“The Last Cyclist” performed at Stritch through unique collaboration

March 12, 2019

In an unprecedented partnership, Cardinal Stritch University’s Theater program, the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC) and the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center presented the Milwaukee premiere of The Last Cyclist in April. Eight performances were held at the Nancy Kendall Theater in the Joan Steele Stein Center for Communication Studies/Fine Arts on the Stritch campus.

In the Milwaukee premiere, Stritch students worked alongside professional actors and theater artists for a unique and powerful presentation.

Reconstructed and reimagined by Naomi Patz, The Last Cyclist is based on a 1944 cabaret, written by Karel Svenk in the Terezìn Concentration Camp, located in the Czech Republic. The scathing satire was shut down before it could be performed, not surprising given its not-so-subtle political and emotional commentary. In this unique and provocative performance, audience members are invited inside the makeshift rehearsal space to bear witness to a show that was never performed. For more information about the play, visit

"The Last Cyclist is both a unique and important artistic experience,” said Mark Boergers, who directed the play and is chair of Stritch’s Theater program. “It gives us the opportunity to go further than depicting the horrors of a time like the Holocaust, but also represent the creativity and resilient spirit that existed despite of it. In the extreme degradation of the Terezìn camp, the artists of The Last Cyclist devised a comedic, yet scathing political satire that epitomizes art's role in resistance. This is a unique opportunity for our students that will have an impact on them as actors and, just as important, as people."

An opening night gala on Thursday, April 4, featured a Question and Answer session with Playwright Naomi Patz and Boergers following the performance. 

Partnership creates unique preparation
The innovative partnership led to a unique preparation for the cast, crew and production team. Milwaukee resident Howard Melton (shown at left) shared a first-hand account of surviving the Holocaust and his commitment to spreading hope each day. The visit provided an opportunity for all involved in the Milwaukee production to learn about the world in which The Last Cyclist took place.

Additionally, Dr. Dan Haumschild, the HERC Holocaust Education Fellow, shared his expertise as the cast researched their respective roles in the play.

“The Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC) has been working in tandem with Cardinal Stritch University over the last few years to create meaningful opportunities for students and community members to learn about the Holocaust,” said Haumschild. “The production of The Last Cyclist constitutes the pinnacle of this partnership. Inside the production we have students, educators and professionals cooperatively addressing a complex topic by honing their craft and breathing life into a vital work of art. In turn, they have created a magical experience for community members who will be transformed by this immersive show. The Last Cyclist has already initiated a vibrant conversation on Stritch's campus, and the strength of this partnership will enable such dialogue to impact broad segments of southeastern Wisconsin.

The Last Cyclist media coverage

Ryan Jay Reviews
Facebook Live interview with Mark Boergers 

The Small Stage
Q&A with Mark Boergers on the Last Cyclist

Riverwest Radio
WXRW Theater Spotlight: The Last Cyclist

The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
Play written in Terezin Ghetto – but never performed ­– to see light

WTMJ Radio
Mark Siegrist interviews Marcee Doherty-Elst

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
In April in Milwaukee, see a show with pixie dust or healing power

Catholic Herald
Cardinal Stritch Presents The Last Cyclist

Shepherd Express
Cardinal Stritch Offers Heroic and Absurdist ‘The Last Cyclist’

'The Last Cyclist' playwright Naomi Patz interviewed by Eden Checkol

The Morning Blend on WTMJ-TV 4
An Absurdist Cabaret Exploring a Dark Time Period

WUWM Radio
'The Last Cyclist': A Banned Cabaret From The Terezín Ghetto Finally Reaches Audiences

Banned Cabaret Blends Humor with Horror

Scapi Magazine podcast
Interview with Daniel Johansen and Maureen Smith

Wisconsin Theater Spotlight
'The Last Cyclist resurrects Nazi-era Holocaust satire

Play On Milwaukee
A Message from Terezin

Shepherd Express
‘The Last Cyclist’ Affords a Unique Holocaust History

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