“What we always wanted most of all was the art.”
“The art” drove Suzan Fete to start a theater company from the ground up. The obstacles along the way drive her to make sure that art is accessible to everyone.
Suzan first fell in love with theater growing up in Chicago. When she began making decisions about her career, however, she knew how difficult the theater industry could be, so she took the practical route: a degree in nursing from the University of Illinois. And while she eventually found herself working in a bustling ICU, she quickly realized that her passion for theater was incurable and began acting between shifts. After moving to Milwaukee in 1989, she was disillusioned by the lack of opportunities for women in all facets of theater production. So in 1993, she joined forces with four female friends who’d also resolved to bridge the gender gap. Together they founded Renaissance Theaterworks, an organization dedicated to providing women with opportunities to grow and evolve both on and off the stage.
Five years later, Renaissance Theaterworks had their first full season of shows, and the organization continued to develop into an established part of Milwaukee’s theater scene. This journey was not always smooth, of course. Suzan had to do a lot of learning on the job—but she never used that as an excuse. Instead, she found motivation by reminding herself that “It can’t be that hard if others are doing it,” and she forged ahead, becoming more comfortable as each season passed.
This year marks Renaissance Theaterworks’ 25th season. Through hard work and dedication to maintaining a space for underrepresented women in the arts, Suzan and the other co-founders hope to provide an ever-expanding space for women in theater for years to come.