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Theatre Gigante presents its 31st Season

TARZAN press release

THEATRE GIGANTE, celebrating its 30th Season,
presents THE U.S. premiere of


an exotic drama

written by Rok Vilčnik

at Kenilworth 508 Theatre
March 16 – 24, 2018


This could happen in any jungle …

Theatre Gigante is thrilled to present the U.S. premiere of TARZAN, written by award-winning Slovenian playwright, Rok Vilčnik, and translated into English by Isabelle Kralj, Mark Anderson and Melita Koletnik.

TARZAN, which runs March 16-24 at Kenilworth 508 Theatre is directed by Wes Savick, with lighting design by Eric Appleton, scenic design by Rick Graham, and costume design by Marion Clendenen-Acosta.  The performers include Anderson, Kralj, and Don Russell.

In TARZAN, Vilčnik brilliantly plays with reality in a world where hyenas can talk Human, an older Jane can get pregnant, and Tarzan comes close to losing his position as Lord of the Jungle, all the while broaching questions and issues that are very real in today’s world.

The foundation of the drama played out in this black comedy is the most basic intrigue found in the relationship between two lovers – in this case, Tarzan and Jane.

As in most romantic comedies or melodramas in the theater and film worlds, Tarzan and Jane clash with witty dialogue as they struggle with communicating, unsatisfied desires, jealousy, and the question of whether or not to have a child.

Placing the drama in the middle of the jungle gives us a strange new perspective on these issues – a twist – yet at the same time we find them completely familiar and recognizable.

Vilčnik compounds the drama by weaving into these existing complexities of the relationship questions about humanity, societal norms, happiness, stereotypes, and the boundaries between the human and animal worlds – which are far from being as clear to us as we like to think.

About the Playwright
Rok Vilčnik, also known as rokgre, is a Slovenian writer, playwright; poet, songwriter and screenwriter, living in Maribor, Slovenia.  He started his career as a painter and earned a BEd in fine arts. Due to a hand injury his career took a turn and he started writing. He has been a freelance artist ever since.

Mostly known for his plays for adults and children, Vilčnik is also a novelist, a poet, a founding member and songwriter for the popular Slovenian bands Patetico, Papir, and Pliš, and a songwriter for various Slovenian singers.

He was recognized by the city of Maribor for his cultural achievements, particularly for his book of plays, titled American Trilogy, with the Glazer Charter award (2014).  Vilčnik is also a three-time recipient of the Grum Award for Best New Slovenian Play (2000, 2008, 2016), and a recipient of the Slovenian Noble Comediographer award (2004).

This prolific Slovenian artist has written twenty plays, three radio dramas, four television series, three books of poetry, three novels, and three children’s plays.

About Theatre Gigante
Now in its 30th year, Theatre Gigante enlivens the local performance scene with its unique style of original theater – often referred to as the Gigante Style – in ways that are thought-provoking, compelling and entertaining.  The company has a strong history of dynamic collaborations with nationally and internationally known musicians, visual artists, composers, and performers. This boutique theatre of big ideas is exciting, challenging, and fresh.

[Kralj and Anderson] have been invaluable pioneers in forging a unique hybrid of dance and theater in Milwaukee.  Their work is always intellectually and sensually engaging and, while playful and witty, a serious experiment with the variables of live performance.                       John Schneider, Shepherd Express

About Isabelle Kralj & Mark Anderson
Isabelle Kralj and Mark Anderson have been contributing to the Milwaukee arts community for over thirty years, separately, then together.  They are first and foremost storytellers, and they use their diverse/eclectic backgrounds to bring many styles and genres to their finished products. In 1996 the two became an artistic team.  Since then, they have written or co-written over forty theater works, and developed an innovative, unique signature style of experimental, hybrid theatre.

About Don Russell
Don Russell is a member of Cooperative Performance and currently serves as Chair for their Board of Directors. Through Cooperative Performance he has had to the opportunity to write, direct, and perform in several innovative performance works and to build relationships with many artists in Milwaukee’s performing arts community. Recent performances include Cambrian with Cooperative Performance, Animolecules with Quasimondo, Cloud of Gnats with Kathryn Cesarz, and Real-Time with Andrea & Daniel Burkholder. This is Don’s first appearance with Theatre Gigante.

