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  • Writer's pictureElisabeth Gasparka

Connecting Communities with Independent Theatre and Creative Happenings at the Brick House

Local couple builds on years of Milwaukee arts sector experience to support independent theatre and cultural happenings  


The front windows of The Brick House, with a view of the lit interior from the street at night.
Photo courtesy The Brick House.

The Brick House is an intimate arts and event venue located in Riverwest that opened to the public in 2023. Owners Amanda J Hull and Cole Heinrich are a married couple who both come from work in the arts, within theatre arts and music, respectively. The vision for The Brick House was in part a realization of a long-term goal, and part a pivot in response to learning that they were to become parents.  


Hull had been working multiple jobs as an actor, director, theatre instructor and administrative assistant, but she longed to work exclusively in the theatre industry. Initially, she planned to seek professional directing and acting jobs in town and in theatre communities in surrounding states, but when she conceived her child, she realized that for her, traveling for gigs would be out of the question for some time.  

Heinrich and Hull redirected their intentions and decided to open a space that instead could serve as a cornerstone for the local Milwaukee independent theatre and arts community, as well as the cultural ecosystem as a whole. 


“One of the biggest challenges for independent theatre companies is a lack of space for rehearsals, auditions, workshops and small performances,” said Hull. “Everything is expensive. We saw this space and we were inspired, and we decided to open it up.”  


The Brick House owners Amanda J Hull and Cole Heinrich. Photo courtesy The Brick House.

Based on her experience working within Milwaukee’s arts and culture ecosystem, Hull is excited about how the Brick House space can connect and platform independent theatre makers in Milwaukee. She sees the role of small theatrical productions as a means to promote social cohesion and cross-culturalization, as many performers, writers, and directors have roles or day jobs within other cultural organizations.  


Hull also sees her venue as a support mechanism for local individual artists to eke out a living right here in Milwaukee.  


“One of the coolest things about working in independent theatre is that it is really integrated in the community. Some of the larger theatre companies in the area often bring in production team members and performing artists from out of town.” 


According to Hull, in addition to naturally favoring local artists, small theatre entities and non-traditional venues also have the flexibility to take on presenting more experimental works in a way that larger theaters may not. In her view, as larger organizations are often more inclined or need to take on “crowd-pleasers” that will bring in a guaranteed level of revenue, independent producers may choose to take more risks, including often producing never-before-seen and locally crafted productions.  


An empty space with hardwood floors, and blackout curtains on the windows.
Photo of the interior of The Brick House, courtesy of the organization.

It is also Hull’s belief that the existence of smaller, independent companies and venues like the Brick House might help to expand the reach of the theatre, and arts in general. In staging new and different programs in intimate settings, they are reaching folks who may not even yet identify as theatergoers, or art lovers, thereby creating new theatre and arts patrons in the process. 

Overarchingly, Hull is excited about the future of theatre and arts in Milwaukee and is inspired by the role the Brick House can play.  


“There are so many artists who want to stay here and work, and they are able to do smaller, more intimate pieces. They can connect with the community on a more personal level,” reflected Hull. 


This month, the Brick House hosts a group rehearsing a one woman production of An Iliad which will perform at Waukesha Civic Theatre Feb 23rd-25th, Local artist and traveler Hannah Ricke will host her solo art show titled Now is the time for beasts in gallery and perform a different live performance portion every Friday in April,  May 3rd-5th Pink Umbrella Theatre Company will perform their production titled Bizarre Intrusive Thoughts—just to name a few of the bookings that were confirmed at the time of the interview.  


The interior set up with tables and chairs, and a bar.
Photo courtesy of The Brick House.

 

“I’ve found working in small theatre for the last 15 years, that it is a group journey,” reflected Hull. “You get to know the people you're working with in a unique way, and we always try to grow with the group however we can, connect to the community, and learn from them.”  


To inquire about booking at the Brick House for your event, production, or workshop, visit their website: https://www.thebrickhousemke.com/  

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