Alladeen | Art Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Builders Association, a New York-based experimental company founded by former Wooster Group dramaturge Marianne Weems, made its Chicago debut almost two years ago with Xtravaganza, a trippy homage to producer Florenz Ziegfeld, director Busby Berkeley, dancer Loie Fuller, and designer Steele MacKaye. For her troupe's return engagement Weems has joined forces with designers Keith Khan and Ali Zaidi, collectively known as the British "performance spectacle" team Moti Roti. But this time Weems's troupe focuses on legend, not history. Incorporating video by Christopher Kondek, electronic music by Dan Dobson and Shrikanth Sriram, and lighting by the brilliant Jennifer Tipton, Alladeen draws on the age-old stories that inspired the Arabian Nights character Aladdin--and on the cinematic interpretations by both Hollywood and Bollywood. (The performances are augmented by screenings of Indian films.) In the tale of Aladdin, which fuses Arab, Chinese, and African elements, a utilitarian object imbued with supernatural powers--a magic lamp--transforms the life of a reckless youth. Similarly, Alladeen expresses a view of global society as a hybrid culture shaped by once polarized racial and ethnic groups and by the interaction of human beings and the technology they invent. Museum of Contemporary Art, theater, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010. Opens Thursday, April 10, 8 PM. Through April 13: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $22.

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