June to October
picnic lunch with live music & play reading
Six Wisconsin playwrights will present original plays in progress on our intimate outdoor theatre, Alley Stage. Besides being fun to watch, a staged reading is an important way a playwright can get important feedback from an audience (you!) and determine what their next steps are with the script. Purchase picnic lunches featuring local restaurant fare, available at noon, to enjoy on the beautiful Shake Rag Alley grounds as local musicians perform. Stroll the short path to Alley Stage at 1 pm for a new play each visit. You can even get in on the act by signing up to be an actor or musician!
Occam’s Razor by Marcia Jablonski
Step Two by Brendon Smith
Cassandra by Jan Levine Thal
Love or Forever? by Kurt McGinnis Brown [note: adult content; mature audiences]
Shelter by Bob Curry
Magnolia Star by Jeff Pfeiffer
December to March
Writers in residence will read from and discuss their work Wednesday evenings from December 2020 to March 2021. It’s the perfect mid-week pause to reconnect with meaningful language.
Winter Writers Reading Series events are held Wednesdays, from 7-9 p.m. Engage award-winning authors in conversation!
Our Winter Writers Reading Series Partners
January to December
sharing books & crucial conversation
Our NEA Big Read of Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric” concluded in November 2020, but after more than 15 book discussions and art-making sessions, we know that the important conversations confronting racism in our country must continue. We’re grateful to Arts Midwest for spotlighting our NEA Big Read and look forward to continuing the journey with a virtual antiracism book club throughout 2021.
Materials and resources accumulated while reading Rankine’s award-winning work will remain in place, below the Antiracist Book Club schedule
To continue the crucial conversations Shake Rag Alley is hosting a monthly antiracism book club throughout 2021.
Our first meeting is scheduled for 6-7:30 pm Thursday, January 21, via Zoom to discuss The 1619 Project, published by The New York Times Magazine. In addition to the PDF linked to above, you can access the project online.
Please join us for one or all of these discussions as we consider the following probing and insightful books:
January 21: The 1619 Project
February 18: How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
March 19: The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
April 15: The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, by Jesmyn Ward
May 20: Men We Reaped: A Memoir, by Jesmyn Ward
June 17: The Undocumented Americans, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
July 15: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson
August 19: Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, by James W. Loewen
September 16: Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
October 21: Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar
November 18: A Peculiar Indifference: The Neglected Toll of Violence on Black America, by Elliott Currie
December 16: So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
For more information and to register to receive a Zoom link to any (or all!) of these FREE events, use the button below, send an email, or call (608)987-3292.
May 21-23, 2021
Friday - Sunday
write alongside other writers
Join us for the 5th annual Writing Retreat at Shake Rag Alley, open to writers of all levels. Enrich your talent and prospects in this charming art community and old mining town. Choose one of three genres taught by either Patricia Ann McNair (Memoir and Personal Essay; Retreat Artistic Director), Christine Rice (Crafting Fiction), or Sarah Hammond (Writing for Young People) for an in-depth workshop that will challenge you across the three days. These workshop directors are award-winning published authors and active, experienced teachers of writing.
Interwoven around these main workshops will be optional and inspiring creative activities, including talks on Writers Dreaming with Shawn Shiflett, Confessions of a Literary Magazine Editor with Christine Rice, Writing Your Opposite with Eric May, Magic in Your Pocket (Easy Handmade Books) with Philip Hartigan, Trust Your Voice, Trust Your Reader: Revision as Craft with Sheree Greer, a panel discussion on Literary Citizens & Building Community, a Faculty and Local Author Reading, and Open Mics that will make for a retreat jam-packed with opportunities to learn, share, network and write.
Manuscript consultations are available with instructors on a first sign up, first served basis, at a very affordable price.
We are pleased to work in partnership with Hypertext Magazine & Studio, a social justice writing nonprofit organization.
2 – 4 pm
workshop poems & deepen your craft
Driftless Poets meet on the second Saturday of each month at 2 pm either virtually via Zoom or on the Shake Rag Alley campus.
New poets are always welcome, but only those who have submitted work two weeks in advance will receive feedback and critique. Poets take turns leading the workshops by sharing a poem that demonstrates a form or craft technique and monitoring time.
What to Expect
In a writing workshop, a group of people engage in intensive discussion during a time set aside to focus on and improve one’s craft. Driftless Poets meet monthly to learn from one another by listening carefully to feedback on work submitted to the group.
How to Participate
The Driftless Poets workshops are free. You are welcome to attend in person on the Shake Rag Alley campus or to participate virtually, June-October. To receive the Zoom link, please register for the month(s) you’d like to attend:
- June 19 via Zoom
- No workshop in July
- August 14 via Zoom
- September 11 via Zoom
- October 9 via Zoom
- November 13 via Zoom
- December 11 via Zoom
For more information: (608) 987-3292.
Readings & Resources
Creative Writing Library
Several shelves of writing related books are available in the Art Cafe. Most are available for circulation, and include:
- literary & small press journals
- poetry, fiction & nonfiction anthologies
- craft & marketing guides
Meeting outdoors for social distancing.
Hold Your Own Events at Shake Rag Alley
Campus Map: Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts
18 Shake Rag Street
restrooms4 of 32 restrooms 5 of 32
Open Air Parking6 of 32
Lind Pavilion Parking7 of 32 Roadside Parking
allowed on Commerce Street 8 of 32
Smejas’ Studio parking9 of 32
30 Doty Street
as indicated 11 of 32
with curb cut
Alley Stage13 of 32
1830 Log Cabin
Federal Spring19 of 32
Monarch Garden20 of 32
411 Commerce Street
two blocks to
High Street & Commerce Street
Restaurants, Shops & Galleries
622 Dodge Street 23 of 32
Street Parking with Additional Parking behind Smejas’ Studio24 of 32 The Green
open air park 25 of 32 Stair Steps
Cabinet Shop & Lind Pavilion 26 of 32 Stair Steps
to Alley Stage 27 of 32 Stone Bridge
Federal Spring 28 of 32
223 Commerce St.29 of 32
223 Commerce St.30 of 32
The Sardeson Pottery Studio
225 Commerce St.31 of 32
Weaving & Fiber Arts Studio
Cannery Row Arts Incubator
121 Water St.
ADA compliant buildings: Lind Pavilion, Coach House, Smejas’ Studio