IN THE PRESS
"Cooperative Performance embraces the abstract in its latest video theater offering Thunder Domestic. Creator Zach Byron Schorsch’s dance experience moves across the screen in a series of videos with no fixed order. Viewers choose the path of the abstraction by choosing from links in brief fragments of narrative text written in the second person point of view. Schorsch explores a minimalist notion of familial connection in a simple tale of a family going on a hike."
"It’s like a sophisticated video game. Zach Byron Schorsch’s Thunder Domestic is an interactive dance theater experience, which because of its interactive nature (audience chooses the next character to follow or the next scene to go to) can be viewed many times with a new narrative each time. Thunder Domestic features five performers from several states who rehearsed virtually, including Milwaukee expat Selena Milewski."
"I don’t have a name for what 'RE: Social/Divide' is, because I’ve never seen another production quite like it. It is both a film and theater performance, because it’s filmed and edited but performed in a single take. Coopman describes the show as 'an interdisciplinary performance piece,' but, in my opinion, the show demonstrates a creative, low-budget filmmaking that is shot with a firehose of theater kid energy... the result amounts to the only piece of staged entertainment in the pandemic that I’ve actually enjoyed."
"It’s a highly episodic plot that plays very much like highlights from an entire season of a well-written sitcom... a very large ensemble piece which comfortably presents a hell of a lot more story than one might expect from a single 90 minute program. Audiences are getting a great deal of content for only $15... it’s a remarkably tight, little package of drama and comedy."
"Tired of static virtual play readings seen through the all-too-familiar 'Brady Bunch' window? Milwaukee theater troupe Cooperative Performance has turned online obstacles into opportunities with an innovative spin on virtual performance."
"Cooperative Performance returns to the web this month with a new show. The group’s recent Embodied Truth was a compelling fusion of small-stage aesthetics that were firmly-rooted in Milwaukee. The group’s latest explores the nature of human connection in a world of digital connections made through the forced isolation that continues to impose itself on contemporary society... There’s a really interesting mix of talent involved in the show... If the last Cooperative Performance show was any indicator, this should be a really, really good show."
"Parenthood is complicated. As strangely miraculous as raising a child can seem, it’s one of the single most common things in the world. All people start out as smaller people. There are people there who watch over them as they get bigger. We generally tend to call these people parents. It’s simple, but it’s complicated. It’s also really difficult to infuse any sense of genuine insight into this process. This winter, Cooperative Performance Milwaukee presents a surprisingly deep, little video package on the topic. Embodied Truth: Finding Ways to Move Together. It’s a mixture of dance, spoken word and candid first-person stories that packs one hell of a lot into a beautifully concise, little half-hour package."
"Cooperative Performance’s new show, Embodied Truth: Finding Ways to Move Together, tells a lot with its title. It is an experience which draws on the lived experiences of the performers, who are all parents. It was devised by directors Daniel Burkholder and Kimani Fowlin—he is a white, married dad with a daughter, she is a mixed-race, single mother with a son—and born from concerns and reflections about their children’s future in a #metoo and #blacklivesmatter world."
"Cooperative Performance explores cycles of abuse and recovery in Kaleidoscope, a dance theater piece in the cozy space at Danceworks. The white frame of a doorway rests between two implied rooms. Kaitlyn Moore and Dana Leone Strothenke bring the complexities of emotional survival to the stage as a couple of women simultaneously recover from abusive relationships in a journey which feels considerably more expansive than its 50-minute runtime."
"J.J. Gatesman and Cooperative Performance stage an endearingly comic work of original physical theater with the premiere of Machina Persona. A cast of six play steampunk-inspired archetypes who are all working together on a flying machine."
"The very human fantasy of another world settles-in for a dazzling, little theatrical fugue. A huge budget isn’t needed for a dreamy theatrical experience. What Gatesman and company deliver here is akin to being dropped in a completely foreign community of heartwarmingly fragile people."
"Anyone familiar with Cooperative Performance’s work knows that they make the most of everything, using mountains of creativity to make an otherwise boring concept fascinating. Their latest production, Allusion/Illusion, is precisely that. Performed in an old warehouse in the Third Ward, every inch of space is adapted expertly to feel like its own world, and the viewer’s perspective and expectations are in for a wild ride."
"Cooperative Performance’s Allusion/Illusion is an intellectually exhilarating 45 minutes of experimental theatre. Like anything that’s truly experimental, it is many different things in many different ways. For 45 minutes the tiny, little improvised space in the Third Ward just down the street and around the corner from the Milwaukee Public Market becomes a fun existential playground cast in the emptiness of a vacant warehouse with vast expanses of plaster and Cream City brick."
"Dystopian stories can seem removed from our society: 1984 was written in 1948, Brave New World came out in 1932 and Fahrenheit 451 in 1955; which is why Quasimondo Physical Theatre and Cooperative Performance offered an updated, more modern take on the latter. The play, named Celsius 232, premiered in the North Milwaukee Arthaus, a former fire station turned theater."
"In this adaptation, Guy Montag is a public servant in a post-truth world who has it all – almost. A loving family, a luxury condo, and a fulfilling job with Squadron 232, he is committed to protecting the public from society's most sinister of threats: books. When a string of chance encounters ignites a trail of questioning, this humble firefighter must embark down a dangerous path to discover what's missing: truth."
"This fall, I was offered the opportunity to work as the editorial intern at the Shepherd Express. While I considered my main expertise to be in arts and entertainment, I hadn’t thought about the various forms it takes. I’m a music snob, so when I was handed a list of theater articles and reviews, I felt out of my element. My trips around Milwaukee have brought me to many extraordinary buildings, but nothing had compared to the feeling I had when I walked into the site of the North Milwaukee Arthaus."
