Amplify - First Stage's BIPOC Play Series

Amplify Reading Series

In support of First Stage’s ongoing commitment to the development of new work, with an intentional focus on lifting voices of diverse playwrights and artists, this season’s Amplify Series will be presented as readings of three new plays, held at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.

A talkback will follow each reading, allowing audiences opportunities to share their voices with the playwright and artists – helping shape the development of  the plays and potential future productions at First Stage.

The 2023/2024 Season will feature BIG CITY HARMONY, ESPERANZA RISING, and EMILY SONG AND THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT*.

These new play readings will be Pay What You Choose eventsDoors will open approximately one hour prior to each reading. A minimum suggested ticket price is $10, but you may pay any amount you choose. Patrons are encouraged to arrive early, and may pre-order tickets by phone at (414) 267-2961. Learn more.

*Titles are subject to change pending availability of rights.

Big City Harmony

Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 7PM

Big City Harmony
By Ty Defoe
Directed by Johamy Morales
Located at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center

Harmony, a young Anishinaabe girl, moves from the reservation to the big city with her family, learning valuable lessons in her own culture as she navigates adventures while trying to make friends at a new school. Taking place in the future, Harmony shares the ability to shapeshift with her Grandmother Hazel and learns to speak the language of wolves aiming to release her own voice into the wild!

Suggested for adults, teens and children ages 7-9 and 10-12.

Esperanza Rising

Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 7PM

Esperanza Rising
Adapted by Alvaro Saar Rios
From the book by Pam Muñoz Ryan
With original music by Dinorah Marquez
Directed by Michelle Lopez-Rios
Located at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center

First Stage Playwright in Residence Alvaro Saar Rios, with frequent collaborator and composer Dinorah Marquez, combine their talents to bring a new fast-paced theatrical version of the powerful story to the stage, underscored with original music.

Two young storytellers, with the help of an ensemble of actors, take the stage and begin to weave the tale of Esperanza - a wealthy Mexican girl whose privileged existence is shattered when tragedy strikes, and she and her mother must flee to California. Forced to work in a migrant labor camp, Esperanza must learn to rise above her difficult circumstances and discover what she's truly made of. Set in the turbulent 1930s, and based on the popular book by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising is a poetic tale of a young girl's triumph over adversity.

Suggested for adults, teens and children ages 7-9 and 10-12.

Emily Song and the Queen of the Night

Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at 7PM

Emily Song and the Queen of the Night
By Playwright and Composer Marcus Yi
Directed by Michelle LoRicco
Located at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center

Since her mother's death, Emily Song's home has always been a musical vacuum. Her father banned music from their lives for as long as she can remember. But that doesn't stop Emily from secretly taking singing lessons online. On her 12th birthday, Emily's powers manifest and she discovers she is a music mage: a sorcerer who can cast magical spells through music. When her father is kidnapped by a mysterious entity known as the Queen of Shadows, Emily must figure out how to use her newly discovered talent to save her dad, and New York City from total destruction.

Suggested for adults, teens and children ages 7-9 and 10-12.

This reading is part of the TYA BIPOC Superhero Project, a new initiative led by playwright and educator José Casas, designed to give playwrights of color more access to mainstream/regional Theatre for Young Audiences/USA (TYA/USA) theatres. In an effort the TYA/USA is calling the largest and most comprehensive partnership of theatres ever undertaken in the field, 20 playwrights of color will be commissioned by 24 theatres to develop their work in a one-week residency. All the commissioned works will feature stories of BIPOC superheroes, and the project will culminate in a year-long celebration with productions, co-productions, and a published anthology of all the plays. First Stage is honored to serve as a commissioning theater and overjoyed to be working with playwright/composer Marcus Yi.

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