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Community Conversations: ACT II
Community Engagement / Professional Training Institute / Enrichment Events / Community Partners / Mpact Council



Act II

Zeidler CenterSince 2016, The Rep’s Act II program has engaged over 7,000 audience members in in-depth small group discussions facilitated by the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion. Following every performance of one of the shows in our season, audiences get to hear a local community leader’s response to the issues raise in the play as they relate to Milwaukee. Then, you are invited to join small group discussions to talk more with your fellow audience members.

The Act II program started three seasons ago, during our world premiere of American Song, when The Rep partnered with the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion for the first time. After each of our 33 performances, we invited a broad range of community leaders to give a five-minute response to the show followed by small group facilitated discussions led by trained members of the Zeidler Center. More than 3,000 patrons took advantage of the opportunity to share, listen, and learn with a group of fellow audience members. This format created the space for mutual understanding and respect allowing for open and honest dialogue. Act II has been praised both locally and nationally, and was overwhelmingly successful at bringing diverse groups of people together for dialogue around community issues.

We continued Act II during Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced in the winter of 2017 with facilitated discussions after 70% of the performances with over 2,500 people participating. 

In 2018, Act II took place around The Rep’s production of Dael Orlandersmith’s Until The Flood. Each performance of Until The Flood featured a community responder followed by facilitated small group discussions once again led by the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion. Over 1,500 audience members participated, and 77% of participants felt motivated to take action in their communities following the rich discussions.

Every Brilliant Thing was be The Rep’s Act II production. Community responders and small groups lead vital conversations about mental health.

ACT II during the 2019/20 Season will focus on themes of race, gender, history, elitism, and academia found in The Niceties.

» Learn more about the ACT II post-show panels, TalkBacks, and facilitated group discussions surrounding The Niceties.


Zeidler Center Most performances of The Niceties will be followed by ACT II which includes, post show panels, TalksBacks and facilitated group discussions lead by the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion.

Each week of the production the post-performance activcities will focus on a different theme from the production.
Week of Oct 31 – Racism & Academia
Week of Oct 7 – Who Tells The Story of America
Week of Oct 14 – The Generation Divide
Week of Oct 21 – At The Intersection: Race, Gender & Identities
Week of Oct 28 – Access to Education & University Elitism

Click on the calendar below for a larger view.

ACT II Panels

October 11, Post-Show
ACT II Panel: Who Gets to Tell the Story of America?

Join us for a special panel discussion, "Who Gets to Tell the Story of America?". Panelists include:
• Taylor Barnes, Professional Training Institute ensemble member
• Amanda Seligman,  University of Milwaukee
• Emilio De Torre, ACLU Wisconsin
• Dr. James Marten Marquette University


October 18, Post-Show
ACT II Panel: The Generational Divide

Join us for a special panel discussion, "The Generational Divide". Panelists include:
• David Emmanuelle Castillo, Black and Latino Male Achievement, Milwaukee Public Schools
• Dynasty Caesar, YWCA Southeastern Wisconsin
• Darrin B. Madison Jr. Urban Ecology Center/Youth Justice Milwaukee
• Alea Cross, MIAD


October 25, Post-Show
ACT II Panel: At the Intersection: Race, Gender & Identities

Join us for a special panel discussion, "At the Intersection: Race, Gender & Identities". Panelists include:
• Elizabeth Hjelle, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
• Dawn Matlak, Public Allies Milwaukee
• Elle Hill, Public Allies Milwaukee
• Naya Jones, PhD, Medical College of Wisconsin
• Nanis Rodriguez, University of Milwaukee



The Milwaukee Rep frequently hosts a series of conversations on themes related to one or more plays from the season. 

The 2018/19 Season featured the Power & Money Series, spanning six plays across our entire season. With onsite and offsite panel discussions and roundtables, community dinners and workshops, and a public art project, we explored the relationship between power & money in our community.

In the 2016/17 Season, #TalkIdentity encompassed daily conversations for an entire month about identity around Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced. #TalkIdentity events included Act II post-show dialogues, panel discussions, Intercultural Dinners, Intercultural Talkbacks, actor talkbacks, a lobby exhibit, and a video series. Over 5,000 community members and civic leaders joined the conversation in person for this city-wide dialogue. 

