Running up that Hill – Isthmus


Parks on Tap: Disc Golf Pop-Up, Thursday, May 20, Token Creek County Park, DeForest, 4-7 p.m.: Perhaps you remember the Summer of George, in which the Seinfeld sidekick determines to read a book from start to finish and play a lot of disc golf. Believe us, we have been there. Want to try out the sport, and help the Dane County Parks? Head to this pop-up collaboration with Karben4 Brewing. Parks on Tap will open the disc golf course at Token Creek for free play, and you can refresh with beer or a non-alcoholic drink; 10 percent of sales will go back to the parks. Some discs will be available for checkout. Or just get a brew and listen to the music of the clanging of the chains.

Pheasant Branch Conservancy Day, Thursday, May 20, 6:30 p.m.: This program is part of a monthly third Thursdays series (currently taking place virtually) offered to enhance knowledge of the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. The speaker for May is Randy Hoffman, a retired DNR ecologist who is the author of When Things Happen: A Guide to Natural Events in Wisconsin, as well as the invaluable Wisconsin’s Natural Communities. Hoffman’s latest reveals the best times to view spring wildflowers, bird migrations, insect emergence, mammal birthing, and meteor showers, topics Hoffman will link to the Madison area. Free; register for the Zoom link.

Wisconsin Film Festival, through May 20: The beloved Wisconsin Film Festival was one of the arts losses at the beginning of the pandemic last year; scheduled for the first week in April, it was too soon after the shutdown for organizers to truly pivot to online viewing. This year, the Festival is online only, with films streaming through the app Eventive. The lineup of films, as usual, is impressive, not the least of which is the excellent showing of 37 films in the Wisconsin’s Own category. Read Linda Falkenstein’s recommendations here, and peruse the complete guide at All films are available for viewing throughout the duration of the festival, but it’s time for your last minute selections; the fest ends on May 20.

SPAYghetti No Balls Dinner, Friday, May 21, 3:30-7:30 p.m.: Dogs and puns: It can be ruff going sometimes. However, the Spay Me! Clinic’s SPAYghetti No Balls Dinner is a pun with a purpose. The event supports the clinic’s affordable veterinary care and Spay It Forward program, reducing the homeless pet population by providing access to affordable spay/neuter procedures. This year, the annual spaghetti fundraiser is a drive-through version at 4475 Robertson Road. Spaghetti, handmade (vegetarian) sauce, bread, salad, beverage and cake are available in single servings, date night meals for two (this includes wine and glasses), or a family meal for four. Pawsta Pup delivery is available, too: an adoptable pooch will ride along with volunteers who will bring your meals to your door. See further details and order in advance via

Women of Distinction Leadership Awards, Friday, May 21, 7 p.m.: The theme of this annual YWCA Madison event is “Reimagining Community,” and as CEO Vanessa McDowell says in the promotional materials for the event, “We can now have our community extend wider because we will be virtual.” Join the event on YWCA Madison’s Facebook page and learn more about the work of Jannet Arenas Pineda, Dr. Roxie Hentz, Jacquelyn Hunt, Adrian Jones, Jenny Pressman and Nasra Wehelie, community leaders making Madison a better place to live for all. Donations can be made here.

Mantis, Friday, May 21, 7 p.m.: Madison-based Anders Svanoe is a modern master of the baritone saxophone, both as an improvisatory player and as a prolific composer of music anchored by the instrument. Mantis is a new project making its debut with a livestream concert, featuring Svanoe playing original compositions along with bassist Brad Townsend and drummer Nick Zielinski. A studio album by the trio is forthcoming. Find the livestream on the Arts + Literature Laboratory YouTube and Facebook pages.

Print & Resist, Saturday, May 22, various venues, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.: Print & Resist looks a little different this year. This sale and celebration of zines, DIY books and pamphlets, self-published posters, and other works of art and productions of presses of many kinds has been taking place at the Central Library for the past few years. This year, it’s taking the form of pop-ups at several Madison locations: ARTWORKING, 1966 S. Stoughton Road (prints); Communication, 2645 Milwaukee St. (zines); Garver Feed Mill, 3241 Garver Green (works by MP&R Playhouse & Lesley Numbers); and Giant Jones Brewing, 931 E. Main St. (works by Fresh Hot Press). Tabling will be done by the hosts and not the artists and vendors to help keep safe capacities. Check out the printing and support the artists.

