WE THE UNDERCOUNTED

Baltazar De Anda Santana moved from Guadalajara, Mexico to the U.S. in 2000, making his way to Madison in 2008. He quickly made a mark on his new community, founding, in 2010, the Latino Academy of Workforce Development, which helps hundreds of Latinx students every year obtain their GEDs and train for jobs. That same year, the U.S. government was conducting its census count. Santana did not fill out the survey.

“I didn’t have documents, so I didn’t want to take any chances in letting the government know where I was,” says Santana. He also didn’t have a clue about the relevance of the census.

“I was never told about its importance or how it benefited me,” he says. “When you are emigrating from Mexico, your first priority is to get a job and make money so you can find a place in this country for yourself..."

SOMETHING OLD AND SOMETHING NEW

For 39 years, the International Festival has brought the world to Madison in the form of Taiwanese puppet shows, flamenco dances, Scottish bagpipes and myriad other cultural spectacles. With 39 performing artists from Dane County and more than 45 food and fair trade vendors, this year’s festival on Feb. 29 will be one of the largest so far. The packed schedule includes newcomers like Leslie Damaso, who performs traditional songs from the Philippines, and what is believed to be the festival’s first-ever Japanese performance with Beni Daiko’s taiko drumming...

PANTY PARTY

After two hours of drinking and dancing to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and other sing-along ear candy, 50 skimpily clad runners file out of Whiskey Jacks Saloon on State Street into the wintery, Midwestern air.

Costumes for Cupid’s Undie Run crew range from angel wings (and little else) to Wonder Woman onesies, American flag bras, skimpy caveman garments, and undies that read “I take my pants off for charity.” The goal on this Saturday afternoon is to run three-fourths of a mile up State Street and loop around downtown to raise funds to combat neurofibromatosis (NF)...

THE ROOKIE

Stephanie Schwartzkopf glides across the rink, kicking up shaved ice as she makes her debut as a hockey player. She can see her teammates on the Black Mirror hockey team pump their fists in support, but she can’t hear their cheers: Schwartzkopf is the Madison Gay Hockey Association’s first deaf player.

“I was so nervous before I joined,” says Schwartzkopf, who moved to Madison from Colorado in 2017 and joined the league in August. “I thought, ‘How are they going to receive me? How are they going to look at me?’ But when I joined, everybody connected with me right away. It didn’t matter who I was, deaf or not deaf. Everyone gets a lot of support here, no matter who you are.”...

STREET SCIENCE

Gliding thick brushes covered in browns, pinks, blues and silver across white walls, Melanie Stimmell Van Latum gives off a Bob Ross-like aura as she tackles her newest mural project. It’s study time at the Discovery Building, and all is quiet, except for the sounds of dripping man-made waterfalls and the splashing of the artist cleaning her acrylic-caked brushes.

“It’s looking pretty vintage right now with a more renaissance baroque style, but soon we’ll get to the fun stuff where everything is colorful and 3D,” says Van Latum. “But I also had to start with Mary Anning [an English paleontologist], because she’s my favorite.”...

HIGH-FLYING REUNION

For the first time, actors are taking flight in Overture’s Playhouse, with their eyes focused on that second star to the right. On Nov. 7-24, Forward Theater Company presents the Wisconsin premiere of For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday. It is the first time a flying rig has ever been used in the Playhouse. And it is also a reunion, on stage and off. Four of the founders of the 11-year-old company — Jim Buske, Michael Herold, Celia Klehr and Sam D. White — appear in the show...

COFFEE COALITION

There are some not so obvious things that separate civilian from military life. Take chewing gum and talking outside on a cell phone.

“We all would get in trouble for doing that and no civilian gets why that’s weird to us,” says Carla Winsor, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who is pursuing her doctorate in mechanical engineering at UW-Madison...

THE STEREOTYPES WE KEEP

It’s bold, real and wildly uncomfortable — the basic ingredients of a play created to spark debate. The Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning Clybourne Park, playing at UW-Madison’s Mitchell Theatre through Nov. 24, starts on a chipper note, with characters blithely debating origins of ice cream while dropping subtle hints of cultural ignorance. But it erupts into poisonous verbal sparring and screaming matches about racism, prejudice and fear. It’s a heavy performance to watch, let alone perform.

But UW-Madison’s theater department is doing the play proud...

IDENTITY PROTECTION

Paperwork, notaries and court hearings are just the preliminary steps in the extensive and expensive process of changing a first name. But Madison attorney Abby Churchill, founder and director of Trans Law Help Wisconsin, is working to make name changes — and gender marker changes — simpler for transgender and non-binary individuals. The project also plans to start offering financial help and emotional support in court for those with no one else in their corner.

“For people who change their last name through marriage, the process is a lot easier,” says Churchill. “There also isn’t the same type of stigma.” ...

