Announcing The Milwaukee Fringe Festival

Announcing The Milwaukee Fringe Festival

New annual arts event will feature top performing and visual arts

MILWAUKEE, WIS – The Milwaukee Fringe Festival, the regions newest city-wide art festival is a two-day performance and visual art event celebrating Milwaukee’s vibrant and diverse arts scene. The inaugural event will take place Saturday, August 27th and Sunday, August 28th Downtown, Milwaukee at Pere Marquette Park, The Marcus Center Vogal Hall and surrounding venues.

The Milwaukee Fringe Festival will showcase live theatre, music, dance, comedy and visual art from the region along side keynote speakers and national performers with a connection to the Greater Milwaukee area. In addition, MKE Fringe Fest will also feature some of the areas best food trucks, breweries and other culinary delights.

“Milwaukee’s art scene is as diverse and prolific as any in the nation. The Milwaukee Fringe Festival is an event to celebrate that diversity on a wide scale.” Said festival Co-Founder Eric Engelbart. “We want this festival to be an immersive experience that features extraordinary entertainment from the many Milwaukee and Wisconsin based arts groups.”

The event will feature free outdoor performances in Pere Marquette Park and along the Milwaukee River, as well as ticketed indoor performances at some of Milwaukee’s best theater venues. The MKE Fringe Fest will focus on accessibility to the citizens of Milwaukee by offering free or inexpensive live performances in the center of the city.

Matt Kemple, Co-Founder of the MKE Fringe Festival stated, “Our goal is to expose audiences to talented performers they may not discover on their own, while also celebrating established artists who got their start in Milwaukee. There is a high level of talent here in Brew City and we want to acknowledge that talent with a celebration of the arts.”

The Milwaukee Fringe Festival is presented under the direction of renowned television and film actor Willem Dafoe, John Schneider (Theatre Professor at Marquette University), Eric Engelbart (Shepherd Express) Matt Kemple (Milwaukee Comedy Festival), Karen Rayzak and Katie Rhyme (MKE Follies) and Brian Rott (Quazimondo Physical Theatre). The festival is produced under Nice Plays, Inc a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

A call for submissions is announced for creative artists of all kinds to submit to perform or display. Those interested may do so as of March 1, 2016 via the Milwaukee Fringe Festival website, Submission fee: $20 or Early Bird is $15.

The Inaugural Milwaukee Fringe Festival
August 27 and 28, 2016
Pere Marquette Parke and surrounding venues in Downtown Milwaukee.

Matt Talks with Mark Metcalf!

I sat down with actor Mark Metcalf (Animal House, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Seinfeld… yes, the Maestro himself!), but the best part was he was interviewing ME about the start of The Underground Collaborative, the Milwaukee Comedy Festival and other things.

Despite that busy schedule, Matt took a bit of time out of his day to pop upstairs for a visit at the Third Coast Daily offices, where he sat down with Mark. While he was here, he talked to us about the growth of Milwaukee’s comedy scene, the different styles of comedy on the rise in the city and what’s coming up during this hectic weekend at the Collaborative.

Check out the interview here.

Welcome to The UC!

Milwaukee Creatives Energize Grand Ave.

Arts groups collaborate to lease space in Shops of Grand Avenue

MILWAUKEE, WI –Three creative and established arts groups: Milwaukee Comedy, Inc., home to the annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival, along with Pink Banana Theatre Co., providing new opportunities in theatre, and Studio Kristelle an open artist studio, officially announce a new office/rehearsal/studio space in the Shops of Grand Avenue as part of the Creativity Works Here program.

Approximately 10,000 square feet on the lower level of the Plankington building will host the three creative ventures. Each organization will operate independently of one another, but will share spaces and resources including marketing, box office services, etc. “Working together just made sense, economically and creatively.” Said Matt Kemple, founder of Milwaukee Comedy Inc., and Artistic Producer of Pink Banana Theatre Co. “Each company has different strengths that can be utilized in unique ways.”

The three companies will each offer different workshops, space rental and artistic undertakings along with administrative offices. Milwaukee Comedy and Pink Banana Theatre will both offer rehearsal space and small performances. Studio Kristelle will focus on music, dance, writing and art and allow the public the opportunity to stop in and visit her studio and observe art in progress.

Businesses including Art Milwaukee and Spreenkler Talent Labs currently occupy spaces in the Grand Avenue through the Creativity Works Here program, an effort to attract artists, creative companies and entrepreneurs. The model was developed by management firm Jones Lang LaSalle, at a mall in St. Louis, MO


Milwaukee Comedy, Inc., founded in 2008 as the parent organization of the annual Milwaukee Comedy Festival, provides educational advancement, resources, performance opportunities and public entertainment in order to strengthen the community through laughter and positive forms of expression. Operations have expanded in 2012 to sponsor and produce local comedy events, offer comedy-related workshops and enhance its promotion of the local comedy community.

Pink Banana Theatre Co., founded in 2004, was created to provide professional opportunities to emerging artists. The company offers a refreshing alternative to the more traditional shows often seen in the Milwaukee theatre world.

Studio Kristelle began in 1990 as a small graphics arts business designing logos for Native American entrepreneurs. Today, Studio Kristelle aims to provide an accessible multi-creative environment for Artists who need a place to share their creative talents with the community and a place for the community to enjoy exploring their creative self with passionate Artists.


Milwaukee Theatre Unconference

There is a pretty cool event coming up that I am excited to be a part of: The Milwaukee Theatre Unconference.  What’s an unconference? An “unconference” brings like-minded people together to discuss topics they want to learn about, teach, and are otherwise passionate about. It’s going to be an exciting learning experience for everyone involved, whether seasoned theatre professionals or just lovers of the art.

Here are some details from the web:

The Milwaukee Theatre Unconference is geared toward getting the theatre community here together and asks the broad questions of “Where are we now?” & “Where can we go?”

All we ask is for people to bring their questions, ideas, open minds, experience and knowledge!

  • Food will be provided
  • rooms and time slots assigned different general topics.
  • Sessions are brainstormed ahead of time or can spring out from ideas during the day of the event.

Check out the Facebook event here:


Tape by Stephen Belber

Now here is a project I have been looking forward to for a very long time: Tape by StephenBelber.

The play’s focus is controversial, intense, violent, and very exciting!  I’ll be playing Vince, a bad‐tempered, drug-dealing volunteer fireman – a very different character from anything I’ve played before.

Another aspect of this show is the unique, site-specific setting. Tape takes place in a hotel room, and Pink Banana Theatre has teamed up with the Best Western Inn Towne Hotel to produce the show in a room of the hotel.

The show is already intense, and having only 12 seats inside a small 12 x 15 ft. room, will definitely increase what the audience is feeling, to say the least!

Here’s some info from

Tape, set entirely in a hotel room in Milwaukee, brings together old high school friends Vince, a bad‐tempered volunteer fireman, and Jon, an up-and-coming filmmaker. After reminiscing over old times, the conversation – and their friendship – turn nasty.

Tape, By Stephen Belber
November 8 – 21, 2010
at the Best Western Inn Towne Hotel, Downtown Milwaukee
Reservations only; seating is extremely limited!

Directed by Juanita Schuelke and Fjosh Redbeard
Featuring Rob Maass, Matt Kemple and Gwen Zupan

We began rehearsals a few weeks ago, and the show is really coming together.  It’s a great script, and Stephen Belber’s writing is deep and profound – a real “actors play”.  There are so many levels of power and corruption that seep into the characters of Vince and Jon, it has truly been a joy to work on this show.