When Joel Gersmann died in 2005 at 62, Isthmus declared that "an era had ended." He had headed Madison's Broom Street Theater for 36 years, amusing and alienating, blending banality and brilliance. Gersmann was driven and uncompromising, the artist as provocateur.
"At their best, Gersmann's plays were politically trenchant, raucously funny and wildly inventive," noted Dean Robbins in that remembrance. "They were also loud, wordy and in your face - much like Joel Gersmann himself."
Gersmann has been mentioned in nearly 300 Isthmus stories, as a source, subject or author. One of the first was a two-part series in 1976 on "the history of Broom Street Theater," which at the time had already reached the ripe old age of seven. This year it turns 42, and is as vital as ever.