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Our mission is to provide a home base for Wisconsin theater professionals and audiences that expands the cultural and economic life of the greater Madison area.

We are Forward Theater

We founded Forward Theater Company in 2009 to provide Madison-area audiences with exceptional theater productions, and local professional artists with an artistic home base. We are inspired by the Wisconsin Idea of service to the broader community, and we tie our onstage work to expansive engagement efforts throughout each season.

The plays we produce are fresh, fun, and thought-provoking, bringing the very best of contemporary theater from Broadway and beyond to local audiences. And the Forward Theater experience is all about connection – we offer free pre-show lectures and post-show talkbacks with our artists, and you can always find our staff in the lobby ready to strike up a conversation.

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Forward Theater Company is proud be a resident organization in the beautiful Overture Center for the Arts, providing opportunities for artists and audiences to explore great dramas and provoke conversations about the issues that matter the most.


We are proud to partner with Overture Center for the Arts, area colleges, Wisconsin Public Radio, Dane County Libraries, Wisconsin Historical Society, Goodman Community Center, La Follette High School, Arts + Literature Laboratory, The United Way, Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, and many more local organizations to bring exciting, engaging, and challenging theater experiences to an ever-increasing audience.

What we value – FTC’s Bill of Rights

Forward Theater Company’s governance structure is greatly influenced by the “checks and balances” of the U.S. Constitution. Accordingly, we articulate our core values as a “Bill of Rights,” to supplement our Bylaws.

All branches of Forward Theater’s leadership (the Advisory Company, the Board of Directors, and Staff) are responsible for upholding these values.

We recognize that statements like these can feel performative. We share our values publicly so that we can be held accountable to them.


We value the theater professionals with whom we work and provide them with a brave, compassionate, and respectful work environment. We recognize our role in Wisconsin’s professional theater ecosystem and prioritize Wisconsin artists in our hiring.



We understand that our company exists to serve our audience. We demonstrate this by presenting our work at the highest possible standards of excellence, selecting plays that our audiences would not otherwise have access to, and rewarding the commitment of our subscribers. We strategically invest our time and resources in accessibility and complementary programming to enhance the experience of our current audiences and attract new audience members.



We take inspiration from the Wisconsin Idea that “a public university should improve the lives of people beyond the borders of its campus.” Likewise, we believe that our arts organization should contribute to the geographic and artistic communities we belong to. We prioritize the well-being of these communities, and consider how we can contribute to and advocate for them.



We bring together different perspectives to solve problems, netting long-term solutions that are stronger than the sum of their parts. We proactively seek to include voices that are missing from rooms where decisions are made. We forge partnerships to better serve our artists, our audiences, and the community. We don’t “silo” ourselves by department.



We dream big dreams in all aspects of our work. We stay open to possibility, not needing to be “right” all the time. We take risks, pursuing new ideas and actions in the spirit of discovery.

Financial Responsibility

We give careful thought to fiscal decisions and keep long-term sustainability at the forefront of our priorities. We hire and buy local whenever possible. We pay our artists at a level that attracts and retains respected talent.



We strive to do what is right – even when it’s the harder choice. It’s important to maintain accountability, uphold the values we espouse, and treat all of our collaborators with respect.



We believe in service leadership, as individuals and as an organization. We put the needs of employees, artists, and audiences first, and find success in the strength and growth of others as well as ourselves. Depending on the need, we pick up the reins, lead by example, or support from behind.



We support each other’s health as well as our own. We are spiritually nourished by the work of our art, physically nourished by shared meals, and mentally or emotionally nourished by the support we provide each other in our day-to-day collaboration. The best work happens when we’re our best selves.



We demand transparency in our work. Consistent and clear communication among Forward’s Staff, Board of Directors, and Advisory Company is key. This transparency extends to our public communications.


Since FTC’s founding, we have been deeply invested in being an Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, and Accessible company (IDEA). We have expanded that work to become actively Anti-Racist.

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