In 2017/18, The Rep produced The Neighbor Series around our productions of One House Over, Until the Flood, and Our Town. With over 80 events engagement events in three months, as well as the inaugural national Intersections Summit, we invited thousands of people to discuss what it means to be a good neighbor – interpersonally, within your community, and nationally. 


Press & Features on Act II

Until The Flood

"Act II Programming Returns With 'Until The Flood' At Milwaukee Rep" – Broadway World

"As stunning as Orlandersmith's performance is - and it is - there is much to appreciate in her writing also." – OnMilwaukee

“Until The Flood” Begins Performances – Urban Milwaukee

"8 ways of looking at the pain of Ferguson in 'Until the Flood'" – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


American Song

“Beyond the Traditional Talkback: ‘Act II’ Adds Voices to ‘American Song’” American Theater Magazine

“'American Song’ creates lively debate” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Act II Community Conversations Teen Night Dialogue Report


“The Teen Council exec board was an amazing outlet for me to hone my leadership and theater management skills in high school. Coming into the Council, I had a strong background in theater and wanted a place to hang out with other passionate performers, but had never thought about the administrative side of theater. Anyone particularly interested in theater management won't find a better-suited pre-college opportunity in Milwaukee.”

“Teen Council has given me the opportunity to meet other teens who share my love of theatre, and to experience plays through unique Council events. It is really something special.”

“I am here to experience as much theatre as possible and because I want to do it professionally, I want to see every area possible that is available to someone in the business, and learn about it.”

“[Teen Council] was all a very positive experience the time that I've spent with it. It was great meeting new people and setting up fun events. I really found it cool how we'd get to see shows for a good price and even talk to some of the cast members! I'd definitely recommend it!”

“What Milwaukee Rep Teen Council did for me: it became like a springboard. I still have it on my resume and it really does help. I would have never been able to work at The Rep for a whole summer without it or be able to help out with the summer program. It has been such an amazing connection to have in Milwaukee and such a important part of my teen acting career I can't express how much it meant for me to be there. I also really think it showed me that there was more out there. My high school did not really teach me the skills or show me what else was out there college wise and Teen Council really helped with that.”

“Participating in Teen Council has broadened my view of future jobs I can partake in that surround theater, tuned me into more of what is going on in the theater community around me and helped me with leadership skills.”



Until The Flood: ACT II Video Coverage


Week 1 in Review

Week 2 in Review

Week 3 in Review

Week 4 in Review

Week 5 in Review

Week 6 in Review

Katherine Wilson, Executive Director, Zeidler Center for Public Discussion

Dr. Jeffrey Coleman, Asst. Professor of Spanish, Marquette University

Venice Williams, Executive Director, Alice’s Garden

David Muhammad, Violence Prevention Manager, City of Milwaukee

Sgt. Delmar Williams, Milwaukee Police Department

Paula Penebaker, President & CEO, YWCA Southeast Wisconsin

Nicole Brookshire, Director, Office on African American Affairs

Princess Beyers, Amani United Representative

Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, Senior Minister, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

Vincent Lyles, President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee

Fred Royal, President, NAACP Milwaukee Branch

Dasha Kelly, Founder & Artistic Director, Still Waters Collective

Reggie Jackson, Head Griot, America’s Black Holocaust Museum

Reggie Jackson, Head Griot, America’s Black Holocaust Museum

LaQuondra Shaw, Northwestern Mutual Foundation

Al Ruppel, Founder, Unity in Motion

Jeff Martinka, Executive Director, Neighborhood House of Milwaukee

Keith Stanley, Executive Director of Near West Side Partners

John Chisholm, Milwaukee County District Attorney

Sister Patricia Rogers, Executive Director, Dominican Center

Saleaqua Winston, Spoken Word Artist

LaTasha Hodge-Fields, Teacher, Milwaukee Public Schools

Senator Lena Taylor, Wisconsin State Senator, District 4

Pardeep Kaleka, Co-Founder, Serve2Unite

Dr. Cedric Burrows, Assistant Professor of English, Marquette University

Jordan Lee, Program Director, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Syd Robinson, LGBTQ Advocate, LGBT Community Center

Kiran Vedula (aka Q the Sun), Musician, Producer, and Youth Advocate

Dr. Patricia McManus, President & CEO, Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin

Christopher Flowers, Attorney, Godfrey & Kahn

Chief Judge Maxine White, Chief Judge, Milwaukee County Courts

Kennedy Hughes, True Skool Representative

Camille Davis, Office/Grants Manager, Zilber Family Foundation

Katie Sanders, Executive Director, Safe & Sound

Dr. Darienne Driver, MPS Superintendent

Dr. Juan Baez, Co-Director, MPS Dept of Black and Latino Male Achievement

Dr. Kathleen Coffey-Guenther, Assoc. VP Office of Mission and Ministry, Marquette U.

