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Obituaries - December 23, 2023

Arleen Kalenich Pace

Arleen Kalenich Pace was born February 26, 1948 to Nicholas Kalenich and Mary Kalenich (Pfiefer) of the greater Milwaukee area.

pg10bIn 1965 she graduated from Solomon Juneau High School and from there entered the active Theatre Arts Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

In 1971, Arleen joined Theatre X, Inc. and was a member for eight years. There she helped to create new, original plays, and was among the early group of actors, directors and designers who established Theatre X as a preeminent American Experimental Theatre Ensemble. The most famous member of the group was Willem Dafoe. It also included Flora Coker, John Schneider, John Kishline and Victor De Lorenzo.

Theatre X opened a theater in Milwaukee and toured new plays extensively across the United States and in Europe. Work in Europe included a six-year collaborative relationship with the famed Mickery Theatre that produced experimental works from all over the world.

In 1977, Arleen left to move to New York, where she created a one-woman show, “The Calamity Ruth Foose Show,” co-scripted with Jeff Weiss. She toured this show to multiple venues in Germany, Amsterdam and the United States.

In 1979, she went to work on Madison Avenue, hired by Jonathan Pace. He and Arleen married in 1983 in The Little Church on the Dunes in Southampton, Long Island.  A few years later, they bought a second home upstate in Worcester, New York, where Arleen founded the Tri Valley Players. She also taught acting at C.U.N.Y. and produced, directed and acted in multiple shows, and did some radio, film and television work.

In 2005, Arleen and Jon moved full-time to Ajijic. For 11 years they shared their time between lakeside and a home in La Manzanilla, where Arleen founded the Bare Bones Readers’ theater in 2010. 

The couple never returned north except for two weeks to sell their home in New York. 

At Lakeside Little Theater, Arleen was on the play reading committee from 2006 to 2012, co-directed “Bedtime Stories” and performed in “The Heiress,” “No Clue,” “Kiss me Kate,” “Office Hours” and “Caught in the Net.”

In 2018, with Roseann Wilshere, Arleen founded Bare Stage Theatre, where she was associate artistic director. She directed, performed in and assistant directed many scripts at the Bare Stage.

Arleen made many friends, all of whom, upon hearing about her death, have reached out in sympathy, remembering her talent, wonderful joie de vivre, exuberance, and how much fun she could be.

“Arleen was a force,” said Wilshere.

She is survived by her sister Kathleen Voelker of the greater Milwaukee area and her husband of 40 years, Jonathan B. Pace of Riberas del Pilar.

A celebration of  life will be held at The Bare Stage Theatre on January 10, 2024 at 4 p.m., Hidalgo 261 in Riberas del Pilar.

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