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Bodies of Work: The Chicago Festival of Disability Arts and Culture

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Chicago's first-ever festival focusing on work created by and about artists with disabilities includes performances, visual art, film and video, lectures, and workshops presented throughout the city and in some suburban locations Thursday, April 20, through Sunday, April 30, with several visual art exhibits running beyond those dates. More than 50 cultural institutions and community groups are participating; all venues are wheelchair-accessible and have accessible restrooms. Many performances include audio description, word-for-word captioning, or sign-language interpretation. Below is a schedule of selected events through Thursday, April 27; for a complete schedule and information on public transportation, parking, accessibility, and accommodations, see www.bodiesofwork.org or call 312-744-6630 (TTY 312-744-2927).

THURSDAY 20

Define or Be Defined: The Question of Disability Language

Panel of artists and scholars moderated by Carol Gill, director of UIC's Center for Disability Research. a 5 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park Room, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. F

Mutiple Expressions--One Objective

A collaborative multimedia presentation of short works by actors, dancers, writers, musicians, visual artists, and others. Susan Nussbaum hosts; participants include Mike Ervin, Tekki Lomnicki, Riva Lehrer, Robert Scheifler, and Angela Allyn. a 6:30 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall and GAR Hall/Rotunda, 78 E. Washington, 312-742-4716, reservations required. F

FRIDAY 21

Erasing the Distance: The People I Know

Monica Payne directs performances based on true stories of people who have struggled with mental health issues and their loved ones. The show is followed by a dialogue with the audience. a Preshow reception begins at 5 PM, performances at 6 PM, Jane Addams Hull House Center for Arts and Culture, 1136 W. Wilson, 773-944-5062, $50 opening night, $15 all other performances.

Bodies of Work: A Public Forum

Interactive panel moderated by disability rights activist and theater studies scholar Carrie Sandahl. a 6 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, Garland Room, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. F

Mirror of Unique: Beautiful Me, Beautiful Us

Members of the Thresholds psychiatric rehabilitation center perform an ensemble-created program of short pieces. Sharing personal recollections and self-affirmation may be therapeutic, and the company's intense effort is admirable. But the stories barely scratch the surface of what it's like to feel different or alone, and the production seldom succeeds as theater. (JG) a 7 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington, 773-435-3536, $15; postshow discussion.

Momenta and Dance>Detour

These two troupes present a program of "physically integrated" dance. a 7:30 PM, Duncan YMCA Chernin Center for the Arts, 1001 W. Roosevelt, 312-421-7800, $15-$20.

c Weights a See below.

Cradle of Man

See listing in Theater & Performance. This performance offers a free "touch tour" of the stage for visually impaired patrons at 6:30 PM and is audio described. a 8 PM, Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000 (TTY 312-871-0682), $20.

SATURDAY 22

A Celebration of the Life of John Belluso

The late playwright is remembered through readings from his plays Pyretown and Henry Flamethrowa, both previously produced at Victory Gardens, performed here by actors, authors, and other members of the disability community. a 1:30 PM, Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000 (TTY 312-871-0682). F

Youth Poetry Reading and Dance Performance

Young poets from Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago perform readings "about their emerging self-awareness." Following the readings, the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association presents an adult dance performance. a 3 PM, Jane Addams Hull House Center for Arts and Culture, 1136 W. Wilson, 773-907-9304. F

The Exponential Power of Art in Building a Global Disability Culture

Discussion with performance artist Mat Fraser (see listing for Sealboy: Freak for Sun 4/23). a 3:30 PM, Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000 (TTY 312-871-0682). F

Mirror of Unique: Beautiful Me, Beautiful Us

See listing for Fri 4/21. a 7 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington, 773-435-3536, $15.

Momenta and Dance>Detour

See listing for Fri 4/21. a 7:30 PM, Duncan YMCA Chernin Center for the Arts, 1001 W. Roosevelt, 312-421-7800, $15-$20.

c Weights a See below.

Erasing the Distance: The People I Know

See listing for Fri 4/21. a 8 PM, Jane Addams Hull House Center for Arts and Culture, 1136 W. Wilson, 773-944-5062, $15.

