creek, WI – A coalition of Wisconsin theaters is proud to announce the inception of a statewide festival celebrating new plays and musicals. Called World Premiere Wisconsin (“WPW”), the festival will run from March 1 – June 30, 2023.

WPW was conceived in 2019 with three primary goals in mind: tobuild relationships between theater-makers across our state; to raise awareness nation-wide that Wisconsin has a thriving and diverse theater ecosystem, which includes the frequent creation of new work; and to encourage and facilitate the production of new plays, by providing marketing, fundraising and dramaturgical support to participating companies. An additional goal was added in light of the challenges posed by COVID-19: to communicate a positive story about Wisconsin’s theaters that will engage and excite statewide audiences during our recovery and rebuilding.

Lead Producers are Forward Theater Company (Madison), Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and Northern Sky Theater (Door County).

Festival Theaters are the professional companies throughout the state who have committed to mounting a full production of a world premiere work during the festival, and who have participated in organizing festival logistics and providing seed funds. (“Professional” is defined for these purposes as a company that operates under a season-long agreement with Actors’ Equity Association.) The Festival Theaters participate in decision-making. Festival Theaters to date include Capital City Theatre, Door Shakespeare, First Stage, Forward Theater Company, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Northern Sky Theater, Peninsula Players, Renaissance Theaterworks, Skylight Music Theatre, and Third Avenue PlayWorks.

Participating Theaters are any theater-making organizations (professional, semi-professional, community, and academic) who wish to participate by presenting a production, workshop, or reading of a world premiere work during the span of the festival dates.

In alignment with their mission to be a resource for the American theater, Genesee Depot’s Ten Chimneys Foundation is a key partner for World Premiere Wisconsin, assisting with planning, serving as fiscal receiver, and hosting events related to the Festival.

WPW hopes to welcome as many participants as possible, whether professional, semi-professional, community, or educational theater spaces throughout the state of Wisconsin. If organizations are interested in becoming Participating Theaters, they can learn more by visiting the new World Premiere Wisconsin website ( Updates about additional resources and opportunities for participating companies will be available on the WPW website. In addition, WPW is partnering with the National New Play Network (NNPN) to uplift new plays and support the artists participating in the festival. NNPN resources will be listed on the website soon, and will include New Play Exchange discounts, webinars, and more.

Any patrons, press, and participants may sign up via the WPW website to receive future newsletters and press releases.

The World Premiere Wisconsin Leadership Team includes Jen Uphoff Gray and Julie Swenson, Forward Theater Company; Deanie Vallone, Milwaukee Repertory Theater; and Molly Rhode, Northern Sky Theater; with Marcella Kearns, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, offering administrative support.

For more information on WPW, please contact [email protected] or visit