Jack Frisch

Jack Frisch Professor, Communication and the Arts 1992

Photo: Jack FrischJack Frisch, 84, Green Bay, passed away Tuesday April 30, 2013. Born in Black River Falls on January 30, 1929, he is the son of the late Jack and Marion (Galston) Frisch. Jack graduated from West High School the class of 47'. After graduation he got on the Caboose of the Green Bay and Western Railroad as far as he could before he hitchhiked his way to New York. Jack served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War from 1948-1952, and was honorably discharged as a Sergeant. He married the Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

Jack is a graduate of UW- Madison, where he received degrees through the doctorate. He joined the UW System faculty in 1958 at the UW-Fox Valley Center, taught at UW-Madison while pursing his Ph.D., and came to the UW Center- Green Bay faculty in 1962. When the center became a four-year institution in 1968, Jack was appointed the first chair person of the UW-Green Bay theatre program. Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

During his teaching career, Jack has taught the full array of courses in theatre production and dramatic literature as well as courses in interpersonal communication and festivals and games, during which he introduced this area to the earth ball and other non-competitive " new games." His teaching also included courses in the American Indian Studies program at UW-Green Bay. Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

Long an advocate of a creative approach to tasks and to ensemble performance in group theatre, Jack in 1972 served as a workshop leader at an international symposium on new methods in educational drama held in the Netherlands. He also led workshops at Princeton University, American University in Washington D.C., and the University of California-Berkley. As a recognized Samuel Beckett scholar, he was invited to present a paper at the 1991, Beckett Symposium in Monaco. Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

Jack is known for his interest in avant-garde and experimental theatre. Over his career he has directed more than 100 plays in campus and community theatre productions, most for UW- Green Bay, Harlequin Players or Green Bay Community Theatre. Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

Jack was always involved in ecology and fought against discrimination. Many of his plays reflected this (Seven Arrows, People All Around). Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

His was a full life; always learning and with curiosity and dedication to whatever he was doing. As a child and adult he enjoyed his Tank Park and school affiliation. He had broad interests such as flying, astronomy, trumpet, baseball, and bicycling to the YMCA. He loved his family with the same intensity. Summers were spent with the entire family exploring the continental U.S. Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

Jack is survived by his wife of 57 years, Rachel; three children, Paul (Miriam) Frisch of Rochester Hills, MI, Rae Ann Frisch of Green Bay, and James (Cheryl) Frisch Yukon, OK; seven grandchildren, Michael, Adam, Joel, Zachary, Brittany (Jacob), Jessica, and Levi; one sister, Sally (Gerald) Proctor and one sister-in-law, Mary Maus; many nieces and nephews. Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

He was preceded in death by his parents; one brother Donald (Roberta "Doodles") Frisch, and one infant grandson, Samuel. Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

Visitation at MALCORE (East) Funeral Home University Ave at Baird St Saturday, May 4, from 9:00 AM until the time of the memorial service at 11:00 AM. Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

Please visit www.malcorefuneralhome.com to send online condolences and to sign the register book. Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

Bachelor of Arts, Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1957 Master of Arts, Theater and Speech, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1959 Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

Post-graduate work at Stanford University Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

Doctorate, Theater and Speech, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1965 Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

The family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff of the third floor Aurora Baycare Medical Center and Dr. Raul Mendoza. Rachel Van Den Heuval on April 8, 1956, in Yonkers, NY. 

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, memorials can be sent to the UW-Green Bay Scholarship Fund in memory of Jack Frisch: Cofrin Library 805,2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay, WI 54311-7001 ”

(Reprinted with permission from Rhonda Raleigh, Executive Assistant to the President and Publisher,Green Bay Press-Gazette.) 

Frisch remembered as Theatre pioneer, beloved teacher

(Published April 30, 2013, Log newsletter, UW-Green Bay)

It is perhaps telling that Prof. Emeritus Jack Frisch bookended his storied UW-Green Bay career by directing Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” 

After all, Frisch was well known for pushing the theatrical envelope, and “Godot” is renowned as a groundbreaking work in the so-called “Theatre of the Absurd.” It didn’t adhere to conventions — and neither did he.

“It was a time of protest, and there was a school of thought that college theatre should be stretching limits, pushing the envelope,” Fritsch said in a 2009 interview with UW-Green Bay News. “I thought we should do provocative works here, too.”

