Columbia College Chicago Theatre Dept. Alum Cody Estle Takes the Reins as 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, is featured in the February 2023 issue of Milwaukee Magazine. In an article headlined “Meet Next Act Theatre’s New Artistic Director,” the magazine’s managing editor, Archer Parquette, introduces Estle as the new artistic director of Milwaukee’s Next Act Theatre – the first new person in that position in 30 years. “Out of 53 applicants, he got the gig and took over as artistic director in December, stepping into the shoes of David Cecsarini, 68, who is retiring after 30 years in the role,” writes Parquette, quoting Cecsarini as praising Estle, calling him “passionate, tremendously inquisitive, thoughtful, . . . [with] “a strong combination of pragmatism and belief in the magic of theater.”

Cody Estle (Photo: Aliza Baran)

“The man is extremely generous,” Estle says of his predecessor, who officially retired January 27, with Estle taking the reins in February. “I feel like I can take everything that he has done and can build on top of it.” According to the magazine article, “Estle has his sights set on commissioning new work for Next Act. ‘I want to tap into local writers to tell stories that Wisconsin individuals can see themselves in,’ he says.” You can read the full article here.

As previously reported in this blog, Estle joined Next Act after serving five years as artistic director of Chicago’s Raven Theatre. Under his leadership, Raven transitioned from Non-Equity to Equity status. Estle also oversaw the commissioning of seven new plays and the remodeling of Raven’s two theatre spaces, among other accomplishments. Under his leadership, Raven received 28 Jeff Award nominations and six Jeff Award wins.