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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: gigantelaugh.brownpapertickets.com
HERE’S WHAT YOUR SUPPORT OF GIGANTE CREATED IN 2016!
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.
-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!
-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.
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
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:
P.O. Box 1999
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1999
THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
The opening night of QUORUM performed by Theatre Gigante last night was precisely the remedy I needed to wash away the intense “yuck” of yesterday’s news cycle. Mark Anderson’s script should be produced all over the country, stat. A big thanks to the cast for a night of comedic therapy.
Recommended with delighted enthusiasm.
TIMELY STUFF! Very entertaining, thought provoking, and a little dark. Apropos of the political season, but WAY funnier and saner. I enjoyed it greatly. Check it out!
Still pondering … It was a MOST interesting experience — funny, poignant, sad, almost believable.
Group dynamic writ large in this clever, quirky, funny, very entertaining and well-acted production of QUORUM by Theatre Gigante. What’s not to love about this playwright and cast?? Don’t miss it!
Timely, funny, and extremely well done.
What makes the play so much fun was that it takes away from what we’re hearing every day but brings the significance of the modern political scene (and actually, any kind of group/community endeavor) home by paring it to its essence. And, at its essence, it seemed very much a play about how we treat other human beings. The appreciative audience was laughing on the outside….but we shook our heads ruefully on the inside at the seven characters’ quirks and vulnerabilities. Such insight. SEE IT!
It is a brilliant play that deals with universal human relationships, funny, thoughtful and beautifully acted. The venue, Plymouth Church, is very nice, as well. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Still smiling after attending QUORUM last night! Playwright Mark Anderson captures the inanity, humor and posturing of modern politics with deft wit and cutting insight.
Theatre Gigante’s ‘Quorum’ of Satire, Frustration
By Russ Bickerstaff
The characters in Theatre Gigante’s production of Mark Anderson’s Quorum form a cozy ensemble of local theater veterans. Anderson is first to arrive, playing a fragile, silent giant named Sammy. Next is Gigante co-founder Isabelle Kralj as Vivian, a comically contemptuous and domineering figure who quickly takes control as the rest of the ensemble arrives. Leslie Fitzwater is warmly ingratiating as Sylvia, someone very cautious of upsetting anyone else. Ron Scot Fry tenderly plays a dreamer named Martin.
Everyone in the room seems more or less in favor of coming together as a group except the charmingly surly Abner played by Michael Stebbins. Will resolution come in the form of a lab-coated Bo Johnson as a secretary with perfect penmanship? What of the mysterious arrival of Roberta, a relatively silent woman made all the more mysterious by the very expressive eyes and postures of Jocelyn Ridgely in the role?
Anderson’s comedy of petty unproductive action is particularly potent in an election year marked by incompetence on nearly every side of every political issue imaginable. The satirical sharpness is overwhelming as we watch in horror a group of people seemingly incapable of getting even the smallest thing accomplished. In a theater setting, it’s something we can all safely laugh at. In the context of the world around us, Quorum is delightfully upsetting. It’s the most fun you’ll have being frustrated in a theater this year.
Russ Bickerstaff of the Shepherd Express writes:
Quorum and Silence and Frustration
By Russ Bickerstaff
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 a play called Quorum. It starts in a silence as Mark Anderson walks out of a door and into the room upstairs at Plymouth Church. A tall man walks into a room with folding tables and folding chairs and proceeds to find the most comfortable place in which to sit. He’s sitting in silence at the beginning of a show he has written. In writing it, he’s said everything that will be said in the play. As it runs, he says very little. There’s something sweetly symbolic that can be read into that. So much can be read into Quorum. Stripped of any context, we have a group of people discussing matters in folding chairs and folding tables. We see them try to relate to each other in a maddeningly awkward crawl of progression. There’s a great deal of time spent in the early going deciding whether or not all of the people in the room even want to be in a group at all. All we can do is laugh.
There’s an arch in the ceiling of the room the play is being presented in. It does subtly crazy things with the acoustics in the room that amplify the awkwardness and discomfort of the piece itself. The piece itself is about people and the decisions they make. As I say, there’s no context for it. We don’t know why these people are in this room or why they’ve decided to be so formal with each other. We don’t know why there’s coffee in the second act and we don’t know why Bo Johnson is wearing a lab coat while playing a guy named Sidney who evidently excellent penmanship.
We don’t know why Vivian is so pushy and manipulative. She’s played by Isabelle Kralj with strange modulations and manipulations. She silent through some of the show too. In character her silence is a lot more overpowering than Mark Anderson’s. It’s positively overwhelming.
