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1994 International Theatre Festival of Chicago

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The fest, which runs through June 19, heads into the home stretch this week with openings by two companies--the Netherlands' Dogtroep in Camel Gossip III and Ireland's Gate Theatre in Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock--and one solo artist, San Francisco monologuist Marga Gomez (in two pieces, Memory Tricks and Marga Gomez Is Pretty, Witty and Gay). These shows dovetail with closing performances by England's Stephen Joseph Theatre (Alan Ayckbourn's company) in Communicating Doors, Greece's Attis Theatre in The Persians and The Kanon, and Canadian soloist Robert Lepage in Needles and Opium. Also on the agenda are various breakfast and lunch presentations, postshow discussions, and professional workshops.

Performances take place at DePaul University's Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo; the Wellington Theater, 750 W. Wellington; the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield; and the Navy Pier Skyline Stage, 600 E. Grand (at Lake Michigan). Various public programs will be held at the Columbia College Theater/Music Center, 72 E. 11th, and the Goodman Theatre Studio, 200 S. Columbus. Single ticket prices are listed for each production; for single ticket orders, call 831-2822. For series tickets, call 664-3378; for group discounts, details on the professional workshops, and general festival information, call 664-3370.

Following is the schedule for June 2 through 9:

THURSDAY, JUNE 2

The Kanon

It's surprising to realize that four previous international theater festivals never brought a Greek company to Chicago, given both the city's large Greek population and Greece's dominant position in the history of western drama. Remedying past sins of omission, Athens' Attis Theatre arrives with two productions, one of which is this play by Vassilis Vassikehayoglou. Described as "a series of erotic conflicts and imaginary murder" in an ancient setting, it concerns a poet's interaction with two of his fantasy creations. The trio's game of sexual intrigue is accompanied by the music of the Kronos Quartet. Wellington Theater, 7:30 PM (opening). Performed in Greek with English translation available. $20-$25.

Communicating Doors

Are you going to Scarborough fair? No need; Scarborough has come here. At least it's sent a representative: the Stephen Joseph Theatre, whose namesake--the director-producer son of Hermione Gingold--was the mentor of writer-director Alan Ayckbourn, England's most prolific playwright and the theater's artistic director since 1971. He's directed his own play, a comic fantasy thriller about a prostitute who jumps backwards and forwards in time, via a door linking two hotel suites, in an effort to prevent three murders (including her own) and change the course of history. Merle Reskin Theatre, 7:30 PM. A discussion follows the performance. $21-$40. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

Camel Gossip III

The Amsterdam-based Dogtroep, an ensemble of actors, musicians, sculptors, artists, and technicians, was formed in 1975 by a core of street performers; these days its specialty is whimsical, site-specific spectacles custom-made for the city they're playing (previous Camel Gossips were presented in Glasgow and Amsterdam). That may be why this family-oriented production, at the newly opened Navy Pier Skyline Stage, is receiving a set of previews prior to a June 5 opening. Press materials refer to "the aesthetics of chaos" in the company's work--take the name Dogtroep, a meaningless word that was printed by mistake in a program and took hold. Navy Pier Skyline Stage, 9 PM (preview). $21-$26.

FRIDAY, JUNE 3

Brown Bag Lunch

The Chicago Tribune's Rick Kogan and writer Alton Miller host an informal lunch discussion with festival artists (Robert Lepage and members of Dogtroep and the Stephen Joseph and Attis theaters are scheduled to show up). Goodman Theatre Studio, 12:10 PM. Free; box lunches available for $8; "reservations recommended but not required."

Needles and Opium

Quebec performer-director Robert Lepage's magical yet straightforward stagecraft and theatrical ingenuity were evident in his epic Dragon's Trilogy, seen at past festivals; he's back with this solo performance about love, art, and addiction, inspired by American jazz great Miles Davis (and his heroin habit) and opium-addicted French poet Jean Cocteau. Lepage asserts his own place in this august but troubled company when his alter ego in the piece checks into Sartre's famous room in Paris's Hotel de la Louisiane, and there indulges in his own obsession: his feelings for an estranged lover across the ocean, whom he desperately tries to reach. Vic Theatre, 7:30 PM. A discussion follows the performance. $17.50-$22.50.

