Michael Cotey is one of the most exciting and wildly inventive [up-and-coming directors]. Cotey’s best work...has toggled effortlessly between absurdist humor and deeper existential questions, underscoring the relation between the two.”

Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel



MICHAEL COTEY is a Chicago-based director and producer originally hailing from South Milwaukee, WI.

He has directed across the Midwest at Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, American Blues Theater, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Next Act, First Stage, Northwestern University, University of Wisconsin Madison and Milwaukee, Illinois Wesleyan University and Youngblood Theatre. Michael has also assisted at Goodman Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, and Milwaukee Rep, for prominent directors, including Tony Award-winners Mary Zimmerman and Robert Falls.

In 2019 Michael created ENOUGH: Plays to End Gun Violence. ENOUGH calls on teens to confront gun violence by creating new works of theatre that will spark critical conversations and inspire meaningful action in communities across the country. The initiative’s mission is to promote playwriting as a tool for self-expression and social change, harnessing this generation's spirit of activism and providing a platform for America's playwrights of tomorrow to discover and develop their voices today. Michael built from the ground up a coast-to-coast coalition of collaborators that includes regional giants like the Goodman, Alliance Theatre, and South Coast Rep to embrace new work by teen writers confronting the issue of gun violence. I created programming that has served nearly 3,000 artists from 29 states across two nationwide readings, garnering international press from the likes of PBS NewsHour, NPR and the BBC.

Prior to coming to Chicago, he was the Founding Artistic Director of Youngblood Theatre in Milwaukee. Regularly celebrated by the theater community and the press as one of the most exciting new Milwaukee theater ventures in decades, Youngblood provided professional opportunities to early-career emerging artists, introduced the works of provocative new playwrights, and staged theatre in raw found spaces that invoked Milwaukee’s storied industrial past.

Most recently Michael was appointed the Festival Producer of the inaugural World Premiere Wisconsin, a statewide festival celebrating new plays and musicals.

Michael graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in Acting and from Northwestern University with an MFA in Directing.  In 2014 he was named UWM’s “Graduate of the Last Decade.”

When not working on plays Michael is spoiled rotten by living an awesome life with his talented wife Eleanor Cotey, head of wardrobe at the Joffrey Ballet, reading too many comic books (always Marvel), and being the proud father of a beautiful boy named Jackson and two spastic Chihuahuas: Pepper Potts and The Incredible Hulk.

   MC talks about ENOUGH on PBS & NPR