We know that Michael Stebbins is playing a character named Abner who wants to be a part of the group without being part of the group. He’s a gruff presence onstage and we don’t know why. We know that he’s particularly upset with Vivian and the way she’s treating others, but we don’t know exactly how that conflict is going to play-out.
We don’t know why Sylvia seems like such a nice person, but Leslie Fitzwater does an excellent job of being nice in the role. She’s very quiet and considerate, but there’s a down side to that: she seems to be avoiding confrontation. That makes the group dynamic a bit awkward.
We don’t know how Martin’s dream of wheat and bread and butter means, but since it’s delivered through the voice and distinctive stage presence of Ron Scot Fry, we know that it sounds important without sounding ominous. (Ron Scot Fry is good at that sort of thing. He’s a really satisfyingly complementary presence to Fitzwater as Sylvia.)
We don’t know why Jocelyn Ridgely is the last to show up. She’s playing a character named Roberta. We don’t know why Roberta is there but we know that she seems to want to leave. She seems incapable of leaving.
There’s no question that there’s frustration over the fact that nothing seems to be getting done for all those reasons why nothing seems to be getting done. 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 in the abstract, maybe it can help us understand it in a way that might allow us to make some kind of progress. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something just watching a show that is fun because it’s frustrating.
But I don’t know why.
Anyway. It’s a fun show and a delightful way to ease up on the frustration of another presidential election. Anderson’s script is quite clever.
QUORUM is a play about a bunch of people, fumbling around in an attempt to organize themselves into a group of people. They struggle with the basics of democracy: voting, equality, and fairness, and always go away with a hint of promise to maybe try again tomorrow. The seven characters are clown-like, in a way, and the play is full of humor.
QUORUM had three primary sources of influence and inspiration: monkeys, politics, and Robert’s Rules of Order.
I believe my initial inspiration was the social behavior of monkeys, explained to me by a television documentary I watched several times, plus research visits to “Monkey Island” at the Milwaukee County Zoo. (In fact, “Monkey Island” was a working title, at one time.) I started imagining people behaving like the monkeys I’d been studying, and scenes and dialogue began to emerge.
I began writing QUORUM in 1992, during the election campaign between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Campaign tactics, politicians’ behavior, and voter attitudes were an ongoing stream of inspiration and information as I was writing.
And somewhere along the way, I bought a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order, and those essential rules for running a meeting found their way into the story.
This play is a social/political satire, and looks at our world, which otherwise deserves a piercing gaze, with a light touch and humor. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the play as being a cross between Harold Pinter and Pogo. In other words, Pinter, a British playwright (the dark influence in my writing) meets Pogo, a comic strip I read when I was growing up, that brilliantly and fearlessly presented political and social satire with a lot of laughs!
I began writing QUORUM 24 years ago, in a very different era of politics and American society. Or was it? The characters – what they say and what they do – seem painfully familiar when we look at the bullies and buffoons of our current, ongoing political campaigns. Are we still this bunch of slightly inept strangers?
September 22, 2016
for tickets and show schedule, follow this link.
QUORUM, a play by Gigante Artistic co-Director Mark Anderson, opens October 7, at Plymouth Church, on Milwaukee’s East Side.
A social/political satire, first produced in Milwaukee in 1993 by Theatre X, takes a look at democracy in the hands of the people. A bunch of strangers meet in a room, and attempt to form themselves into a group, which turns out to be not so easy. Votes are split 50/50, not everybody fully appreciates the responsibilities of being a member of the group, the whole thing seems to be run by bullies and buffoons….
As we surveyed the current political landscape, Theatre Gigante decided to dust off our copy of QUORUM and see if it is still relevant. It is. Perhaps even moreso than it was 23 years ago.
Our new production features a cast of Gigante veterans: Leslie Fitzwater, Michael Stebbins, Bo Johnson, and Isabelle Kralj & Mark Anderson, plus some wonderful newcomers, Ron Scot Fry and Jocelyn Ridgely.
The second stop on this season’s “Gigante Tours Milwaukee” series, QUORUM will be performed at Plymouth Church, 2717 E. Hampshire Street (two blocks East of UWM’s Mitchell Hall). It’s a very appropriate setting for a play about strangers meeting in a rented room, attempting to form a group.
For tickets and show schedule, follow this link.
GUY KLUCEVSEK in Concert
JUNE 17 & 18, 2016
Friday & Saturday, 7:30pm
Kenilworth 508 Theatre
1925 East Kenilworth, 5th floor
online at giganteguy.brownpapertickets.com
or call 1.800.838.3006