The First National Veterans Theater Festival

Feast of Crispian and Milwaukee Repertory Theater present:

“Acts of Engagement”
5 plays, 4 days - Memorial Day weekend, May 23-26, 2019
Stiemke Studio Theater


These veteran acted, veteran stories offer a wide range of experience from intimate and personal to world view that cross gender, race and conflicts. The companies hail from New York, North Carolina, Florida, Texas and of course, Wisconsin.

Civilian audiences will find these performances powerfully moving, deeply affecting. We will explore the consequences of war that our families, neighbors, and fellow citizens must grapple with in our name. Suffering knows nothing of Red nor Blue.

Both FoC and The Telling project use theater to help veterans who, for the most part, have no acting experience express their personal stories. Stephan Wolfert, The Combat Hippies, and The Color of Courage are professional performers.

Feast of Crispian and The Milwaukee Rep are grateful
for the support of our generous sponsors. Full list here


We welcome the following veteran productions:

And Comes Safe Home

Thursday, May 23, 2019

7:30 PM-9:00 PM

Stiemke Studio, 108 East Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (map)


Presented by Feast of Crispian

A Production of The First National Veterans Theater Festival
Approximately 90 minutes; audience talkback followed

The heart of this piece is the exploration and communication of veteran’s personal stories through both their own words and the words of Shakespeare’s plays accompanied by live music from military veteran and singer-songwriter Jason Moon accompanied by Frogwater. Written by Feast of Crispian.

"And Comes Safe Home" takes Feast of Crispian’s productions to a whole new level. ACSH is beautifully and thoughtfully crafted and delivered with an exquisite sense of insight and growth. With each new FoC production, I almost feel as if I'm journeying along with the individual veterans that I've gotten so familiar with. It's exciting to see how far they've come and where they're going. Kudos!"
~ Susan Scot Fry, Executive Director, Optimist Theatre - Shakespeare in the Park

 Color of Courage

Friday, May 24, 2019

7:30 PM  8:15 PM

Stiemke Studio, 108 East Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202  (map)


Presented by Mitchell Capel and Sonny Kelly

A Production of The First National Veterans Theater Festival
Approximately 75 minutes; audience talkback following

Approximately 180,000 African Americans, comprising 163 units served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Mitchell Capel and Sonny Kelly are “a force to be reckoned with” as they bring to life a fraction of the untold stories of the hundreds of thousands of unsung heroes...heroes whose glory and honor have remained unspoken for entirely too long. With its powerfully poetic embodiment of these rare stories, framed by a multi-media presentation, this experience leaves audiences breathlessly enlightened and ultimately encouraged.

“I defy anyone not to be moved by these soldiers, black or white. These two are a FORCE!”
~ Bo Thorp, Founding AD, Cape Fear Regional Theatre

She Went to War

Saturday, May 25, 2019

2:00 PM to 3:05 PM

Stiemke Studio (map)


 Presented by The Telling Project

A Production of The First National Veterans Theater Festival
Approximately 55 minutes; audience talkback following

In March 2017, She Went to War opened at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. She Went to War  is new work by The Telling Project, an autobiographical performance by four female veterans, all of whom, in widely varying capacities, experienced significant combat exposure during their terms in the military. Their stories speak to and for many, many more women whose roles put them in the line of fire. SWTW will be an opportunity for the American public to understand and acknowledge the distinctive and important roles women have played on the battlefield.

“She Went to War has no ideology but a clear-eyed sense of purpose: that of educating civilians about the experience of women in combat zones.”
~ Eric Ringham, MPR News


Saturday, May 25, 2019

7:30 PM to  8:45 PM

Stiemke Studio, 108 East Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI  (map)


Presented by The Combat Hippies

A Production of The First National Veterans Theater Festival
Approximately 70 minutes; audience talkback following

Amal, “hope” in Arabic, is a theater/spoken word piece written and performed by the Combat Hippies, an ensemble of Puerto Rican veterans of the Iraq War, and was developed and directed by award winning theater artist Teo Castellanos. It delves into the impact of war on both combatants and noncombatants as people of color, shares experiences of veteran’s adjustment to life after war, as well as that of refugees and asylum seekers from war-torn countries. The piece will be influenced by an aesthetic we are calling “Afro Rican Punk.”

... “Amal” really resonates with a unique neo-urban-intelligent tone, rhythm and flow. The soundtrack is dope, as is the choreography and synergy between Torres and Arriaga.
~ J.J. Colagrande, The Jitney

 De-Cruit: Cry Havoc

Sunday, May 26, 2019

2:00 PM  to 3:15 PM

Stiemke Studio, 108 East Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI  (map)


Performed by Stephan Wolfert

The final event of The First National Veterans Theater Festival
Approximately 75 minutes; audience talkback following

Using Shakespeare’s timeless words, and a few of his own, actor/veteran Stephan Wolfert leads us on an interactive journey to meet Shakespeare’s veterans. He also brings us face to face with one of the most vexing military – and civilian – problems of our time.

Men and women are tested and trained before entering the military. While serving in the military, they continue to be tested and trained to ensure “combat readiness”. But there’s no “off switch”. After years of testing and training to maintain combat readiness, there is no testing and training to leave military service and rejoin the civilian world. Shakespeare had something to say about that. He wrote about the relationships between veterans, politicians and civilians. He wrote about how these relationships can either prevent or create havoc.

De-Cruit: Cry Havoc unites veterans with civilians. It shows us that the military men and women of Shakespeare’s time wrestled with the same hopes and worries that occupy our modern lives. It explores the difficulties that our veterans and their families face. And maybe, just maybe, it will help them truly come home.

" ...with the rhythm of a fireworks finale - it builds and explodes and builds and explodes - we realize the show is also about history, drama, justice and mental health."
~ Wei-Huan Chen, Houston Chronicle