Columbia College Chicago Theatre Dept. Alum Named Artistic Director of Milwaukee’s Next Act Theatre

Cody Estle (Photo: Joe Mazza)

Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department alum Cody Estle ’11, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s Theatre Directing program, has been named artistic director of the Next Act Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The announcement was made on Monday, October 24, 2022, jointly by Next Act in coordination with Chicago’s Raven Theatre, where Estle has served as artistic director since November of 2017. Estle will step down at Raven at the end of November and assume the leadership of Next Act on December 1.

“I am honored to become the artistic director of Next Act Theatre and to shepherd its legacy into the future,” Estle said. “I’m excited to collaborate with the dedicated board, staff and artists to produce excellent theater for the people of Milwaukee.”

As previously reported in this blog, Estle became artistic director of Chicago’s venerable, award-winning Raven Theatre in 2017, succeeding Raven’s founding artistic director Michael Menendian, who recruited Estle as associate artistic director in 2014. During his five-year tenure as Raven’s artistic director, Estle shepherded Raven through the COVID-19 pandemic and oversaw the company’s transition from non-Equity to Equity status, the commissioning of seven new plays, and the remodeling of Raven’s two theatre spaces, among other accomplishments. Under his leadership, the company received 28 Jeff Award nominations and six Jeff Award wins.

“I’m very proud of what we have achieved together at Raven Theatre during my time as artistic director,” Estle said. “Raven has shaped who I am and I’m very grateful for my time here. I look forward to seeing the theatre continue to soar.”

Besides his work at Raven Theatre, Estle has directed productions at Northlight, Redtwist, Shattered Globe, Citadel, and other theatres in the Chicago area. He was the co-founder of Haven Theatre Company, which continues operation today as Haven Chicago.