Desires, Saturday-Sunday, May 22-23, Tyranena Brewing Company, Lake Mills, 2 p.m.: Stories of love, Roman soldiers, secrets and a sundial are all joined by one common thread in the Madison Shakespeare Company’s newest performances: human wants. “Desires” is a set of short comedies — two by Susan Glaspell and George Cram Cook and one by G.B. Shaw — presented by Madison Shakespeare Company. The Tyranena performances are first-come, first-served seating; dinner reservations are recommended for a future Paoli Schoolhouse performance (5 p.m. on May 30; call 608-848-6261).

Home Run Derby, Saturday, May 22, Warner Park Duck Pond, 2-4 p.m.: Think you can knock one out of the Duck Pond? Your time to shine is Saturday during a Home Run Derby hosted by the Madison Mallards. Contestants will be grouped by age (11 and under, 12-17, and 18 and up) and batters should sign up ahead of time. During the event, the Mallards and The Great Dane will also unveil a new brew, Home Run Hazy Mango IPA, which will be available only at the ballpark this summer.

Jerry Awards, Saturday, May 22, 7:30 p.m.: Following a most atypical school year, the Overture Center’s Jerry Awards is taking a different approach to recognize the state’s high school musical theater performers. Rather than highlighting productions, this year’s event features 20 individual performers selected from workshop series participants who submitted video auditions. All will perform a solo song for a livestream audience and review panel; the panel will select semifinalists and eventually two representatives to participate in the national Jimmy Awards in July. Find the livestream at  

Dane County Master Gardeners plant sale, Sunday, May 23, 5201 Fen Oak Drive, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Last spring was the year of The Yard, as there was so little else to do. This year, keep up the good work and add some more landscaping. The Dane County Master Gardeners plant sale features 1,200 sun or shade perennials and a limited number of vegetable starters for sale. A link to the Plant Sale Inventory is available here. The sale will take place at the Dane County Extension office at 5201 Fen Oak Drive Madison; due to COVID, only adults may attend; masks and social distancing are required. Cash or checks only.

46 Plays for America’s First Ladies, through May 23: Forward Theater is part of a world premiere for 46 Plays for Americas First Ladies, by Chloe Johnston, Sharon Greene, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Bilal Dardai and Andy Bayiates. It’s a multimedia, genre-defying assemblage of 46 short plays that do, in some sense, act as biographies to America’s first ladies, but are far more than that. The 100-minute show, performed live and filmed at the Overture Center, is available streaming on demand through May 23. Read Gwendolyn Rice’s review here. Tickets are available at, and ticket holders can also join scheduled talkbacks with the actors and directors, hosted via Zoom.  

Madison Public Libraries re-open, Monday, May 24, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.: Librarians have been figuring out how to get books, audiobooks, DVDs, music CDs and other materials into the public’s hands for more than a year now while facilities remained closed. At last, requesting material online and picking it up at an appointed time at the library is OVER. As of Monday, May 24, the doors will be open and browsing is back. All libraries except Monroe Street will be open weekdays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays noon-5 p.m. Monroe Street will be open Monday-Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Masks and 6 feet of distancing will be required, and handwashing frequently encouraged. Be sure to check out the brand new Pinney Branch, which had been open for just four days before everything shut down in March 2020. Find more info here.

Lunch for Libraries, Tuesday, May 25, 11:30 a.m.: This annual Madison Public Library Foundation fundraiser will take place virtually for 2021, and features author Carl Hiaasen. A former Miami Herald columnist, Hiaasen is perhaps best known for his series of comic thrillers set in Florida; the most recent, Squeeze Me, features Palm Beach, a post-pandemic world, and characters including a president and first lady who might remind you of some recent White House denizens. Lunch for Libraries benefits the Wisconsin Book Festival and children’s literacy programs. Tickets are $100 (or $125 with a WBF membership) and include a copy of the book; purchase online, or call 608-266-6318.