TARZAN is made possible in part by the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, UPAF, Milwaukee County CAMPAC and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Slovenian Arts Council.

tickets and showtimes


Kenilworth 508 Theatre
1925 E Kenilworth Place
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

March 16 – 24, 2018

                                                                                                                        March 16          7:30pm            (post-show reception, with the playwright)
March 17          7:30pm
March 18          2:00pm
            (post-show talkback, with the playwright)

March 22          7:30pm            (pay what you can)
March 23          7:30pm
March 24          7:30pm


Brown Paper Tickets:  1.800.838.3006

Ticket Prices
$25 General;  $20 Senior;  $15 Students

to download the press release, click here

METAMORPHOSIS press release

THEATRE GIGANTE, celebrating its 30th Season,
adapted, written, and directed by Isabelle Kralj
at Kenilworth 508 Theatre

January 25 – 28, 2018

One weekend only!


When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams, he found himself changed into a monstrous cockroach in his bed.

Thus begins one of Kafka’s most Kafkaesque novellas!

Based on Franz Kafka’s novella by the same title, Gigante’s METAMORPHOSIS explores the deep and disturbing effects of alienation, as it relates the bizarre story of Gregor Samsa, who one morning wakes up finding himself turned into a monstrous, verminous bug.

Isabelle Kralj’s heightened cartoon-like interpretation, told through text, music and movement, dances along the edge of horror and humor.

To underscore this cacophonous and highly stylized adaptation of the story, Kralj has incorporated music by Slovenian composer Borut Kržišnik.  Intensity, diversity and exciting changes are the main characteristics of his music, and his profound stylistic eclecticism is absolutely perfect for Gigante’s production.  Hailing from Ljubljana, Slovenia, Kržišnik is an internationally respected composer, perhaps best known for his work with British film director, Peter Greenaway.

Alan Piotrowicz, a well-known Milwaukee lighting and set designer, will add his talents to the production with his minimalist set and expressionistic lighting design.  Alan last designed for Gigante in 2015, when he created an intense atmosphere for Gigante’s production of Terminus.

Costumes are designed and constructed by Gigante’s longtime designer Marion Clendenen-Acosta.

METAMORPHOSIS, directed by Kralj, is rounded off with her choreography and the improvisational contributions of dancer Edwin Olvera – a Gigante regular and a member of Pilobolus, an internationally acclaimed dance theater.

In addition to Olvera, the talented cast includes Gigante regulars Ben Yela and Ron Scot Fry and newcomers to the Gigante stage, Selena Milewski and Hannah Klapperich-Mueller.

Metamorphosis is made possible in part by Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts, UPAF, and Milwaukee County CAMPAC.

tickets and show information

Kenilworth 508 Theatre
Kenilworth Square East
1925 E Kenilworth Place
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


January 25                          7:30pm                  (w/post-show reception)
January 26                          7:30pm                  (post-show talkback)
January 27                          7:30pm
January 28                          2:00pm

Admission:  $25 General/  $20 Senior/  $15 Student

Brown Paper Tickets  1.800.838.3006

to download the press release, click here

Theatre Gigante’s 2017 Holiday Newsletter



Wow, another year of gigantic theater, and this one has propelled us into our 30th Anniversary Season!  We are thrilled and thankful to you for all you’ve done to make it possible.

In January, Theatre Gigante launched 2017 with a performance at the University of Maribor in the city of Maribor in Slovenia.  The performance, titled THE WAY THINGS GO, was written by Mark Anderson as a monologue 25 years ago, and was adapted by Isabelle Kralj for two people and a drummer.  The performance was wonderfully received!

In the audience was awarded Slovenian playwright Rok Vilčnik, and after seeing the show, he commissioned Isabelle, Mark and Melita Koletnik, Professor of Translation at the University of Maribor, to translate his play TARZAN.  The task was completed in August, and Gigante will be presenting the English version of this fabulous black comedy in March of 2018!

Theatre Gigante’s second performance took place in March. Regular Gigante musician/composer/performer Frank Pahl’s LITTLE BANG THEORY, the dazzling and sublime musical performance group from Ann Arbor/Detroit, comprised of Frank, Terri Sarris and Doug Shimmin, accompanied a screening of Lon Chaney’s 1928 silent film, LAUGH CLOWN LAUGH, with an original score.  This magical weekend took place in Kenilworth 508 Theatre.

