The Great Bard - Improvised at South Milwaukee PAC

April 11, 2012

The nationally acclaimed improvisational troupe – The Improvised Shakespeare Company – will create a fully improvised play in Elizabethan style at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center (SMPAC) April 27. Based on one audience suggestion (a title for a play that has yet to be written), the show could be filled with power struggles, star-crossed lovers, sprites, kings, queens, princesses, sword-play, rhyming couplets, asides, insults, persons in disguise and all that we’ve come to expect from the pen of the Great Bard. The night could reveal a tragedy, comedy or history. Nothing is planned out, rehearsed or written. Each play is completely improvised, so each play is entirely new!

For those on the fence about Shakespeare, founder Blaine Swen explains, “Sometimes people are worried that our show will be too high-brow or inaccessible. Don't worry about that, we often look as much like Monty Python as like Shakespeare. As far as the improv goes, you are going to see some of the most accomplished improvisers in Chicago.”

The Improvised Shakespeare Company is the SMPAC’s Student Committee choice for the 2011-2012 Series. The Student Committee is compiled of South Milwaukee High School students who are responsible for booking, promoting and presenting one performance a year. The students chose The Improvised Shakespeare Company because the company puts a new twist on improvisation and offers a chance to see Shakespeare under a different and thrilling light.

The Improvised Shakespeare Company will perform Friday, April 27, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $15-$30 and may be purchased through the Box Office at 414-766-5049 or online at

In 2005, Blaine Swen founded The Improvised Shakespeare Company in Chicago. After a successful fall run on the Donny’s Skybox stage at The Second City the show was taken, at the request of Charna Halpern, to IO Chicago. It has consistently played to sold out houses for the last three years.

Now, The Improvised Shakespeare Company has found itself on the road, including a trip to the Piccolo Spoleto Fringe Festival in Charleston, SC, where The Improvised Shakespeare Co. was reviewed as one of the top shows in the festival! The group also frequents New York City performing limited engagements Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theatre where stars from SNL, Mad TV and The Office have been seen watching the show in amazement. In July, 2009, The Improvised Shakespeare Co. premiered in Canada at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival (also reviewed as one of the top shows to see), playing to standing room only houses and they were also part of the Just For Laughs TV broadcast playing in front of an audience of 2,500 people. In September 2009, The Improvised Shakespeare Co. played to standing room only houses at Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival. The group continues to branch out on the road and has dramatically expanded their touring for 2011-2012.

The South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center (SMPAC) provides the greater community with a creative, innovative and diverse exploration of the performing arts. Through the many opportunities offered, the SMPAC is bringing art to life on stage and to the lives of the people in the South Shore and surrounding communities. Located on the South Milwaukee 6-12 campus, the SMPAC serves as a creative outlet for the greater community, as well as the students of South Milwaukee.

Along with the nine-show Performing Arts Series, the SMPAC opens its doors to other presenters to bring such acts as Cantare Chorale, Tommy Emmanuel, John Hiatt, Ian Hunter, Joe Lovano and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. They also provide a home to the School District of South Milwaukee events as well as Grant Park Players, the local community theatre.

The South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center is located inside the South Milwaukee High School at 901 15th Avenue, South Milwaukee, WI between College and Rawson Avenues. It is easily accessible from I-94 and 794. Free parking is located in the northwest parking lot. Patrons should enter door #9. For tickets or directions, call 414-766-5049. For more information about the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, visit their website at

This performance is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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