Archive for shows

Meet the Cast for Spalding Gray: Stories Left To Tell

Mark Anderson–Deborah Clifton–John Kishline–Isabelle Kralj–Jill Anna Ponasik

MARK ANDERSON, Artistic co-Director of Theatre Gigante, has been writing and performing monologues, plays and performance art pieces, for forty years, mostly in Milwaukee, and elsewhere in the U.S. In 1996, he began working with Isabelle, and since then they‘ve written, developed and produced loads of productions for Gigante. Mark has received two Wisconsin Arts Board Artist Fellowships.
DEBORAH CLIFTON has been performing and co-creating work for over 40 years.  She has performed in the United States, Europe, Japan, and India.  Deborah was a part of Theatre X for decades and has performed with many other companies, including Theatre Gigante!
JOHN KISHLINE is an actor, director, playwright and designer in theatre, and his design work won an OBIE in New York.  He has served in over 190 productions in the United States, Europe, Japan, and India, created over 40 works, and was a founding member of Theatre X.  John has performed with Theatre Gigante in numerous productions!
ISABELLE KRALJ is the Founder and Artistic co-Director of Theatre Gigante.  She has been directing, writing, choreographing and performing for forty years, and has created over forty works alone, or in collaboration with Mark Anderson. Her work has been seen in various cities across the U.S. and in Europe. She is the recipient of a Choreographic Award from the Wisconson Arts Board and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Slovenian Arts Program.
JILL ANNA PONASIK is appearing with Theatre Gigante for the first time!  She is the Producing Artistic Director of Milwaukee Opera Theatre and the Artistic Associate of Skylight Music Theatre. She has worked with numerous companies in the United States, and is currently developing and directing many projects and productions in Milwaukee!

Get your tickets now!!!

Learn more about the exquisite Spalding Gray

Spalding Gray (1941-2004) was an actor and a writer, best known for his monologues, wherein he told humorous, poignant, personal stories based on his life, mostly while sitting at a table, sipping from a glass of water, talking into a microphone. He described his writing as “poetic journalism,” in that he did relate what had happened, but with a bit of editing or embellishment – as seemed fit.
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Spalding achieved fame with his monologue SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA, made into a film by Jonathan Demme in 1987. The success of that film boosted his career, leading to more film acting roles, which also took him away from his work with The Wooster Group, an experimental theatre company in New York. But he kept doing his monologues, MONSTER IN A BOX, GRAY’S ANATOMY, IT’S A SLIPPERY SLOPE, MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT, and others — many of which have been published, the last being LIFE INTERRUPTED.
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In 2001, on a trip to Ireland, the vehicle he was riding in was hit by a truck, and Spalding suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, which caused brain damage, and depression. While undergoing treatment, he kept working on new material, performing bits of it in-progress. Along the way, he found he couldn’t perform like he used to. His depression led to thoughts of suicide, including attempts. One night in January 2004, he succeeded, jumping off the Staten Island Ferry into the East River. His body was found two months later.
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A few years after Spalding died, his widow, Kathleen Russo, and theatre director Lucy Sexton, assembled a script made of excerpts from his monologues, his journals, and letters. The texts were organized into five topics that were important to Spalding: Love, Family, Adventure, Journals, and Career, performed in our production by Isabelle Kralj, John Kishline, Mark Anderson, Deborah Clifton, and Jill Anna Ponasik.
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Gigante’s production of SPALDING GRAY: STORIES LEFT TO TELL takes place November 15-18, 2018 at Kenilworth 508 Theatre (1925 E Kenilworth Place).  Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 2:00.
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On Friday and Sunday, there will be a post-show talkback about the production, but also about mental health, brain injury and suicide, with local psychologists. We want to acknowledge this difficult part of the story, but also celebrate the bright parts of Spalding’s life.
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Tickets now on sale
gigantespalding.brownpapertickets.com
800-838-3006

SPALDING GRAY: STORIES LEFT TO TELL press release

Back by popular demand

THEATRE GIGANTE CELEBRATES SPALDING GRAY

Real life has always let me down. That’s why I do the monologues. I have always said I would rather tell a life than live a life. But I have to live a life in order to tell one.                                                                 — Spalding Gray

Theatre Gigante opens its 31st Season with the telling of the life of Spalding Gray, in his words.  SPALDING GRAY: STORIES LEFT TO TELL is a delightful, moving tribute to the life and work of this acclaimed and groundbreaking writer/monologist/actor.

Consisting of material from Gray’s journals, monologues and letters, this revealing homage, put together by his widow Kathleen Russo and director Lucy Sexton, is divided into five voices: Journals, Adventure, Love, Family, and Career – in the words of Russo, ‘the five things most important to Spalding.’

In this production, Journals will be played by Deborah Clifton, Adventure by Mark Anderson, Love by Isabelle Kralj, Family by John Kishline and Career by Jill Anna Ponasik.

SPALDING GRAY:  STORIES LEFT TO TELL premiered Off Broadway in New York City to critical acclaim, in the year 2007.  When it closed later that year, Theatre Gigante received the rights to perform it.  It is with great pleasure that Gigante Artistic Directors Kralj and Anderson – who directed this production – open Gigante’s 31st Season with this exquisite found poetry, reshaped into a poignant and heart warming new theatrical piece.