Communicating Doors

See listing for Thursday, June 2. Merle Reskin Theatre, 7:30 PM. $21-$40.

The Kanon

See listing for Thursday, June 2. Wellington Theater, 7:30 PM. $20-$25.

Camel Gossip III

See listing for Thursday, June 2. Navy Pier Skyline Stage, 9 PM (preview). $21-$26.

SATURDAY, JUNE 4

Breakfast Discussion

WBEZ's Mara Tapp hosts a discussion with members of the Attis Theatre on "The Performance of Classical Theatre Today." Get there early; there's a long line for coffee and rolls in the cramped foyer. Columbia College Theater/Music Center, Getz Theater, 10:30 AM. $10 (includes continental breakfast).

Communicating Doors

See listing for Thursday, June 2. Merle Reskin Theatre, 5 and 9 PM. $21-$40.

The Kanon

See listing for Thursday, June 2. Wellington Theater, 6 PM. $20-$25.

Needles and Opium

See listing for Friday, June 3. Vic Theatre, 7 and 10:30 PM. $17.50-$22.50.

The Persians

Aeschylus' tragedy, originally presented in 472 B.C. (eight years after the Athenians' victory over their Persian enemies at Salamis), is staged with an eye to such current parallels as Bosnia and the Middle East. That's appropriate; unlike every other known Greek tragedy, The Persians is based not on ancient legend but on a contemporary event: depicting the grief of the Persians following their defeat at Salamis, it both rebukes them for their prideful war-making and laments with them in their loss. Theodoros Terzopoulos, who founded the Attis in 1985, stresses his troupe's intensely physical (though minimalist) approach to drama, labeling it Dionysian rather than Apollonian. Performed in ancient and modern Greek with English translation available. Wellington Theater, 9 PM. $20-$25.

Camel Gossip III

See listing for Thursday, June 2. Navy Pier Skyline Stage, 9 PM (preview). $21-$26; $60-$500 for "Gala Picnic on the Pier" benefit tickets (includes preshow picnic, postperformance fireworks, and other amenities according to price; call 664-3370 for details).

SUNDAY, JUNE 5

Communicating Doors

See listing for Thursday, June 2. Merle Reskin Theatre, 2 and 7 PM (closing). $21-$40.

The Persians

See listing for Saturday, June 4. Wellington Theater, 2 PM (closing). $20-$25.

The Kanon

See listing for Thursday, June 2. Wellington Theater, 7 PM (closing). $20-$25.

Camel Gossip III

See listing for Thursday, June 2. Navy Pier Skyline Stage, 9 PM (opening). $21-$26.

TUESDAY, JUNE 7

Juno and the Paycock

Sean O'Casey's 1924 masterpiece, a tragedy infused with rich humor, depicts the effects of Ireland's civil war on a Dublin slum family. Premiered 70 years ago by the Abbey Theatre, it's been revived by the Abbey's chief rival, the Gate Theatre, which in the last decade has made a smashing recovery from the decline it suffered following the deaths of its founders, Micheal MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards. This staging by Joe Dowling has won high praise from Irish, English, and New York critics, who dubbed it a "must-see" show for its ensemble playing and evocative design. Merle Reskin Theatre, 7:30 PM (opening). $21-$40.

Memory Tricks

See Critic's Choice on Marga Gomez. Wellington Theater, 7:30 PM (preview). $20-$25.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8

Memory Tricks

See Critic's Choice on Marga Gomez. Wellington Theater, 7:30 PM (opening). A discussion follows the performance. $20-$25.

Juno and the Paycock

See listing for Tuesday, June 7. Merle Reskin Theatre, 7:30 PM. $21-$40.

Camel Gossip III

See listing for Thursday, June 2. Navy Pier Skyline Stage, 9 PM. $21-$26.

THURSDAY, JUNE 9

Marga Gomez Is Pretty, Witty and Gay

See Critic's Choice on Marga Gomez. Wellington Theater, 7:30 PM (opening). $20-$25.

Juno and the Paycock

See listing for Tuesday, June 7. Merle Reskin Theatre, 7:30 PM. A discussion follows the performance. $21-$40.

Camel Gossip III

See listing for Thursday, June 2. Navy Pier Skyline Stage, 9 PM. $21-$26.

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