Jennifer A. Smith


Carissa Dixon

Oscar Wilde dubbed "The Importance of Being Earnest" "a trivial comedy for serious people." I'm not sure that descriptor would fit Tom Stoppard's 1974 play "Travesties", even though it riffs on Wilde in many ways, from reprising some of Wilde's characters to sharing his glee with wordplay and clever aphorisms. Both are playing this summer at Spring Green's American Players Theatre. more

Aug 18, 2014 6:17 PM Stage


Zane Williams

"Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends," writes Joan Didion in her arresting 2005 memoir, "The Year of Magical Thinking". She returns to these phrases over and over throughout the book, as if by repeating them she can ultimately accept them. Through plain yet penetrating language, Didion explores both the rawness and the very ordinariness of grief. more

Jul 7, 2014 5:47 PM Stage


Chazen Museum of Art

Artists, like writers, often work in solitude. Sure, there are larger-than-life, highly public personalities (think Andy Warhol), but there are also plenty who are happy to hunker down in the solace of their studios and let their work do the talking. more

Jun 26, 2014 2:00 PM A & E


Carissa Dixon

Oscar Wilde's biggest hit, "The Importance of Being Earnest", might seem sexist to modern viewers if the men weren't every bit as foolish as the women. As it is, Wilde skewers both sexes in his takedown of the social pretensions of the English upper classes. The play is the first to appear on the outdoor Up-the-Hill stage at American Players Theatre this summer. more

Jun 15, 2014 5:18 PM Stage

One man's trash is another man's treasure, as the saying goes. Artists have been working with cast-off materials and found objects for about a century now, beginning with pieces like Marcel Duchamp's inverted bicycle wheel mounted on a wooden stool a more

May 29, 2014 2:00 PM A & E

Skulls have become such a commonplace motif these days that they seem drained of their meaning. Artist Jim Dine can be exempted from this insipid trend. For decades, Dine has immersed himself in skulls. more

May 22, 2014 2:00 PM A & E


Zane Williams

The new Forward Theater Company production, "Or," is set in Restoration England, but it's no fussy costume drama -- not by a long shot. Rather, it's a saucy and smart finish to the company's fifth season. During the opening night performance, the three-person cast quickly won over the audience with fine comic timing. The production runs through April 13 at Overture Center's Playhouse. more

Apr 2, 2014 6:27 PM Stage


Chazen Museum of Art

The latest exhibition by the Chazen Museum is a mammoth one, with an equally mammoth title: "Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3, Contemporary Native Art from the Northeast and Southeast". The traveling show organized by New York's Museum of Ar more

Mar 20, 2014 2:00 PM A & E

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art examines how surrealism and realism might not be total opposites in "Real/Surreal", a traveling exhibition on loan from New York's Whitney Museum of American Art (through April 27). This is a terrific show that more

Jan 30, 2014 3:00 PM A & E


Forward Theater Company

While artists can be notoriously temperamental -- at least in the popular imagination -- the Mark Rothko in John Logan's 2010 Tony winner, "Red", could win a prize for it. Self-righteous, rabidly opinionated and obsessed with what place he will occupy in art history, Rothko paces around his New York studio like a tiger in a too-small pen at the zoo. more

Jan 18, 2014 7:26 PM Stage

One of the great things about art is how it can reflect not only an artist's own time and experiences, but also enter into a dialogue with the history of art itself. A single work can call to mind a whole web of images and allusions. more

Jan 2, 2014 3:00 PM A & E


Chazen Museum of Art

It's been a strong year of exhibitions for the UW's Chazen Museum of Art, and there is a little time left to catch one of its most intriguing and unexpected offerings. "Mithila Painting: The Evolution of an Art Form" (through Dec. 1) features a style of painting that's unfamiliar to many. But even if it's new to you, you'll quickly be drawn in by intricate, stylized works with themes ranging from Hindu deities to contemporary social and political issues. more

Nov 22, 2013 9:17 PM A & E


Zane Williams

Some plays have an unfortunate tendency to package life a little too neatly: set-up, conflict, tidy resolution. No one can accuse Stephen Karam's "Sons of the Prophet", a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist for drama and the kickoff to the fifth season at Forward Theater Company (through Nov. 24), of such a sin. more

Nov 11, 2013 3:56 PM Stage

Visual artists in Wisconsin grapple with the often-solitary nature of making their work, plus a limited number of venues in which to show it. Viewing art offers the hope of discovering a new and compelling take on the world, the thrill of finding something one hasn't seen before. more

Oct 3, 2013 2:00 PM A & E


Carissa Dixon

When American Players Theatre, beloved for its open-air amphitheater, opened an intimate, indoor stage in 2009, company leadership gave several reasons for the new direction. It wasn't only about staging plays that would likely draw smaller crowds, but also about keeping core company staff creatively engaged and able to take risks. You could say that the Spring Green theater's new adaptation of Shakespeare's "Antony & Cleopatra" (through Oct. 20) is one of those creative risks. more

Aug 19, 2013 4:16 PM Stage


Carissa Dixon

"We are entitled to some direction," says Guildenstern, one half of a tragicomic duo, in the first act of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead". The American Players Theatre production of Tom Stoppard's existential riff on "Hamlet" (through Oct. 5) opened Saturday night in the Spring Green company's outdoor amphitheater. more

Aug 13, 2013 4:43 PM Stage

One of the pleasures of living in Wisconsin is its bounty of delights for locavores, from hoppy microbrews to rich cheeses and brilliantly colored produce at farmers' markets. But why limit yourself to just eating locally? It's rewarding to be a literary locavore, too. There's a fresh crop of books by Madison authors out this summer, including new titles by Susanna Daniel and Kelly Harms. more

Jul 18, 2013 2:00 PM Books

Budding writers have a chance to learn from Susanna Daniel and fellow Madisonian Michelle Wildgen (author of "You're Not You, But Not for Long" and the forthcoming "Bread and Butter") through their new joint venture, the Madison Writers' Studio. Classes begin this fall at both authors' homes and will include narrative nonfiction and two levels of fiction writing. more

Jul 18, 2013 2:00 PM Books

Every museum collection has its particular strengths. Local lovers of Japanese prints " or elegant design in general " are lucky that the UW Chazen Museum of Art has significant holdings of high-quality prints. The museum is showing off a recent purchase and some long-held prints in the exquisite "Gifts of the Ebb Tide: The Sea in Japanese Prints," (through Sept. 1). more

Jun 27, 2013 2:00 PM A & E


Eric Ferguson

For many local theatergoers, summer means grabbing the sunscreen and bug spray, packing a picnic basket and heading to American Players Theatre in Spring Green. While theater options are plentiful year-round, outdoor shows are a fleeting pleasure here in the frozen North. And though APT opened an indoor stage in 2009, its 1,148-seat, open-air amphitheater is still an integral part of the experience. more

Jun 6, 2013 2:00 PM Stage