By Charlayne Woodard

Suzan Fete

Marti Gobel

90 minutes

About the Play

Back by popular demand, Renaissance Theaterworks presents its 2012 hit, with Marti Gobel reprising her tour-de-force role.

NEAT is a magical, often humorous, coming-of-age story. Based in the oral traditions of the African Diaspora, award-winning playwright, Charlayne Woodard is a modern-day griot. NEAT is based on the playwright’s lived experience. As an infant, Woodard’s beloved Aunt Beneatha (Neat), is denied treatment at the local “white” hospital, leaving her with permanent brain damage. But Neat possesses an enormous heart. With love and simplicity, Neat teaches young Charlayne to embrace black pride and cherish life through the turbulent 1960s and 1970s.

“In NEAT, Woodard is a magnificent storyteller who spins her own exquisite real-life remembrances of love and resilience. I’m so excited to bring NEAT back to Milwaukee. A sell-out hit for Renaissance Theaterworks in 2012 followed by a successful South African tour in 2013, NEAT is an inspiring story that reminds us all of what really matters, especially at times when we need it most,” shares Artistic Director Suzan Fete.

Artistic Team

Suzan Fete

Marti Gobel*

Bailey Wegner*
Stage Manager

Tony Lyons
Technical Director

Noele Stollmack~
Lighting Designer

Lisa Schlenker~
Scenic Designer

Chris Guse
Sound Designer

Amy Horst
Costume Designer

Jayne Pink
Choreographer & Movement Coach

* Member of Actors' Equity Association
~Member of United Scenic Artists


Barbara Johnson and Sandra Zingler


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Adult language. Recommended for audiences 13 and up.

Photo Gallery


Reviews from our 2021 production
This script depends on a genius actress to bring dozens of characters to life with specific voices, ages, cadences, accents and gestures, and there is no one better at this kind of shapeshifting than Marti Gobel. KEEP READING.

Journal Sentinel
By Jim Higgins
Woodard's script, inspired by her family history, meshes smoothly with Gobel's animated storytelling style. Both the playwright and the actor have a touch of griot in them. True to her form, Gobel makes sure every word gets delivered. KEEP READING.

Shepherd Express
By Anne Siegel
Marti Gobel’s ‘Neat’ is Bold, Audacious, Sometimes Humorous. (...) Those who missed the first go-round of this show would be wise to not make the same mistake again. KEEP READING.

Urban Milwaukee
By Dominique Paul Noth
Gobel Is Powerful in ‘Neat’. Director Susan Fete realizes she is archiving a robust performance of many voices, movements and ages by Marti Gobel, an actress whose command of the one-person format is already well known to Milwaukee audiences – and now can be seen anywhere in the world, as she well deserves. KEEP READING.

Dave Begel on Theater
Under the direction of Suzanne Fete, Ms. Gobel conducts a master class in acting. There is not a moment that is too much, nor a moment that is too little. She clearly understands how this story needs to be told and she gifts that understanding to the audience. KEEP READING.

Previews for our 2021 production

Urban Milwaukee
By Jeff Jordan
As the theater world looks to celebrate the contributions of people of color, Renaissance Theaterworks came up with a talented combination of playwright Charlayne Woodard and veteran Milwaukee actress Marti Gobel. KEEP READING.

Reviews from our 2012 production

Milwaukee Magazine
By Paul Kosidowski
There are certainly actors who can pull off the Dickensian feat of playing nearly two dozen characters in a single evening. Done right, it’s accomplished nimbly and elegantly—the slouch of a shoulder or the dip into a growly vocal register helping to populate the stage with supporting players of different generations or genders. But Marti Gobel’s remarkable performance in Renaissance Theatreworks’ Neat goes far beyond these skilled tricks of the trade. KEEP READING.

Urban Milwaukee
By Mary O'Hara Stacy
Jan 16th, 2012
Neat is a thoroughly engrossing and memorable story, and Gobel gives a bravura performance. KEEP READING.

By Damien Jaques
Jan 19, 2012
Needless to say, "Neat" requires an exceptional actor to credibly slip into and out of multiple roles in a blink of an eye. Renaissance has that in Marti Gobel, who exceeds her previous strong body of work in Milwaukee by demonstrating how well she can continuously engage an audience through two acts. KEEP READING.

Shepherd Express
By Russ Bickerstaff
Jan. 16, 2012
Tackling a feature show as a solo act is a fine art. Gobel focuses more on storytelling than dazzling characterizations, a shrewd way to handle this challenge. KEEP READING.

Shepherd Express
By Willy Thorn
Oct. 29, 2013
Gobel became the first African American to perform in Port Elizabeth. The trio’s joint endeavor, Neat, by Charlayne Woodard, follows apartheid-era miners in South Africa who inspire a young African American girl during the civil rights era. The trans-Atlantic cycle—South African miners inspiring Americans, who return to share both stories—“is really a wild kismet-type thing,” Fete says. KEEP READING.