SUNDAY 23

Mirror of Unique: Beautiful Me, Beautiful Us

See listing for Fri 4/21. a 2 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington, 773-435-3536, $15.

Smudge and Sun Always Shining

Two G-rated films. Smudge is about a young girl with Down syndrome who tries to smuggle a puppy into her group home; Sun Always Shining profiles the mentally disabled Chicago landscape artist Kenneth Williams. a 2:30 PM, Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th, 773-445-3838, $5.

Momenta and Dance>Detour

See listing for Fri 4/21. a 3 PM, Duncan YMCA Chernin Center for the Arts, 1001 W. Roosevelt, 312-421-7800, $15-$20.

Sealboy: Freak

British performer Mat Fraser--actor, poet, musician, writer, and self-described "thalidomide ninja"--was born with shortened, "seal-like" arms. Raised in a theatrical family, he first learned the power of performance at school, joking his way into favor with the antagonists who persecuted him because of his appearance. His solo show asks whether an audience can see beyond the disability and perceive the person as a performer. Word-for-word captioning and audio description available for this performance. a 7:30 PM, Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000 (TTY 312-871-0682), $15.

Erasing the Distance: The People I Know

See listing for Fri 4/21. a 8 PM, Jane Addams Hull House Center for Arts and Culture, 1136 W. Wilson, 773-944-5062, $15.

MONDAY 24

Sealboy: Freak

See listing for Sun 4/23. Word-for-word captioning, audio description, and sign-language interpretation available for this performance. a 7:30 PM, Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000 (TTY 312-871-0682), $15.

TUESDAY 25

Inclusion, Democracy, and Disability

University of Chicago political scientist Iris Marion Young heads up a panel discussion. a 4 PM, University of Illinois at Chicago, auditorium, 1640 W. Roosevelt, 312-996-2151. F

Universal Design: A Catalyst for Invention

Panel with Access Living CEO Marca Bristo, designers Valerie Fletcher and Coco Raynes, and Metropolitan Museum of Art access coordinator Rebecca McGinnis. a 6 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010. F

R Blurred Vision: The Relapse

Tekki Lomnicki is a dwarf who's also a great monologuist with a funny, powerful, vivid autobiographical show it would be a bummer to miss. A sort of sick man's Wizard of Oz, Blurred Vision presents Lomnicki as a hypochondriacal Dorothy wandering among the doctors asking not how to get home but whether she has cancer. Which, in a weird way, turns out to be the same question. Though the ending is somewhat saccharine, this hour-long show spares little along the way, hilariously satirizing the labyrinth of medical faith even as it demonstrates the painful consequences of living one's life within that labyrinth. (TA) a 8 PM, Second City E.T.C., Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells, 312-337-3992, $15.

WEDNESDAY 26

Poetry & Jazz Coffeehouse

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago sponsors a program of readings and music. a 10 AM and 1 PM, RIC, LIFE Center, 345 E. Superior (first floor), 312-238-5433. F

R Traffic

Conceptual, interdisciplinary dance, and media artist Bill Shannon delivers an improvised, choreographed performance that the audience watches from a moving tour bus equipped with video screens and a DJ, as Shannon mixes his relationship to the concrete with freestyle street dancing, gravity-defying skateboarding, and silent-film poetics. The physical feats can be astonishing. (LM) a Departs 6 PM from Museum of Contemporary Art, theater, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010, $22.

Bodies of (Comedy) Work

The Chicago Improv Festival cohosts this evening of deaf improvisation featuring solo performer Terry Galloway of Austin and the company Ice Worm from California. a 7 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630. F

Aaltra

Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern's Belgian comedy in black-and-white 'Scope follows a couple of feuding farmers who wind up paralyzed in wheelchairs after being run over by a tractor and who travel together to Helsinki to confront the company that built the tractor. I saw this alleged crowd-pleaser about eight months ago and barely remember it. In French, German, and Finnish with subtitles. R, 90 min. (JR) a 7:30 PM, Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th, 773-445-3838, $7.

