Rebecca Holderness receives national recognition


October 23, 2013


Nic Bernstein, 414-944-0028




Stage Director & Choreographer Society‘s “Zelda Fichandler” Award Recognizes Her Work In Regional Theater

Rebecca Holderness to be honored for her work in regional theater and how “the national arts landscape was transformed by (her) artistry, passion, and courage.” Ms. Holderness is one of four finalists for the Stage Director & Choreographer Society’s “Zelda Fichandler” Award and will be recognized at the annual awards ceremony – held November 4th in Cincinnati, Ohio – “for amplifying and boldly invigorating the performance scene in Milwaukee.”

Ms. Holderness, an accomplished director/theater professional and professor, is determined to challenge boundaries and take risks. Her interest in young professionals has stimulated her desire to reach beyond the world of academia to create opportunities for creative endeavors in Milwaukee.

Holderness recently recounted her experience moving to Milwaukee in 2005 , and described finding “The ghost of Milwaukee. With it’s industrial past shutting down, leaving swaths of the city empty, the real estate crash, and the decline of unions; the ghost represents a fear of risk.”

New to her position at UW-M, collaborating on creation of a BFA program in theatre, she met students, both black and white, who wouldn’t sit next each other in class, reflecting Milwaukee’s deep segregation. Her encounters with theater students looking for a voice and a desire to tell their stories combined with her passion for theater connected to community, to the human story and to responsive change brought to Ms. Holderness questions that shaped her work:

  • How do we model access and experimentation in the theater?
  • How to we enliven empty buildings and failing neighborhoods?
  • How do we keep our artists in Milwaukee?
  • How to we fight segregation and isolation?

Ms. Holderness’ work within the university continues to integrate the broader community into the educational experience. She has transformed her NYC theater company into a Milwaukee-based organization, The Battery Factory (TBF), a cultural reactor, bringing professionals from arts and business together with those just entering these fields of endeavor. TBF powers new arts opportunities and strives to better integrate the performing arts into all communities.

The Zelda Fichandler Award is devoted to the regional theatre, where the majority of professional theatre directors and choreographers in the United States are now working.  The Award recognizes extraordinary individuals who are advancing and continuing to transform the arts landscape.

Milwaukee celebrates the recognition of Rebecca Holderness, one of our own.


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