The Young Shakespeare Players may be young--they're kids, actually, ages 8 to 18--but that doesn't mean they think the world owes them anything. "Please do not relax your standards for us on account of our ages," requests publicist Amber Baum. We weren't going to. The group--which has been putting on the odd Macbeth or As You Like It for ten summers now--gets started each winter by presenting a workshop of short selections from Shakespeare and continues in the spring with rehearsals for the full-length production. This year's production is The Tempest, the one with ingenuous Miranda, imposing old Prospero, and grunting Caliban; there are three performances this weekend, at 7 tonight and tomorrow and 4 Sunday, all free and outdoors at Montay College, 3750 W. Peterson. You can call 527-1237 for details.
The Guatemalan military isn't all that different from its counterpart in El Salvador really, save that it gets a little less U.S. aid and is perhaps a bit more bloodthirsty as a consequence. The Guatemalan Information Center/Casa Guatemala's annual March for the Massacred commemorates what the groups say are the hundreds of villages and untold thousands of people eliminated in the course of the military's countryside eradication policies. The march starts at the totem pole in Lincoln Park, just south of Irving Park Road, at 11 AM today, then wanders down the lake to the Hamilton Monument just south of Diversey. It's free to participate or watch. Call 561-0842 for details.
The official Jamaican Independence Day is the first Monday in August; this year the country celebrated its 29th birthday. Some belated celebrating will be done this weekend with the Cari-Jama (Caribbean-Jamaica) festival at the East of the Ryan banquet hall, 914 E. 79th St., from noon to 6 today. Five dollars--two for kids--gets you a fashion show and beauty pageant (to crown Miss Jamaica-Illinois; she wins a one-week trip to Jamaica), music (reggae from Charles Cameron and the Sunshine Festival Band), and even a dominoes tournament. Food is separate. Call 663-0023 or 708-957-1266 for more information.
South-side soul man Johnny Christian, who's practically the house band at the fabled Checkerboard Lounge, is the featured attraction at this year's Blues Cruise, the late-night (or rather, early-morning) smorgasbord of food, blues, and skyline-watching on Lake Michigan organized by Rosa's Blues Lounge. Christian and his band the Chicago Playboys have been around for nearly a decade and are noted for a couple of singles in the mid-80s and a debut album, Somebody Call My Baby, in 1989. (A follow-up's in the works.) The $35 ticket includes both admission to Rosa's, 3420 W. Armitage, to see Melvin Taylor and the Slack Band earlier in the evening, and the cruise, which leaves the south dock of Navy Pier at 1 AM and tours the lake for the next four hours. Call Rosa's at 342-0452 for more info.
Last call for neighborhood fests: The 11th Howard W. Carroll Foundation 50-Fest, in Warren Park, 6621 N. Western, offers from 11 to 10 today and tomorrow its traditional melange of 50s music and entertainment (on three stages), along with its usual distinctive touches--skydiving demonstrations (at 4 and 6 today and tomorrow) and fireworks (at nightfall both nights)--plus food, bingo, crafts exhibits, and a petting zoo. It's free. Call 743-5015 for details. Farther south, The Many Flavors of Greece gets under way at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 601 S. Central, with music from the Linardakis Band, carnival stuff, art for sale, and lots of Greek food. It's open noon to 11 today, 2 to 11 tomorrow. It's $2, free for kids under 13. Call 626-3114 for more.
The 23rd International Tournee of Animation continues at the Music Box Theatre through September 12. This year's version proffers the usual amalgam of festival winners from around the world, notably Russian Garri Bardin's Grey Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood, winner of the first prize at the Annecy animation festival in France; American Bill Plympton's Push Comes to Shove, awarded the grand prize for short feature at Cannes last year; and student Academy Award winner Gregory Grant's Ode to G.I. Joe. The shebang plays at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, at 2:45, 5, 7:15, and 9:30 today. It's $6; call 871-6604.
Today is the kickoff to Free Week at the Terra Museum of American Art, 664 N. Michigan. The current exhibition consists of works from the museum's permanent collection--paintings from Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Maurice Prendergast, and John Singer Sargent among them. Hours are Tuesday noon to 8; Wednesday through Saturday 10 to 5. The free week goes through Saturday; after that admission is $4, $2.50 for seniors, and $1 for students. Call 664-3939 for more information.
Roadkill director Bruce McDonald describes his film as "a rock 'n' roll road movie about a girl who learns to drive"; the film includes music from the Ramones, the Cowboy Junkies, and Nash the Slash; it shows tonight and Thursday at 6 and next Saturday, September 7, at 7, as the first in a series of Film Center presentations of new independent features. The survey, says the center, "seems to prove the adage that in today's cinema, audacity, passion, and ingenuity exist in reverse proportion to budget size." The center's at Columbus and Jackson; admission is $5. Call 443-3733 for details.
David Cronenberg likes things that interact with the human body--whether sexual parasites that take over the residents of an apartment complex (They Came From Within); syringelike protrusions from the armpit that inflict disease upon those unlucky enough to come into contact with them (Rabid); or podlike physical manifestations of a woman's neuroses (The Brood). And those are just his first three movies. The Canadian director, who's also made Scanners, Videodrome, and Dead Ringers, is the subject of a six-week class at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton, starting tonight. The class runs from 7 to 9:30 and costs $95, $80 for Facets members. Three other film classes are being offered on different nights. Preregistration is required for all of them; call 281-9075 for details.
Chicago's disparate transit centers don't seem adequate for its sprawling downtown--it's neither easy nor quick to get from, say, Union Station to South Michigan Avenue, or from the Sears Tower to the Hancock Center. One proposed solution is a downtown light-rail system that would crisscross the Loop and connect it to North Michigan. The plan is the subject of a Friends of Downtown brown-bag luncheon today at noon in the fourth floor meeting room of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. It lasts an hour--you can bring your lunch--and it's free. Call 977-0098.
Keeper of the Gate is Selwa "Lucky" Roosevelt's memoir of seven years as chief of protocol for Ronald Reagan. The years the granddaughter-in-law of Theodore Roosevelt spent at the White House watching one of the most graceless leaders of modern times interact with foreign dignitaries will probably make for some interesting story telling at an "afternoon tea" at the Mayfair Regent Hotel today at 3. Tea, finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries are all included with the $15 admission. The Regent is at 181 E. Lake Shore Drive. Call 787-8500 for more info.