Also in March, Gigante once again donned Peter & Wolf attire and performed their PETER & THE WOLF & THE ONE MAN BAND in schools throughout Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties.  This program, sponsored by the Milwaukee Symphony ACE Program, is a big hit with the first graders and great fun for the performers, as well!

Then, Alverno College invited Gigante to create a work to be performed in April in their Pitman Theatre.  Gigante jumped at the wonderful opportunity, and Isabelle re-adapted Mark’s THE WAY THINGS GO – only this time, for ten performers, including Frank, as a one-man band.

THE WAY THINGS GO became a cacophony of musings, thoughts, and ideas, in which performers guided the audience through a humorous evening of text, movement, song, and music, poetically embracing the mystery of life, with juggling balls, bicycles, stilts, cubes, microphones, chairs, and a whole slew of fun instruments!

The cast members are masterful in their movement; perfectly in sync, they go from embodying a group therapy session to Sir Isaac Newton’s cradle to the night sky. It is a philosophy class at the circus…Theatre Gigante’s composite of movement, song and speech endeavors to provide a platform to engage in a conversation about “you-ness” and tackle no less than the meaning of life.
                                                 Hannah Klapperich-Mueller, Shepherd Express

In August, Theatre Gigante opened its 30th season at the second annual Milwaukee Fringe Festival with a performance of Frank O’Hara’s poem, LEXINGTON AVENUE, delightfully set to music by Jason Powell and performed by Powell and Erin Hartman, with Anne Van Deusen on piano.

What Gigante did with LEXINGTON AVENUE is what they’ve done so very, very well over the course of the past ten or so years of their total thirty that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing…something primal exists in the abstractions of simple movements and bits of dialogue that no realistically grounded artifice could ever manage no matter how brilliantly rendered the sets, costuming and lighting might be.                                                   Russ Bickerstaff, Shepherd Express

In September and October, Gigante audiences were introduced to Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf, Berlin’s most notorious transvestite, in Doug Wright’s I AM MY OWN WIFE, directed by Isabelle and featuring Michael Stebbins.  This timely play was beautifully embodied by Michael, who played over thirty-five characters, including the charming, enigmatic Charlotte.

… a powerful emotional package that eschews ambiguity in favor of something much more emotionally sweeping. The emotionality of the piece is amplified by the simplicity of the production. Directed by Isabelle Kralj with stark and primal lighting by Leroy Stoner, Theatre Gigante’s staging amplifies the basic emotion of the piece to tell a story focused on the internal struggles of a captivating person.                                                     Russ Bickerstaff, Shepherd Express

November brought the brilliant performer David Gaines and his one-man comedic powerhouse, 7 (x1) SAMURAI, back to Gigante audiences, where he delighted capacity crowds. In attendance was a group of 7th and 8th graders from Highland Community School and a group of UWM theater students, with faculty from the Theatre and Dance Departments.  Besides gracing the stage with his performances, David also taught a fabulous theater workshop at Pius High School.

The percentage of people likely to be satisfied this weekend by Warner Brothers’ Justice League isn’t likely to be nearly as close to 100% as it is with Theatre Gigante and David Gaines7(x1) SAMURAI. Anybody can tell a heroic adventure story with a few hundred million dollars. It takes a special kind of crazy to tell this kind of story with one guy live onstage…and it’s a lot more fun to watch…Hollywood could learn a lot from Gaines.
                                                              Russ Bickerstaff, Shepherd Express

All of these artistic activities are made possible with your help – by your attendance at our shows, your word of mouth, and through your generosity in the form of financial donations.

In this Holiday Season – and for Gigante’s 30th Anniversary – we hope you will consider investing in Gigante by sending a tax-deductible donation.  Thank you for everything!

“…possibly one of the best (if not the best) and most inspiring works of theatre I’ve seen in a very long time.  from a satisfied customer!”

