Theatre for Teens – Next Act Theatre

Theatre for Teens

2020 update: Due to continued health and safety concerns with gathering in person due to the presence of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, we didn’t feel safe or responsible scheduling an in-person summer session with our Next Actors students. With the supportive and enthusiastic feedback from our alumni, we have created an online summer program focused on the playwriting process – free for any high school student or Next Actor alumni to join.

Next Actors: Summer Theatre for Teens emboldens passionate high school students in Milwaukee and surrounding areas to recognize their value and connect artistically to their community.

Next Actors provides a structure for teens to create a student-written performance that is then toured* throughout the metro area. With the guidance of professional arts and community leaders, students gain self-awareness and confidence while learning to trust, respect, and collaborate with each other to create their own original work of performance art.

*The final student-created product in 2020 will be made available online in August.

The 2020 Next Actors program will take place online June 29 – July 31, 2020. The Benefit Performance will be Saturday, August 1, at 4:30 pm. 

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Q: How much does it cost?

Next Actors is a free program. It only costs your time and dedication.


Q: How do I get in?

While Next Actors has traditionally been an audition-based program, due to social distancing measures we’re adjusting the acceptance process. If you would like to be a member of the Next Actors: Online 2020 summer program, please answer the following questions in either a video, an e-mail, or a phone call.

Question 1: What would you bring to the program? (Any special skills, any particular passions, what is it about you that makes other people want to work with you?)

Question 2: What do you want out of the program? (Why do you want to be part of the Next Actors?)

Question 3: Tell us about ANY previous collaborative, creative experience. (Experience in theater-specific activities not required. Let us know about what you like to do with other people!)

Send your answers to NextActors@gmail.com or leave a message for education manager Grace DeWolff at 414.278.7780


Q: What skills are you looking for?

Where most audition scenarios are seeking raw talent, the Next Actors program seeks out brave, active learners who take charge of their own education and want their voice to be heard. You do not have to have Broadway skills. You DO need dedication, passion, critical thinking skills, and a willingness to work with peers.


Q: Where does the program meet?

Traditionally, Next Actors has gathered in Next Act Theatre’s professional rehearsal space located at  255 South Water Street, Milwaukee, WI 53204. For the summer of 2020, Next Actors will be made available online to all interested high school students and past alumni. For more information, email NextActors@gmail.com


Q: What is the summer time commitment?

The Next Actors: Online 2020 program will involve:

Weekly video chats: We will check in, showcase our work, play theater games (there are some that work over video chat!) and discuss topics of the week. Chats will be once a week and no longer than 2 hours. 

Weekly assignments: Writing assignments will be some individual tasks that are then brought to a group of peers for review and collaboration. 

Daily routine: As there won’t be any official daily meeting times (only a weekly video chat), the daily routine will be up to individual students. Resources for building this routine will be made available. 
As the time commitment for the summer of 2020 isn’t as regimented as a 9:00am – 3:00pm daily in-person class, it is up to students to register for the class and commit fully to all video chats and self-directed work. This isn’t a “drop in” course, this is a commitment to weeks of building and drafting collaborative work.


Q: What’s in it for me?

As a Next Actor, you will improvise, write, explore, devise, and co-create a performance with teens from places in and around Milwaukee. Together, you will perform a piece of theater that is meaningful to you – empowering your voice within your community. The Next Actors summer program is an opportunity to recognize your value, step outside your comfort zone, meet new peers, and let Milwaukee audiences know what’s important to you.

Especially important for Next Actors: Online 2020:

Self-directed work: Our Next Actor students, more often than not, find the program themselves through a school workshop, register themselves for an audition, prepare their audition pieces themselves, get themselves to class daily, and even take it upon themselves to find times to collaborate with each other online when they’re not in class. Moving the program online won’t be a problem for this kind of motivated student!

Community: The Next Actors are a supportive group of students willing to be creatively brave, showcase first drafts, and respectfully give constructive feedback. They allow their peers the freedom to be themselves, support bold artistic risks, encourage and motivate each other, and lend helpful constructive criticism when appropriate. 

Accountability: Your classmates will depend on you to get work done. There are no grades, there is no principal’s office. This is what it means to be a part of a community of artists – in the theater, actors have to memorize their lines and blocking, designers have to have a clearly stated vision, ticket office managers and administrative staff all have important jobs to do before opening night. During the Next Actors summer, other artists your age are counting on you to create and share! 

Creation: As artists, output is what’s important. It takes at least one hundred bad poems to write a good one. We will be making things and sharing things – scenes, monologues, characters, poetry, essays, rants, drawings, songs, on paper and on camera – the quality of those things won’t matter as much as the process of making them. “Be bold! Fail mightily!”