Jendora Kelley, Community Culture Leader, Carmen High School

Sharon Adams, Co-Founder, Walnut Way

Vaun Mayes, Founder, Program the Parks

James Phelps, President, JCP Construction

Sharon McGowan & Adam Carr, Neighborhood News Service

Wanda Montgomery, President, Black Child Development Institute Milwaukee...

Michael Hostad, Executive Director, Innovation in Milwaukee

Nate Hamilton, Co-Founder, The Coalition For Justice

Erik Ljung, Filmmaker of “The Blood is at the Doorstep”

Angie Trudell Vasquez, Writer, Poet, and Activist

Dr. Monique Liston, Founder, Ubuntu Research and Evaluation

* Milwaukee Rep has invited experts from a wide variety of fields which represent diverse viewpoints. The views and opinions expressed by the community responder do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Milwaukee Repertory Theater.


American Song: ACT II Video Coverage


Week 1 in Review

Week 2 in Review

Week 3 in Review

Week 4 in Review

Pastor Alexis Twito
Coordinator of Police Chaplaincy Program, Milwaukee

Danae Davis
Executive Director, Milwaukee Succeeds

Rahul Dubey
Information Security Analyst, Rockwell Automation

Dr. Darienne Driver
Superintendent, Milwaukee Public Schools

Nik Clark
Chairman & President, Wisconsin Carry Inc.

Sheriff David Mahoney
Dane County

Mayor Stephen Scaffidi
Oak Creek

Magda G. Peck, ScD
Founding Dean, Joseph J. Zilber SPH

Lonnae Hickman
Milwaukee Rep Teen Council Representative

Paula Penebaker
President & CEO, YWCA SE Wisconsin

Deanna Tillisch
President & CEO, United Performing Arts Fund

Jeri Bonavia
Executive Director & Founder,
Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort

Amardeep Kaleka
Filmmaker; son of former Oak Creek
Sikh Temple President Satwant Kaleka

Chris Larson
Wisconsin State Senator

Dr. Jon Berlin
Psychiatrist and Former Medical Director
of Milwaukee County’s Crisis Service

Stephen Hargarten, MD
Professor & Chair,
Medical College of Wisconsin

Susan Dreyfus
President and CEO,
Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

Marcus White
Vice President of Civic Engagement,
Greater Milwaukee Foundation

Justice Janine Geske
former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice

Deanna Singh
CEO, Burke Foundation;
Sikh American Legal Defense
and Education Fund Speakers Bureau Member

Hannah Rosenthal
President & CEO,
Milwaukee Jewish Federation

Attorney Patrick Dunphy
Chief attorney for the plaintiffs
in the Badger Guns negligence suit

James Causey
Editorial writer and columnist,
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Charles Kahn
Former Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge;
Founder, A Neutral View

Sergeant Al Groszczyk
Milwaukee Police Department

Jordan Lee
Program Director, 88.9

Eric Von
Radio Host, WNOV

Dan Bird
Psychotherapist, Alliance Counseling Center;
Board Member, Kubly Foundation

Charlie Sykes
Radio Host at WTMJ

Kalan Haywood
Founder and President, Vangard Group

Maxine A. White
Chief Judge, First Judicial District, WI

Mayor Tom Barrett
City of Milwaukee

* Milwaukee Rep has invited experts from a wide variety of fields which represent diverse viewpoints. The views and opinions expressed by the community responder do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Milwaukee Repertory Theater.


Every Brilliant Thing: ACT II Video Coverage

We invite you to view the talk from our guests responders as part of The Rep’s production of Every Brilliant Thing.

Week 1 — April 12-21


Week 2 — April 24-28


Week 3 — April 30-May 5