ALL GROWN UP

Charlie Brown is a jock, Sally is a Wiccan, Lucy is incarcerated, Pig-Pen is a perverted germaphobe, Linus is a pothead, and Marcy and Peppermint Patty are snobs focused on sex and sneaking drinks into the school cafeteria. Oh, and Snoopy is dead.

StageQ, Madison’s queer-focused community theater company, doesn’t hold back on the torments of high school in their latest dark comedy, Dog Sees God, where the members of the Peanuts gang have to navigate the trauma that comes with being hormonal teenagers...

BIG TOP DREAMS

The audience whooped as Cuban aerial artists flew through the air held by only a leather strap around their heads. They screamed as performers from Romania shot crossbows at balloons with their eyes closed, the target only inches from their assistant’s head. The popularity of troupes like Venardos and Cirque du Soleil, which don’t use animals in performances, proves that human tricks are enough to enthrall an audience.

While in town, the members of the Venardos Circus had an important stop to make: Clown Kirk Marsh and silks artist Laura Gwendolyn Burch joined Venardos on a tour of the Madison Circus Space, a 10,400-square-foot facility scheduled to open in late October...

DUNGEON MASTER'S GUIDE

In the dungeon of “Mad Magic,” Cregory the paladin, Joan the dwarf artist, and Danny the escaped slave march through the darkness with four other magical comrades carefully clutching their axes, amulets and anxieties. Suddenly, slime drips on them. The seven warriors look up in horror to see slime monsters ready to pounce.

“That’s just gross,” says Andy Olson, who rolls his D20 dice for a counterattack. “I really hate these Jellies.”

REBELS WITH A CAUSE

Jet black Harley-Davidson motorcycles glisten in the hot summer sunlight outside of Waunakee’s Missouri Tavern. This is the meet-up place for Madison’s Marine Corps biker group, the Leathernecks. They’re getting ready to ride to Point Burger Bar for Bike Night, where motorcyclists from all around Madison gather on Wednesday nights...

DANCES WITH LIONS

Seventeen teams from across the country begin circling the arena, waving the red, blue, green, yellow, and pink flags of their Kung Fu schools. Hundreds of audience members cheer as Chinese lions wearing bells, sequins and lights dance in Monona’s Terrace’s Exhibition Hall for the opening ceremony of the Second National Dragon & Lion Dance Championships...

MAN ON A MISSION

The month of Ramadan has always been a “coming together” for Madison’s Muslim community.

Families spend May fasting, praying and worshipping together. With only three mosques in the Madison area, Muslim families here are tightly knit.

But in the wake of March’s New Zealand mosque shooting, this year’s Ramadan had a different mood — one of fear.

“Mosques have become a soft target for hate crimes,” says Masood Akhtar, a Madison Muslim and devoted anti-hate activist. “We never had to deal with this situation in the past. Even our families are having to decide which one of them will go to prayer.”...

SAFETY NETS NOT INCLUDED

For the past nine years, Mel Champer has participated in U.S. regional competitions and Pacific Northwest collegiate competitions. On May 4, at Boulders Gym in downtown, she hit a milestone, reaching the finals for the first time.

The achievement terrified her. “I have pretty severe performance anxiety so usually I just get panic attacks,” Champer says before the finals. “So when I heard I was in the finals I was like, ‘Oh shit! I did too well.’”...

TO SRI LANKA WITH LOVE

Cavinda Caldera and Sumudu Atapattu watched their home country get torn apart by years of violent civil war. When the Sri Lankan conflict ended 10 years ago, they thought the worst was over. But both flashed back to the war on April 21 when nine suicide bombers struck in Sri Lanka, killing more than 250 people at three Catholic churches, three hotels and a home in three different cities. An extremist group, National Thowheed Jamaath with ties to ISIS, claimed credit...

DERANGED, DISTURBED AND DEAD-ON

There’s no perfect algorithm for nailing a job interview, so sometimes it helps to take deep breaths, or at least many short ones. That’s exactly how Ned O’Reilly’s comedy, Dog Collar begins, with eccentric interviewer Mathias Foltynewicz (Jason Compton) red-faced and hyperventilating into a brown paper bag.

“Can we really ask them that question?” gasps Mathias.“Of course we can,” replies Jolyn Masters (Annie Jay). “‘Were your parents happy together?’ It says a lot about a person and what they’ve had to overcome.”...

LEAVING THE 'LIBERAL BUBBLE'

UW-Madison is a “liberal bubble,” according to long-time history professor John Sharpless.

“Openly disagreeing with people here is like pooping in the pool,” says Sharpless. “They turn around and give you this dagger look. I had Republican students in my classes who said they white-knuckled their way through discussions in other classes. They never felt they could say anything.”...

THE RHYTHM OF LOVE

It’s modern, it’s magical, and it’s all about that movement. Theatre LILA has reinvented the story of Romeo and Juliet, putting the hearts of two women in the middle of the story, creating a timeless romance for a new age. But what sets this show apart is the way director Jessica Lanius shows the overwhelming power of love through the art of dance...

