Our Story

Theatre means many different things to different people: an exciting story, a rollicking comedy, love won and lost and won again, lavish scenery, beautiful costumes, a black box, great acting, Shakespeare, not Shakespeare, acrobatics, abstract movement, sword fights, songs, dance – dogs onstage!

But there is one essential element that makes for good theatre which, we think, we can all agree upon: at some point, it gets personal. Stories work best when they involve individuals in the midst of a struggle, or a quest. We identify, person-to-person. We invest. We accept their quest as ours. Their struggle, tragedy or triumph is ours to endure, to mourn or to celebrate. And thus, we are moved, and the theatre has proven itself, again, as essential to the care and feeding of our human spirit.


Next Act Theatre engages the hearts and minds of audiences with intimate, compelling productions intended to stimulate thought, foster the exchange of ideas, and promote the development of new perspectives and understanding.

The mission is defined by four specific and interrelated goals:

  • Next Act produces dramatic material that brings social, cultural and political issues to the center of the community debate, reflecting the universal needs and aspirations of our fellow human beings.
  • Next Act nurtures and collaborates with the best of local, professional talent.
  • Through strategic play selection, community outreach activities, and accessible artistic style and management, Next Act works to develop new audiences.
  • Next Act establishes and maintains familiar, appreciative relationships with patrons and donors through service-oriented administrative practices and proactive staff interaction.


Formed in 1990 by a merger of its predecessor companies, Theatre Tesseract and Next Generation Theatre, Next Act continues its tradition of creating high-quality, professional theatre in Milwaukee. The past 28 seasons have earned the company its strong reputation for producing engaging work that feels intimate, powerful and personal. The plays presented are passionate, often bold, sometimes humorous, and always up-close-and-personal presentations of life.

A strong, vibrant and financially stable company, Next Act produces a four-show season of contemporary drama. The company is particularly noted for its acting excellence, accessible performance style, and for a varied and consistently interesting selection of plays, chosen from the best new works and off-Broadway hits. Next Act has mounted more than 100 main stage productions, most of them being area premieres, and six original scripts.

Our Audience

Next Act performs for a growing subscriber base of over 1,200 and a single ticket community of over 4,500, attracting individuals and groups from Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Our audiences express a consistent and positive appreciation for the intimacy of our performance style and accessibility.

Next Act Theatre is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization.

FY18 Audit
FY18 Form 990
History Document