Presenting those works became one hallmark of a storied University career for Frisch, who embraced the unconventional on stage and in the classroom. His three decades at UW-Green Bay began before there was a UW-Green Bay — he joined the faculty of the UW Center-Green Bay in 1962.

Frisch, 84, a University theatre pioneer and beloved professor, died Tuesday (April 30) at a Green Bay hospital.

“I’ve always looked at theater — for my casts, myself and audiences — as entertaining, but more than entertaining,” Frisch told Green Bay Press-Gazette critic Warren Gerds in 1992. “It seems to me that theater, especially for the cutting edge of it, has important things to say to us human beings, as social creatures.”

Frisch explored those statements in a variety of ways after helping found the collegiate theatre program at UW-Green Bay in the late 1960s. During his career, he directed more than 100 plays in campus and community theatre productions, most for UW-Green Bay, Harlequin Players — a local troupe he founded — or UW-Green Bay Community Theatre. Credits include Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” Tennessee Williams’ “Summer and Smoke,” Kurt Vonnegut’s “Happy Birthday, Wanda Jane,” William Saroyan’s “Beautiful People,” “Ashes” by David Rudkin, and the Peter Weiss play “Marat/Sade.”

But for UW-Green Bay Theatre and Dance Prof. Jeffrey P. Entwistle, it’s Frisch’s original production, “Gaia Gaea,” that stands out all these years later. Entwistle, a longtime friend and colleague, recalled Tuesday how Frisch created the production with his cast and designers through an experimental rehearsal process.

“It was an otherworldly piece that began with this creative team’s own version of creation and involved the research of petroglyphs and the creation of petroglyph imagery in sand on the stage,” Entwistle said. “It was a performance that took us through the development of man and the mother earth.

“It was such a striking and original performance and the brainchild of a colleague who had a love of the earth and the environment, a love of  the theatre, and great love for his students and their creative potential.”

Frisch often focused on theatre with a social conscience, Entwistle said, and reveled in the writings of the late Czech writer, dissident and politician Vaclav Havel. And of course, he loved experimental theatre.

Consider 1968’s “King Ubu,” a UW Center production staged just months before the four-year UW-Green Bay campus was set to open. Described in a 2009 edition of UW-Green Bay’s Insidemagazine as a bawdy, “free-form ‘happening’ overflowing with chaos and broad humor,” the show greeted theatregoers with “costumed actors doubling as ushers or milling about, hurling rolls of toilet paper at one another.”

One of those theatregoers, unrecognized to all but Frisch, was founding UW-Green Bay Chancellor Edward Weidner. Frisch, the story recalls, “watched with interest as Susan Sloan, the actress playing the padded, outrageously-bosomed Mother Ubu, escorted the new chancellor to his seat … and promptly jumped in his lap.”

Frisch couldn’t see Weidner’s reaction from where he sat, he recalled. “Me?” Frisch said. “I was laughing my head off.”

Frisch never heard a word from Weidner about the incident — and so he kept stretching limits and pushing the provocative, the unconventional and avant garde

Frisch also was known for bringing an element of the unexpected to his classroom, where he taught an array of courses in theatre production and dramatic literature, as well as courses in American Indian Studies (now First Nations Studies) and interpersonal communication (an intro course was lovingly dubbed “Touchy-Feely 101”).

Frisch taught courses on festivals and games, and is credited with introducing students and the larger Green Bay area to “Earth Ball” — played with a six-foot-wide ball and a focus on cooperation, not competition — and other innovative games. His style resonated with those he taught.

“One of my favorite memories will be watching Jack during graduation ceremonies,” Entwistle said, “as I had never seen so many students smiling and saying thanks to a professor as they would march by, and I realized how many lives he touched through his interpersonal communication classes.”

And in so many other ways.

“Although I now have come to the realization that he will no longer pop his head in my office door to have a chat,” Entwistle said, “the memories of the work and many conversations and time we spent together will never leave my mind.”

And though Frisch was known for the offbeat, it was the quote of a more traditional playwright his passing brought to Entwistle’s mind Tuesday.

“Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

— William Shakespeare, Hamlet

A service for Jack Frisch will be held from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, May 4, at Malcore Funeral Home, 701 N. Baird St., Green Bay, WI 54302, just off University Avenue.

Name Title Date Retired Date Died