About Spalding Gray
Spalding Gray, who died in 2004, was best known for his monologues, SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA, MONSTER IN A BOX (performed in Milwaukee in 1992), GRAY’S ANATOMY, IT’S A SLIPPERY SLOPE, and MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT – several of which were made into films.  In addition to his career as a solo performer, he also acted in theater, film and television, and was a founding member of The Wooster Group, a renowned experimental theatre company in New York.

About Theatre Gigante
Now in its 31st year, Theatre Gigante enlivens the local performance scene with its unique style of theater.  Gigante brings original theater to the stage and has a strong history of dynamic collaborations with locally, nationally, and internationally known musicians, visual artists, composers, and performers. Besides Milwaukee, it has appeared in Chicago, NYC, Boston, North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan, Kohler, and Slovenia, EU.  The theatre of big ideas, critically-acclaimed Theatre Gigante is exciting, challenging, and fresh.

The Artistic Directors Isabelle Kralj and Mark Anderson are first and foremost storytellers, and they use their eclectic backgrounds to bring many styles and genres to their finished products.  Their work has an innovative signature style, combining and seamlessly flowing back and forth between text, dialogue, movement, dance, music, and, at times, video.  Apart, and together, they have created over 60 theater pieces.

ABOUT THE CAST
ISABELLE KRALJ
is the Founder and Artistic co-Director of Theatre Gigante.  She has an MFA in Dance, and has performed with Milwaukee Ballet and the Slovenian National Theater Ballet, among others; directed theater for Gigante, First Stage Milwaukee, Theatre X, and Theatre for Young Audiences and a gazillion Gigante productions; and choreographed for the National Ballet Artists of Slovenia, and just about all the local arts organizations including Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Florentine Opera, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, and First Stage Milwaukee.

MARK ANDERSON, Artistic co-Director of Theatre Gigante, has been writing and performing monologues, plays and performance art pieces, for forty years, mostly in Milwaukee, and elsewhere in the U.S., from Seattle to LA, to Houston, New York City and Grinnell, Iowa – where much of this began. In 1996, he began working with Isabelle, co-creating IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, and since then they‘ve written, developed and produced loads of productions for Gigante.

A Gigante regular, JOHN KISHLINE has been an actor, director, playwright and designer in theatre for 41 years. He has performed nationally and internationally, has written 11 plays and helped create at least 30 more, was a founding member of Theatre X, and has performed for Next Act Theatre, the Milwaukee Rep., Chamber Theatre, First Stage and others; also, the Madison Rep., Goodman Theatre, Seanachai Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Project.

A frequent performer with Theatre Gigante, DEBORAH CLIFTON was a part of Theatre X for decades and has also performed regionally at Milwaukee Shakespeare, First Stage, Milwaukee Rep, Chamber Theatre, Next Act Theatre, Madison Rep, The Goodman Theatre-Chicago and Chicago Shakespeare.

Appearing for the first time with Theatre Gigante, JILL ANNA PONASIK is the Producing Artistic Director of Milwaukee Opera Theatre and the Artistic Associate of Skylight Music Theatre. As a performer, she has appeared in productions with Nautilus Music-Theater, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Skylight Music Theatre, VocalEssence, Theatre Latte Da, Skylark Opera, Ohio Light Opera, Bronx Opera, New Dramatists, Alchemist Theatre, and Milwaukee Opera Theatre among others.  Jill Anna holds degrees from the University of Minnesota and the Rice University Shepherd School of Music.

THIS PRODUCTION 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.

____________________________________________________________

 

SPALDING GRAY:  STORIES LEFT TO TELL

Words by Spalding Gray
Concept by Kathleen Russo & Lucy Sexton
Directed by Isabelle Kralj & Mark Anderson
Scenic Design by Rick Graham and Ron Scott Fry
Lighting Design by Rick Graham

Cast:
Deborah Clifton
Mark Anderson
Isabelle Kralj
John Kishline
Jill Anna Ponasik

____________________________________________________________

PERFORMANCE DETAILS

One weekend only!                                       November 15 – 18, 2018

November 15                        7:30pm            w/post-show reception
November 16                        7:30pm           
post-show talkback*
November 17                        7:30pm
November 18                        2:00pm           
post-show talkback*

*Both post-show talkbacks will include a discussion on brain trauma and how it can lead to depression and even suicide, which is the case with Spalding Gray and his tragic death.

Tickets: $25 General;  $20 Senior;  $15 Student
Brown Paper Tickets
1.800.838.3006
gigantespalding.brownpapertickets.com

For more information call: 414-961-6119
or go to
Theater Gigante’s website, www.theatregigante.org

 
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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

TARZAN

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.

About TARZAN
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

TARZAN

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

 

Tickets
Brown Paper Tickets:  1.800.838.3006
or
gigantetarzan.brownpapertickets.com

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

to download the press release, click here

METAMORPHOSIS press release

THEATRE GIGANTE, celebrating its 30th Season,
presents
METAMORPHOSIS
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

 METAMORPHOSIS
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

Tickets:
Brown Paper Tickets  1.800.838.3006
gigantemetamorphosis.brownpapertickets.com

to download the press release, click here

Theatre Gigante’s 2017 Holiday Newsletter

 

WITH GRATITUDE, WE LOOK BACK AT HOW
GIGANTE SPENT 2017 WITH YOU!

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

 HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

 

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

THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

30th ANNIVERSARY SEASON

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
THE WAY THINGS GO


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: giganteway.brownpapertickets.com

Wisconsin Gazette preview for The Way Things Go

check out this great preview from the Wisconsin Gazette