"Cooperative Performance’s bold high-energy adaptation of Shakespeare’s CORIOLANA is a spare production. A couple of towers are wheeled around to suggest different locations. Costuming is simple and pragmatic with opposing forces clearly identifiable by color. The visual simplicity allows the raw aggression and brutality of the production to appealingly guide the drama’s momentum."
"What if women assumed male privilege and behaved as men do? Coriolana is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus in which the title character, a Roman patrician and prime example of what’s commonly called “toxic masculinity,” is not merely played by a woman but is reconceived as a female character."
"This month Cooperative Performance runs a deliciously eclectic, little shorts program right downtown at the Underground Collaborative. The two-hour/one intermission program starts heavy, gets heavier and finishes light with some warm, endearing comedy that lingers pleasantly into the evening."
"'I’ll join the army,' says a young, enthusiastic yet naive recruit at the start of A Piece of My Heart. 'I’ll save the world.' In this case, the new recruit is a female, and she and six other female volunteers are headed for Vietnam. By play’s end it will be enough if they can save themselves from what lies ahead of them all."
"It's a compelling look at war from a perspective that doesn’t often get seen."
"From beginning to end, A Piece of My Heart is remarkably intense."
"War is hell, and that certainly was true with America’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict during the 1960s and 1970s. Books, films and plays about the era largely focus on the male soldiers’ suffering, leaving the nurses and other female personnel who served languishing in history’s shadows. Cooperative Performance, a Milwaukee theater troupe, aims to change that with its production of A Piece of My Heart, playwright Shirley Lauro’s stage adaptation of Keith Walker’s oral history of 26 women who served in — and survived — the Vietnam War."
"A tribute to the women who served in the Vietnam War hits the stage soon. 'A Piece of My Heart' runs this weekend through the end of April at the War Memorial Center. Erika Kirkstein-Zastrow, Sheng Lor, and Alan Piotrowicz joined us on 'Live at Noon' to discuss the award winning play."
"Thousands of American women supported U.S. troops in Vietnam. This Cooperative Performance play, which counts veterans among its crew, sheds light on the true stories of 6 such women."
"Cooperative Performance presents a new staging by director Abigail Stein of a celebrated 1991 play by Shirley Lauro about women who served overseas in the Vietnam War. 'We watch six women enlist, experience trauma in the warzone and then try to re-acclimate themselves back to American life,' Stein said."
"As part of its 'Women in War Series,' the War Memorial Center hosted a preview of the award-winning play 'A Piece Of My Heart' Thursday night."
"Cooperative Performance has announced its 2018-2019 season with five projects that explore female relationships and gender role expectations, censorship, our perceptions of reality and mental health."
"Cooperative Performance is pleased to announce its sixth season, including four new works and its annual One Act Festival. Exploring themes such as the female relationship, censorship, perception of reality, and mental health, the company’s upcoming season breathes new life into these ideas through nontraditional performance methods. This diverse five show season of original and devised work will spur audiences to debate, question, and challenge their surroundings."
"Cooperative Performance presents a premiere, Ellis, a work pulled together from a diverse group of personal narratives about being an immigrant in the U.S. The show’s creators Kelly Coffey and Don Russell, in collaboration with Alejandra Gonzalez and Alverno College, bring together stories of those who have come here from Latin America, Europe, India and elsewhere. Stories of displacement, identity and belonging scatter across an intimate stage as spoken through an ensemble from a variety of ages and ethnicities."
"In 'Ellis,' a 60-minute piece devised by Kelly Coffey and Don Russell, Cooperative Performance tries to talk past such divisions, through stories featuring immigrants to America from all over the world. Presented in collaboration with Alejandra Gonzalez and Alverno College, it opened over the weekend under Coffey’s direction"
"Alejandra Gonzalez came to the United States from Mexico when she was 5 years old, eventually settling with extended family in an attic in Milwaukee. She’s lived here ever since, but Gonzalez wonders if she will be deported to Mexico, a country she hasn’t known for almost 20 years."
"Immigration, and the stories of immigrants, are front and center in this country - from the debate over the future of DACA, to the proposed border wall, no-fly lists and travel bans. It is a challenging time to be an immigrant in this country."
"Writer Jeff Grygny has long been interested in how philosophy, culture, science, and spirituality intersect. His latest work, The Performance Ecology Project, factors in the natural world. The production is a collaboration of Quasimondo Physical Theatre and Cooperative Performance."
"Journey into the forest with The Performance Ecology Project. The hour long show, conceived and developed by Jeff Grygny, directed by Brian Rott and presented by Coopertive Performance in collaboration with Quasimondo Physical Theatre, is a collection of stories adapted for theatrical performance. It follows the journeys of six performers’ during a five-week immersion in Mother Nature. The cast has a range of backgrounds in acting, dancing, poetry and music."
"The magic in Cooperative Performance’s season-opening show takes place outside, in the nature preserve abutting the Urban Ecology Center. Brainchild of Jeff Grygny and directed by Brian Rott, “The Performance Ecology Project” features six performers – Sarah Best, JJ Gatesman, Kavon Jones, Hesper Juhnke, Jessi Miller and Ben Yela – sharing their version of 'Walden.'”
"Five years ago, the young Milwaukee actress Kelly Coffey enrolled in a Suzuki class at the Rep taught by Neal Easterling, an actor in the Rep’s Education Department. In Coffey’s words, “It brought everything I’ve learned about acting and movement together. I wanted to do more of it and I thought other people would want that. So I said to Neal, we should continue these classes somewhere in the community and maybe even perform. He was, like, yeah, and talked about starting a company. I hadn’t dreamed of that. So I said, ‘Sounds great, how does that work?’”