TIMELESS LOVE STORY

While most of the lines have remained the same, Theatre LILA’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet departs from the original in one significant way. The company has revamped one of theater’s most iconic love stories for the gender-fluid generation, casting HJ (HeatherJane) Farr as a strong, short-haired Juliet and Kelsey Rodriguez as a soft and poetic Romeo.

“With everything that’s going on politically, this is very much a play about ‘love is love,’ and how to portray that in a way that does justice to same-sex couples,” says Rodriguez. “It shouldn’t be about gender. It should be about how you feel.”...

WINTER BIRDS

Six inches of ice, six inches of snow and winds of at least 10 mph. For David Fish, this means it’s time to hoist the sails — or, in this case, the kites.

“Snowkiting is how we get rid of our cabin fever,” says Fish, kiting fleet captain at Wisconsin Hoofers, a UW-Madison outdoor club. While most people might elect to stay inside on a windy, blizzardy day, Fish locks his boots into downhill skis, hooks himself into a size 10 wind kite and speeds around Lake Mendota...

HEAR THEM ROAR

At her eclectic, bohemian-styled apartment in downtown Madison, Tulin Waters, or “La Bomba,” sits with cocktail in hand with the women she refers to as her “cougar sisters.”...Les Cougars wants to put women over 35 in the entertainment spotlight and demonstrate that as they age, their confidence on stage — or around a pole — should grow stronger. “The beautiful thing about aging is becoming unapologetic for what you have,” Waters says.

FRACTURED FAIRY TALES: MYTHICAL CREATURES PLAY REVIEW

The myths of Medusa, Little Red Riding Hood, Scottish selkies, Daphne and Apollo, and others have been reimagined for the modern generation. And they speak deep truths about the women who have always been the backbone of these stories...

FROM THE BELLY OF THE BEAST

For its fifth annual social justice conference, UW-Madison’s School of Social Work wanted to hear from people who know the social work system better than anyone: those who have grown up in it...“This is our time to step out, not just saying that there is a problem, but asking ‘What are the ways we as social workers can actively change things?’” says Jenny Braunginn, field and faculty instructor for the UW-Madison School of Social Work...

STAGE MAGIC: FINDING NEVERLAND PLAY REVIEW

The lights dim as the sound of a fife begins to float up into the balcony. A single flickering light takes center stage, dancing back and forth and laughing while pirates, a crocodile and mermaids suddenly burst onto the stage. It’s a battle between Peter Pan and the infamous Captain James Hook. Suddenly, everyone on stage freezes and there’s a spotlight on a bearded man dressed in a tan, three-piece suit. The man looks around at the characters and remarks, “None of you should be here yet.”...

FIGHTING FOR THE FUTURE

Growing up in New York, Vic Barrett wanted to make a difference.

“I was always interested in human rights in the way any young, black, Latin American, queer, transgender person growing up in a very white community is interested — I just wanted to plug in and get involved,” says Barrett, who is a UW-Madison sophomore...And so Barrett eagerly joined a lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, which seeks to force the federal government to take action on climate change.

SCIENCE MEETS COMICS

It started with three friends meeting at a bar, where they taught themselves how to draw comics. UW-Madison graduate science students Khoa Tran, Jaye Gardiner and Kelly Montgomery met every Saturday in 2015 to doodle and digitize their art. But through word of mouth and social media sharing, those weekends of sketching evolved into what is now JKX Comics...

THIS TIME, IT WAS PERSONAL

Before this year, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin never spoke publicly about her mother Pamela’s opioid addiction. But after her mother died last year at age 75, Baldwin opened up about her family’s struggle with substance abuse. Tuesday night at her victory party at Monona Terrace, she told supporters that her mother gave her strength during the often ugly Senate race...

WHERE THE COYOTES ROAM

Gentle hints of rain tap on yellow-leafed trees as a cardinal’s chorus echos through the forest like surround sound at the Lakeshore Nature Preserve.

“This sound … I could fall asleep to it,” says freshman Destiny Medina, wet gravel crunching under her feet as she follows classmate Zach Ausavich through the preserve’s southwestern trails. “It’s just so peaceful.”...

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS: "IN GOOD COMPANY" SPOTLIGHTS VETERANS' ARTWORK

During her 2003 deployment with the U.S. Army in Iraq, Sgt. Yvette Pino was known, as she puts it, as “the soldier running around the desert with a paint bucket.” She was the unofficial “Division Artist,” a title she earned painting blast barriers, army vehicle doors and helipads.

“People probably thought I was crazy, chasing all those drivers down and yelling, ‘I need to paint your doors!’” says Pino. “But it really was my job. Other soldiers hated me because I got out of sandbag duty.”...

Please reload