Marie Kohler |
Your shopping cart is empty.

Marie Kohler

Actor / Playwriter / Director

  • Fellow
  • 2024
Arts, Arts Administration, Creative Writing, Theatre

Marie Kohler has significantly contributed to the theater arts in Wisconsin as an actor, playwright, director, artistic director, producer, and entrepreneur. Her efforts as Co-Founder of Renaissance Theaterworks exist on a continuum of Kohler’s lifelong love of theater’s power to tell transformative human stories. That began when her mother took her to all of Sheboygan’s Community Players’ productions (along with all the others she could get tickets for!).

The connection to theater grew in high school where she founded the school’s first theater club. It expanded further while studying and performing theater at Harvard University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in English Literature. And it fully blossomed after she settled in Milwaukee, where she raised two daughters, earned an MA at UW-Milwaukee, and worked professionally for years as a freelance journalist and actor. Then, in 1993, along with four like-minded women, Kohler co-founded Renaissance Theaterworks, where she served as Co-Artistic Director and Resident Playwright for twenty years. The company’s mission, hiring patterns, and play selection created a theatrical ecosystem in Wisconsin that cultivates professional work for women – both on stage and off. This was unparalleled in regional theater. (In fact, Renaissance is the second oldest theater company in the U.S. that focuses on gender parity.)

It’s still going strong. At Renaissance, Kohler’s playwriting career flourished, earning popular and critical acclaim for her plays, as well as nominations for multiple local and national awards, including two for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her credits include three published plays, a production at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, and a sold-out Off-Broadway run. Kohler’s service to theater and other arts includes the Regional Kennedy Center American College Theater Festivals, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s Arts & Humanities Advisory Board.

She is proud to have been named “Artist of the Year” and “Friend to the Arts” by the Milwaukee Arts Board. She also helps support performing arts groups, social service organizations, and, serving her passion for the environment, land conservation and freshwater science projects throughout our state.

Contact Us

Follow Us

Wisconsin Academy Offices 
1922 University Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53726
Phone: 608.733.6633


James Watrous Gallery 
3rd Floor, Overture Center for the Arts
201 State Street
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608.733.6633 x25