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Around the Coyote

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Taking its name from the Tower Building at the intersection of North, Damen, and Milwaukee, which once housed the Coyote Gallery, this annual Wicker Park event includes a sizable theater and performance component--and this year's is bigger than ever, boasts coordinator Jonathan Pitts. Running September 7 through 10, the sixth annual Around the Coyote features 37 different theater and performance-art productions--that's more than 125 performances in four days, at various locations both indoors and out. And they're all free, making ATC Chicago's only no-cost theater fest.

Productions are organized by aesthetic and thematic categories, with each category assigned to a specific venue as follows:

"Theatre With No Boundaries": Guitar Plus, 1552 N. Milwaukee.

"Theatre From the Global Village": Saint Paul's Community Church, 2215 W. North.

"Carnival of Comedy: Freaks, Geeks & the Masks of Us": Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland.

"Tea for Two: Intimate Theatre Works": Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division.

"Performance Is As Performance Does": Wicker Park field house, 1425 N. Damen.

"True Community Theatre (No Arsenic and Old Lace Here)": Urbus Orbis, 1934 W. North.

"Theatre Is Where You Find It or It Finds You": A series of performances starting next weekend at various outdoor locations.

In addition, spoken-word programming includes a poetry and fiction showcase in which Chicago writers read original work at Estelle's Pub, 2013 W. North. And selected performances also take place on the ATC main stage in Wicker Park, 1425 N. Damen. For more information, call 292-9497.

The Reader runs festival listings on a week-by-week basis. Here's the schedule of performances on opening day.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7

Her Descent Into Hell

Laura Anderson integrates personal narrative with physical objects. "Performance Is As Performance Does," Wicker Park field house, 7 PM.

Mobius American Theatre

Laszlo U.K. improvises an hour-long play from audience suggestions. "Theatre With No Boundaries," Guitar Plus, 7 PM.

Polish Love Songs: An Old World Cabaret

Agata Paleczny performs Polish songs and poetry. "Theatre From the Global Village," Saint Paul's Community Church, 7 PM.

Bread and Circuses

Bang Bang Spontaneous Theatre performs. "Carnival of Comedy: Freaks, Geeks & the Masks of Us," Trap Door Theatre, 7 PM.

JustUs Sista's

JUSTUS, a Rogers Park-based ensemble that tours extensively through the Chicago Public Schools under the auspices of Urban Gateways, focuses on the work of African-American writers; actors Crystal Bush, Susan Marie McNabb, and Nicole Tinnin perform poetry by the likes of Maya Angelou, Harry Belafonte, Langston Hughes, and Ntozake Shange. Sandey Kastrul and Oba William King direct. "Tea for Two: Intimate Theatre Works," Chopin Theatre, 7 PM.

See Me, Hear Me

Deaf actor Michael Stark performs a one-man comedy/drama. "Theatre From the Global Village," Saint Paul's Community Church, 7:30 PM.

Kaspar in Babylon

Also known as Punch, Kaspar is a traditional hero of European puppetry; he's transported to contemporary America in this new puppet piece by Kristen Rengren and Lisa Barcy. "Theatre With No Boundaries," Guitar Plus, 8 PM.

Kinsey Report

The Aguijon II Theatre Company presents Rosario Vargas's one-woman show, performed in Spanish and based on a poem by Mexican poet Rosario Castellanos. "Theatre From the Global Village," Saint Paul's Community Church, 8 PM.

The Inevitable Crunch Factor

The premiere of an original play by LA performance artist Catherine Sullivan, presented in its world premiere. Performed by an all-woman cast, this Trap Door Theatre production takes place in a roadside bar where a cocktail waitress "meets a group of absurd freaks who force her to question the monotony of life and the virtues of true womanhood," says a press release. "Carnival of Comedy: Freaks, Geeks & the Masks of Us," Trap Door Theatre, 8 PM.

Wren, Worms, and Fuck You . . . A Love Story

No Tortured Artists perform three short plays by Kate Hoffower. "Tea for Two: Intimate Theatre Works," Chopin Theatre, 8 PM.

The Zone Performance

Rachel Bell's interactive performance piece enacts a story based on audience participation with props. "Performance Is As Performance Does," Wicker Park field house, 8 PM.

Tom Caplan

Caplan performs his own poetry from memory, drawing heavily on images of family and urban life. Estelle's Pub, 8 PM.

Eyescapades (Thaw Dance II)

This movement-based performance piece, created by Audry Colby, Tim Noworyta, and Nancy Andria juxtaposes seasonal change with personal. "Performance Is As Performance Does," Wicker Park field house, 8:30 PM.

Brett Batchelder

The poet and short-story writer reads pieces about culture, gender, and death. Estelle's Pub, 8:30 PM.

Expanse

The MASS ensemble, whose name stands for "Movement and Sonic Sculpture," creates sound pieces using traditional instruments, dance, spoken texts, and a wide range of musical and artistic references. "Theatre With No Boundaries," Guitar Plus, 9 PM.

Like Our Parents Smoking Cornsilk

The Nomenil collective, which specializes in comedy with a gay perspective, presents "a cartoonlike fantastical journey of two selves searching for the answers to stupid questions." "Carnival of Comedy: Freaks, Geeks & the Masks of Us," Trap Door Theatre, 9 PM.

Old Indian Trick

The Red Path Theatre Company, directed by Eddie Two Rivers, performs a ribald comedy about the experiences of several Native Americans who have gotten into trouble with both organized crime and the law. "Theatre From the Global Village," Saint Paul's Community Church, 9 PM.

Dialogue Between a Prostitute and Her Client

Tantrum Productions' piece, described as "a blunt and revealing conversation" that includes male nudity, is directed by Maria Muller. "Tea for Two: Intimate Theatre Works," Chopin Theatre, 9 PM.

Inamorata: The Plighted Troth

Tales From the Winged Monkey presents Yvie Raij's piece about "a man, a woman, and a waiter [who] embark on a journey through longing, romance, and desire." "Performance Is As Performance Does," Wicker Park field house, 9 PM.

Fonky Ass Bitch

Teresa Valentino's comic performance deals with autobiographical material, including "growing up Catholic in Chicago, her kooky father, working on a construction site, and coming into her own as a woman of the 90s." "Performance Is As Performance Does," Wicker Park field house, 10 PM.

Unclean Thoughts

The Players To Be Named Later perform improv games and an improvised, audience-directed soap opera. "Carnival of Comedy: Freaks, Geeks & the Masks of Us," Trap Door Theatre, 10 PM.

Top 10 No Shame Pieces

The Moveable Feast Theatre Company presents a program of three- to five-minute monologues, scenes, poetry, and songs. "Tea for Two: Intimate Theatre Works," Chopin Theatre, 10 PM.

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