                                                                        Gigante Audience member



Help make many more performances possible.
Join the fun and the celebration! Donate today,
and watch your dollars turn into new art!

to make a donation, click HERE
or mail a check to:
Theatre Gigante
P.O. Box 1999
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1999



The Way Things Go for you, and for them…

“There is a you…then there is a them…and the thing that I’m suggesting is that your connection to them…is…something!”


Come see them in Gigante’s premiere of

Actors, dancers, singers, juggling balls, stilts, mics, cubes and chairs all rolled into
one delightful theatrical experience!

two weekends only!

April 21-29 at 7:30

Pitman Theatre, Alverno College
3431 S. 39thStreet

for tickets:

Wisconsin Gazette preview for The Way Things Go

check out this great preview from the Wisconsin Gazette  

THE WAY THINGS GO press release

Click on this link to read The Way Things Go Press Release

Little Bang Theory returns with a new score to a classic film


Theatre Gigante is excited to announce the return of Frank Pahl’s Little Bang Theory, the dazzling and sublime musical performance group from Ann Arbor/Detroit that delighted Gigante audiences in 2015, playing on toys and children’s instruments, accompanying silent animated films from the early 20th century.
This time around, the band accompanies a screening of Lon Chaney’s 1928 romantic tragedy and silent film, Laugh, Clown, Laugh – the story of Tito, a travelling circus clown touring the country, who chances upon an abandoned child. Naming her Simonetta, Tito decides to raise the young girl as his own – but after she’s grown up, Tito’s feelings towards Simonetta turn from nurturing to romantic, as emotion becomes a tangled love triangle, revolving around Tito, Simonetta and Luigi, a wealthy man whose loving advances Simonetta rejected years earlier.
Don’t miss the drama, the passion, and the musical toys played by bandleader/composer Frank Pahl and musicians Terri Sarris and Doug Shimmin.
March 3 & 4, at 7:30
Kenilworth 508 Theater
1925 E. Kenilworth Place
on Milwaukee’s cool (cold) East Side
All seats, $20


to purchase tickets, call 1.800.838.3006
or online:

Theatre Gigante’s 2016 Holiday Newsletter


Our first event took place March 4-12, when Gigante presented Georg Büchner’s classic expressionist play WOYZECK at Kenilworth 508 Theater.  Adapted by Jim Butchart, this original and innovative Gigante interpretation was infused with music composed by Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan and was exquisitely performed here by internationally acclaimed artists Frank Pahl and Paris-based chanteuse Christine Zufferey.  Mark, in the title role, was joined onstage by Isabelle, Leslie Fitzwater, Edwin Olvera, and Michael Stebbins.

Theatre Gigante delivers “powerful Woyzeck” in key of Tom Waits… This gorgeous song always sends me, but there’s nothing quite like seeing it sung in the context of the play for which it was written, as Kralj and Anderson circle the drain that will claim both Marie and Woyzeck. You’ve got one more weekend to experience this phenomenon for yourself.                                      Mike Fischer

Do yourself a favor and see something you’ll vividly be remembering in 2026. This is a remarkably memorable trip to the theatre.             Russ Bickerstaff

April 4-8 Theatre Gigante performed its PETER & THE WOLF & THE ONE-MAN BAND, created by Isabelle, with Aaron Gardner as the “one-man band,” in nine schools.  A resounding success, this Gigante original is presented through the Milwaukee Symphony ACE Program, and reaches approximately 550 first-graders, yearly.
Faculty comments:
-I loved the story and how enthusiastic the artists were.  I really liked how they presented the story and the characters.

-The performers had a lot of energy.  The students were engaged.

-A very clever and creative presentation. The students loved it!

-I liked how it promoted the students imagination as the characters were performing.

-It demonstrated a lot of movement and dancing which is very engaging for the students.

Gigante brought Milwaukee another classic performance June 17 & 18, GUY KLUCEVSEK IN CONCERT, at Kenilworth 508 Theater.  One of the world’s most versatile and highly respected accordionists, Guy appeared with Gigante for the sixth time.  The evening was made up of Guy’s beautiful and hypnotic music spanning four decades of creative work, performed by Guy and Milwaukee’s own treasure, violinist Eric Segnitz.