R Blurred Vision: The Relapse

See listing for Tue 4/25. a 8 PM, Second City E.T.C., Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells, 312-337-3992, $15.

THURSDAY 27

Human Beings: Disability in Contemporary Art

Gallery talk with artist Riva Lehrer and curator Zofia Zutautas. a 12:15 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6300. F

R Traffic

See listing for Wed 4/26. a Departs 6 PM from Museum of Contemporary Art, theater, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010, $22.

From Satire to Surreal: Award-Winning Disability Shorts From Overseas

Short films and videos from France, Australia, the UK, and the U.S. 73 min. a 6 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630 (TTY 312-744-2947). F

Re-Inventing Ourselves

Short films from the UK, both from 2004: Lloyd Newson's The Cost of Living and Paul Sapin's Born Freak, the latter a study of how disabled people have supported themselves through carnival freak shows. Mat Fraser (see Sun 4/23 listing for Sealboy: Freak), one of the stars of Born Freak, will participate in a postshow discussion. a 8 PM, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630 (TTY 312-744-2947). F

EXHIBITS

Humans Being: Disability in Contemporary Art

Work by 20-plus artists, through 6/4. Also, "Thinking Out Loud," work from studio programs for artists with disabilities, through Sun 5/14. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630 (TTY 312-744-2947). Mon-Thu 8 AM-7 PM, Fri 8 AM-6 PM, Sat 9 AM-6 PM, Sun 10 AM-6 PM. Audio describers look at "Human Beings" Sat 4/22 and Thu 4/27, noon-2 PM. F

Self-Portraits as an Artist

Work by Jason Lazarus, through Sun 4/30. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010. Tue 10 AM-8 PM, Wed-Sun 10 AM-5 PM. $10, $6 students and seniors; Tuesdays free. Tour with sign-language interpretation Tue 4/25, 5 PM.

Peer.me.sis Project

Autobiographical art from Little City Foundation, Thu 4/20-Wed 5/31. South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr. (daily 9 AM-6 PM), and Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph (Mon-Thu 10 AM-7 PM, Fri 10 AM-6 PM, Sat 10 AM-5 PM, Sun 11 AM-5 PM), 847-221-7766. Audio describers will be at South Shore Sat 4/22 and 4/29, 1-3 PM, and at Gallery 37 Sat 4/29, 1-3 PM. F

Navigation/Negotiation

"Disability-themed" art by School of the Art Institute students, staff, and alumni. Fri 4/21-Mon 6/12. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-499-4286. Mon-Fri 5-9 PM, Sat 2-9 PM, Sun 2-6 PM. Reception Thu 4/27, 5:30-7:30 PM, with tours led by audio describers and sign-language interpreters at 6:30 PM. F

Expressions of Ability

Group show, through Sun 4/30. Jane Addams Hull House Center for Arts and Culture, 1136 W. Wilson, 773-907-9403. Mon-Fri 10 AM-6 PM, Sat noon-5 PM. Sign-language interpreters will be on hand Sat 4/22, 2-6 PM. F

Disability in Chicago

Historical exhibit, through Mon 7/31. National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, 1801 S. Indiana, 312-326-0270. Tue-Fri 11 AM-6 PM, Sat 10 AM-5 PM, Sun noon-5 PM. $10, $7 students. Audio describers survey the show Fri 4/21, 4-6 PM, and Sat 4/29, 3-5 PM.

The Abstract Mind Mural

Mural by 30-plus professional artists working with "individuals living with mental illness," Thu 4/20-Sun 4/30. Museum of Science and Industry, 57th and Lake Shore Dr., 312-337-2536. Mon-Sat 9:30 AM-4 PM, Sun 11 AM-5 PM. $11. Audio described Wed 4/26, 4-6 PM.

Interactive Playground

Art from seven countries exploring "the concept of disability," plus work by members of the group Arts of Life, through Sun 4/30. Also, "Urban Perspectives," cityscapes and portraits by adults with developmental disabilities, Thu 4/20-Sun 4/30. Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th, 773-445-3838. Mon-Fri noon-8 PM, Sat-Sun noon-5 PM. Reception Fri 4/28, 6-9 PM. F

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