Jordan Ellenberg, Tuesday, May 25, 7 p.m.: Want to avoid math? In the 2014 best-selling book How Not to Be Wrong, author Jordan Ellenberg demonstrated just how quixotic a goal that is. Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy and Everything Else — the new book from Ellenberg, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Mathematics at UW-Madison — may sound even scarier to some of us. But never fear, my math-averse brothers and sisters; Ellenberg writes to encourage understanding by all. He will discuss topics from the new book with data expert Meredith Broussard during a livestream talk hosted by Mystery to Me; register here.

UW Family Gardening Days, through May 31: Get some dirt under your fingernails this spring. Whether you have access to a big yard, a community garden plot, or just a couple pots and some potting soil, all will find some information as part of UW-Madison’s annual Family Gardening Days, this year happening virtually throughout May. Visit to find self-guided activity plans for all ages and skill levels. This week’s live presentation (10 a.m., May 26, on Facebook) is a talk on natural journaling by Allen Centennial Garden Director Reba Luiken.

Serving the Community: Restaurants Doing Social Good, Wednesday, May 26, 6 p.m.: One thing that’s been missing over the past 14 months is conversation — both casual and weighty. JustDane’s JustConversations series encourages folks to talk about topics that matter. “Serving the Community: Restaurants Doing Social Good” features Madison food entrepreneurs and social justice advocates Carmella Glenn (Just Bakery), Alex Lindenmeyer (Short Stack Eatery), Francesca Hong (Morris Ramen), and Dave Heide (Liliana’s & Little John’s) talking with each other about the pandemic, just hiring practices, collaboration, and action items for the whole community. Register here for the Zoom link.

Kevin Kwan, Wednesday, May 26, 7 p.m.: The Wisconsin Book Festival is sponsoring this virtual visit by Kevin Kwan, author of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, an international sensation now available to read in more than 30 languages. Kwan will talk about his latest novel, Sex & Vanity, which introduces a new group of characters but remains set in the world of the ultra-rich — a fantasyland that clearly sparks the imagination of readers around the world. Registrants for the talk will get a bit of pampering, too, in the form of a free copy of the book.

Young Playwrights Festival, through May 30: Kids not only have wild imaginations but an innate sense of drama, and Children’s Theater of Madison’s Young Playwrights program encourages that. The participants (70 students from four area schools) have crafted their dramas, presented as staged readings directed and acted by professional theater artists and experienced actors. The collection of 10-minute plays is viewable on demand from through May 30, on YouTube; find the playbill at

Tommie Smith Awards, Thursday, May 27, 6:30 p.m.: A new collaborative event coordinated by Madison College and UW-Whitewater, the Tommie Smith Awards recognizes area athletes who are also working for positive change in their communities. The event is named for lifelong social justice activist Tommie Smith, who along with fellow medalist John Carlos made the world take notice with the “clenched fist” gesture at the 1968 Olympics. Smith will speak about activism as part of the livestream, honoring Maka Chikowero (West High School), Jonas Luskey Sanders (Madison College), Eduardo Saucedo (Madison College), and Armari Tucker (Middleton High School). Register here.

An Improbable Fiction, Thursday, May 27, American Players Theatre, Spring Green, 8 p.m.: The idea is “What would it be like to sit out the plague at a bar with your favorite Shakespearean characters?” Cheers to that. An Improbable Fiction, James DeVita’s original work from last year, uses language taken largely from Shakespearean texts to discuss the strictures cast by the plague (with echoes of our own pandemic). The show was first read via a Zoomcast last fall; now it’s time to hike up to the Hill Stage and see it live. Favorites Tracy Michelle Arnold (Cleopatra), Sarah Day (Mistress Quickly), Chiké Johnson, (Othello), Brian Mani (Falstaff), Melisa Pereyra (Juliet), and Ronald Román-Meléndez (messenger) are all on deck. Find tickets here; performances continue through June 26, and other showtimes this week are 8 p.m. on May 28-29; 1 and 6 p.m. on May 30; and 7:30 p.m. on June 1-3.

We hope it’s handy for you to find the Picks in a single weekly post. The individual Picks can still be found in the usual places online: collected here, and sprinkled throughout all the events.

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