The energizing legacy of Theatre X

By - Nov 11th, 2009 12:05 am
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Actors (and married couple) John Kishline and Deborah Clifton join Mark this week to talk about Theater X, the “fringe” Milwaukee theater that generated international acclaim and produced edgy, experimental theater for 30 years before shutting down in 2004.

John Kishline and Deborah Clifton, photos courtesy the actors

John Kishline and Deborah Clifton, photos courtesy the actors

John and Deborah discuss the founding of Theatre X at UWM in 1969 and how they each came to the company, the years of touring with Theatre X throughout the country and in Europe and the institutionalization in the company’s later years that they say resulted in artistic degradation. But while much has been made of the decline and fall of Theatre X, John and Deborah believe that a new breed of regional fringe and DIY theater groups are carrying the torch, including Milwaukee-borne Insurgent Theatre, Madison’s Nonsense Company and Bedlam Theatre in Minneapolis.

How do small, wily companies like Theatre X and Insurgent contribute to the wider ecosystem of a city’s theater community? Why do we need them? What would happen without them?

Listen now: Backstage with John Kishline and Deborah Clifton. You can subscribe to Backstage with Mark Metcalf through iTunes.

This is the second episode in our series on plays and players, largely writ, which began last week with our conversation about Brett Favre and continues next week with actor Todd Denning of First Stage Children’s Theater.

One thought on “PODCAST: The energizing legacy of Theatre X”

  1. Leslie Ladd says:

    As a Theatre major at UWM, in 1971, I auditioned for Theatre X. Unexpectedly, they also asked me to sing. Not having a traditional singing voice, I thought fast and sat down cross legged on stage, my wild red hair and all, and belted out a Yoko Ono song, not really that serious about it. When ended. Silence from the panel, then a burst of applause and ” far out” or “groovy” shout outs. I believe i was accepted but the next semester I went to France so didn’t get to live that dream out. But what a great story. I recently told Sean Lennon that his mom saved my ass!

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