If you ever get a crack at hearing him live, sell whatever it takes to raise the funds to get there!                                                       Cliff Furnald, CMJ

August 28, Gigante premiered Then and Now and Then, written and performed by Mark as part of Milwaukee’s brand new Fringe Festival in Marcus Center’s Todd Wehr Theater.  Gigante was thrilled to be a part of the Fringe and hopes this festival will become a Milwaukee theater staple!
Audience comments:
-Mark, thank you for your personal performance tonight. It was the highlight of the festival for me!
-It struck a lot of chords in my own life. Which, in the end, is what it’s all about, really, isn’t it? Shared experience, identifying with one another, finding commonality in the human experience?

A political comedy, QUORUM, written by Mark, hit Milwaukee for a little pre-election fun, October 7-15.  This very timely piece, actually written 24 years ago, was performed by Mark, Isabelle, and Milwaukee’s very talented Leslie Fitzwater, Ron Scot Fry, Michael Stebbins, Bo Johnson, and Jocelyn Ridgely.  Presented at Plymouth Church on Milwaukee’s east side, a perfect setting for QUORUM.  A fun time was had by all, with this one, both in rehearsal and in performance, where we were joined by full houses of lively, charged audiences!

We need to show up so there’ll be a quorum and we can continue; the fact that the characters in “Quorum” actually do so is testament aplenty to our commitment and ability, against all odds, to somehow carry on together.

Mike Fischer

The silence in a room can only be defined by those who aren’t speaking. There’s a certain kind of silence that only happens in committee. There’s a special kind of silence that only happens in congress. There’s a certain kind of silence that only happens in a theater. There’s a special kind of silence that only happens at a Theatre Gigante show….  It’s an election year. I read about politics. I read about the complete lack of coherent government here and elsewhere. It’s frustrating. With Mark Anderson’s Quorum, Theatre Gigante does the unthinkable: it makes that kind of frustration fun to watch. In allowing us to laugh at it in the abstract, maybe it can help us understand…     Russ Bickerstaff

On November 12, Marquette University hosted the Milwaukee Theater Summit, organized by John Schneider, one of the founding members of the new Fringe Festival. The panel consisted of Panna Adorjani (theater scholar, Hungary, EU), and Philip Arnoult (Center for International Theater Development); Gigante Artistic Directors Isabelle & Mark; Simone Ferro (UWM Dance Department); Suzan Fete (Renaissance Theaterworks); Malkia Stampley (Bronzeville Arts Ensemble).  Well attended, the event concluded with dynamic audience discussion.

November 17 also brought about a Gigante appearance at the Whitefish Bay Library, as part of the Whitefish Bay Talks series.  The extremely well attended event’s topic was – our favorite topic – Theatre Gigante! After a brief talk Isabelle and Mark were joined by two Gigante regulars, Michael Stebbins and John Kishline, in a performance of excerpts from SPALDING GRAY: STORIES LEFT TO TELL.  The audience was high-spirited and enthusiastic, and we all walked away from the evening feeling stimulated!

November/December are the months Isabelle joins four Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra musicians in a school performance highlighting the fundamentals in music and dance.  Ten area schools are visited.  This program, developed for third grade, ends in a lively hand dance the children perform with Isabelle and the musicians, to demonstrate a creative tool that is sometimes used when choreographing.  The program is part of ACE.

On the 9th of December Gigante returned to Boswell Book Company for a reading of David Sedaris’ THE SANTALAND DIARIES.  The evening was a free event, open to the public. For theatergoers and bookstore lovers alike, looking for fun fare this holiday season, this was just the ticket!  Gigante performer Michael Stebbins, no stranger to the work of David Sedaris, read this gem of a story – a humorous account of Sedaris’ stint working at Macy’s Department Store as Crumpet the Elf in Santaland.  A good crowd joined us for this classic, at the intersection of Christmas and retail…enjoying a Gigante performance and picking up some holiday presents from Boswell Book Company…all in one swoop!

We thank you for everything – your friendship, your attendance at our events, for reading this long newsletter, and for supporting us!

Theatre Gigante wishes you a
Happy Holiday Season

CHEERS 2017!!!


Help make many more performances possible.
Join the fun and the celebration! Donate today,
and watch your dollars turn into new art!

to make a donation, click HERE
or mail a check to:
Theatre Gigante
P.O. Box 1999
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1999