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Stage RIght/ Stage Wrong

Back in 2017, Garbarski — who, coincidentally was just featured in a Capital Times story about Millennial burnout — was in two shows at once: Mercury Players Theatre’s production of “August: Osage County” and Broom Street Theatre’s “Dumpster Flower.”

That double booking was tricky, made significantly trickier when she fell off a boulder wall at a local indoor climbing gym and shattered her ankle on the first day of rehearsals for both shows.

“I had to call both directors from the emergency room,” she recalls. ” I couldn’t drive to rehearsals and I was on drugs to help kill the pain. It was like a waking nightmare. ”

Rather than turn to the understudies, Garbarski’s directors made accommodations to keep her in both casts. For “August: Osage County,” her character was simply put on crutches. By the time “Dumpster Flower” opened, Garbarski was able to limp around a little in a walking boot.

Broken bones can't keep Stacey Garbarski off stage

Stacey Garbarski, a 26-year-old actress and animal shelter resource counselor, first began feeling “burned out” in high school. Exhausted from balancing academics and theater, she claims she once nearly face-planted while walking down a hallway after dozing off mid-step.

After graduating from Edgewood College, Garbarski said there were times when she would work 80 hours a week — managing appointments and pet adoptions by day, and rehearsing for theater projects that made her little money by night, all while taking care of a special-needs pitbull at home. She said that she had a tough time saying “no” to new projects, and would sign up for multiple shows at once.

She began to find it tough to wake up in the morning to go to work, and to feel any kind of positivity about her job. She became easily angered, “blowing up” at cars that cut her off on the road. The chronic exhaustion became a weight that she would carry around on her shoulders, she said.

“You get relief when you are sleeping and when you are dreaming, when you are separate from what is going on in your current reality,” she said.

It was only a year ago that Garbarski began to learn vocabulary for what she was going through: She was feeling burnout, a psychological syndrome marked by feelings of exhaustion, detachment, insecurity and a deterioration of work performance caused by on-the-job stress.

Madison is home to many stories like Garbarski’s. In a city brimming with jobs in fast-paced and demanding fields like tech and health care, and with a growing population of career-driven young professionals who put a premium on hard work, cases of burnout are common.

The Cap Times, May 22nd 2019

"...Stacey Garbarski, the actor who’ll be playing Antigone, didn’t have much trouble embracing Zizek’s murkier take on the character.​"

"...Having a sharply different worldview than the character she’s playing is just another challenge for Garbarski, who’s been having several moments of late on the local theater scene. Her energetic turn in “Die, Mommie, Die!" and “Rhinoceros” buoyed both productions."

Broom Street actress plays against character

"Best at capturing the political moment: Rhinoceros, by Strollers Theatre

While many theater companies opted for light and frothy entertainment to distract us from new political reality, Strollers dealt with the Trump era head-on with an impressive production of the Ionesco play about people being swallowed up by an evil and insidious government."


"Greatest family reunion you don’t want to be part of: August, Osage County, Mercury Players

Under the direction of Dave Pausch, many of Madison’s best actors brought this sprawling family drama by Tracy Letts to life at the Bartell Theatre. Summoned home for a funeral, the siblings, in-laws and cousins engage in every kind of dysfunction imaginable. Like a car accident, you couldn’t stop staring at it. It was a harrowing — and amazing — night of theater."

Isthmus Review- December 2017

"As the story grows steadily more bizarre, the audience clings to the clear-eyed Berenger, portrayed by Stacey Garbarski in a knock-out performance. The energy and urgency she brings to the dizzying role propels the production forward and gives it focus. As her fear ratchets up, so does ours."

Beware the stampede

Isthmus-"Rhinoceros" review

"But it’s Garbarski, the Electra in this Gothic-Greek tragedy, who basically steals the show. No, let’s qualify that:  She attacks and body-slams the show like a rabid raccoon who just spotted a sirloin steak—and hey, she’s even got the streaky eye makeup to complete the metaphor. She leans into all the comic elements of her character’s egomania by growling, flouncing, hissing, wailing and sobbing to spectacular effect."

Madison Magazine

"...At nearly 50 years old, it is a Madison Staple. Their latest show, Dumpster Flower exemplifies their long-term success."

"...The first act wonderfully sets up the characters and relationships. From the "will they or wont they" relationship between the Stage Manager (played gregariously and spot on by Stacey Garbarski) and the Technical Director (portrayed wonderfully by Desmond Hawkins)"

Broadway World

"...and her rebellious teenage daughter Jean, portrayed with fragile confidence by Stacey Garbarski"

Isthmus-"August: Osage County" review

"Kudos, though, to Stacey Garbarski for her hilarious performance as the Virtues."

New York Times

"Virtues and Muses are also represented for good measure – Stacey Garbarski provides great comic relief portraying the multiple Virtues."

NY Theatre Guide

"The clear stand-out in this ensemble is Stacey Garbarski, who plays an endless collection of secretaries all with brassy excess. Garbarski’s characters, named "Virtues," all differ by one essential quality or another, yet each is somehow unbearably loud and gabby. The Virtues, and Garbarski’s dexterity, offer a much-needed familiarity..."

Theatre Is Easy-Review

'Several of the performances are spot-on, particularly Garbarski, who channels an authentic mix of anger, resentment and fear into her portrayal of a woman who knows loving the father of her child is a risk she probably shouldn’t be taking. Her dialogue is so fraught with emotion...'

Channel 3000

"Stacey Garbarski, a senior set to graduate soon, revels in the physical humor of the uncouth, ridiculous judge Adzak"

The Cap Times

Ms. Garbarski competed with hundreds of other nominated theatre students...

Student News

"Garbarski's constant fidgeting created the five year old of the twenty something performer - though her bright red cheeks helped convey that coy innocence"

Broadway World

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