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Improv troupe celebrates 10 years with free show

Improv troupe celebrates 10 years with free show

"I can still smell it. It was like rancid oil mixed with musty concrete."

That's the former artistic director of east-side-based Atlas Improv Co. describing the improv troupe's humble beginnings, which included holding classes in the dank basement of a Planned Parenthood. 

Neil Pohl now works in New York as a copywriter and studies improv at Magnet Theater. Pohl's been improvising for 14 years and was with the company in the beginning, when the group split from then ComedySportz Madison and founded Atlas.

On March 29 from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Atlas will present "PhatCamp: 10 years, 10 hours," a non­stop evening of improv offered up as a free event in celebration of the company's 10-year anniversary. 

Current artistic director, Kristina Martinez, credits the performers and the community for the group's decade of longevity.

Zoo welcomes 16-month-old lion Pelo

Zoo welcomes 16-month-old lion Pelo

Madison's Henry Vilas Zoo welcomed a new lion to its pride at an event Thursday morning. 

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi's office said Pelo (pronounced PEA-low) is a 16-month-old male African lion who joins the zoo from Seattle. 

The zoo's other lion, female Shakura, will exhibit with Pelo as a pair after they get to know each other and the weather warms, according to the zoo. Pelo arrived at the zoo months ago but was announced Thursday to the media during an event at the zoo, 702 S. Randall Ave.

“We really look forward to a number of years with Pelo and Shakura, and look forward to the day when they can get together and start producing their own cubs to continue to help our species preservation,” Parisi said.

Panel explores what it means to 'eat well'

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems hosted a panel discussion in UW-Madison’s Music Hall on Feb. 12 to reflect on the true meaning of eating well. Five panelists, including Odessa Piper, founder of L'Etoile, offered their thoughts. 

The other four panelists were Jim Munsch of Deer Run Farm in Coon Valley, Wis., UW Professor and Director of the Global Health Institute Jonathan Patz, Tony Schultz of Stoney Acres Farm in Athens, Wis., and Assistant Professor of Community and Environmental Sociology Monica White.  

Here's what each had to say:

Odessa Piper

Thirty-eight years after she founded L'Etoile in Madison, Piper lives in Boston where she cooks and writes about food. In 2013 Piper published a cookbook titled "The Market Kitchen," which is a guide to cooking with farmers market produce.  

Jewish organizations provide free Shabbat meals to students

It can be easy to get wrapped-up in the fast pace of this day and age, especially as a college student where the future is a constant concern. The weekly Jewish holiday Shabbat, the day of rest at the end of the week, is supposed to remind people to focus on what is truly important. 

Organizations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison like the Jewish Experience of Madison help spread this message by providing free Shabbat dinners for students every week.

JEM is a non-profit organization dedicated to Jewish education. It opened seven years ago, according to Shira Avitan, one of the JEM team members. Avitan and her husband, Rabbi Elie Avitan, moved to Madison from Israel where he was studying to become a Rabbi. This is their second year at JEM. 

Dobra's closure points to changes in Madison's tea, State St. business culture

Dobra's closure points to changes in Madison's tea, State St. business culture

On Dobra Tea’s last day in business, owner Adam Ernst invited the community to come visit the State Street shop to drink tea and shatter teapots from around the world.

The gesture offered him an opportunity to share some of the philosophies surrounding tea culture and to gain a sense of closure as the tea shop closed its doors Feb. 9 after five years in downtown Madison.

“Tea in general encourages us to embrace the imperfection in life, the impermanence in life, and thus smashing teaware is a kind of symbol to communicate to people,” Ernst said. “We need that sort of catalytic breaking, smashing and severing of all contacts in order to see and reunite them. Simply as a symbol of impermanence it seemed very effective.”

As a teenager, Ernst, a Madison native, discovered a passion for tea far from Wisconsin during a visit to the East Coast.

52-year-old UW bar gets 4-month makeover

52-year-old UW bar gets 4-month makeover

After four months of restoration, a bar inside the Memorial Union will reopen Monday. 

Der Stiftskeller, originally opened in 1962, has had its murals restored, pool tables moved in and the serving bar reborn out of a Terrace tree, those managing the the University of Wisconsin-Madison project said Wednesday at a sneak preview of the restaurant. 

In addition to its interior upgrades, the Stiftskeller will add a second window serving the Terrace. 

Murals first painted in 1978 were restored, recreated, or in the case of the "Battle of Beer and Wine" painting, relocated from the west wall to the south wall, the UW-Madison said. 

The renovations are part of phase one of the university's Memorial Union Reinvestment project, which kicked off in the summer of 2012.

Der Stiftskeller shares the bar with neighbor pub Der Rathskeller.