Some would say translating Shakespeare into "modern English" is a little like doing an animated version of Citizen Kane, but that hasn't stopped a company called the Mosaic Youth Theatre Ensemble from essaying their contemporary take on A Midsummer Night's Dream, preserving the work's "hilarious plot" and "zany characters" if not the Bard's actual words. They perform What Fools These Mortals Be! today and tomorrow at 11 AM at the Chicago Historical Society, Clark and North. Tix are $6, and the presenting Latino Chicago Theater Company suggests you call ahead for reservations: 486-5120.
Columbia College's new Center for the Book and Paper Arts consolidates two local, formerly independent operations: Artists Book Works, offering classes in bookbinding, book preservation, letterpress, and typography since 1983, and Paper Press, founded in 1980 to promote awareness of handmade paper. Tonight from 5:30 to 7:30 the school is showing off the new center: a 12,000-square-foot loft space on the seventh floor at 218 S. Wabash that includes a papermaking facility, a bookbinding room, a letterpress, a darkroom, a gallery, and even studio space available for rent. At their reception tonight you can make your own paper and see books by William Drendel and paper from Richard Hungerford on exhibit. It's free. Call 431-8612 for more.
The U. of C.'s Court Theatre is marking the opening of Frida: The Last Portrait with a fund-raiser tonight called Fiesta Mexicana, a Mexican-themed dinner and dance at the Hotel Nikko, 320 N. Dearborn. There'll be strolling musicians, balladeers, dancers, and a pinata filled with prizes (including five trips to Mexico). Fox 32's Lilia Chacon serves as mistress of ceremonies. Tickets range from $175 to $250. Things get under way at 6:30. Call 702-7005. The play, meanwhile, opens Thursday, April 21, at 7:30 at the theater, 5535 S. Ellis; tickets are $20-$26. Call 753-4472 for details.
It's National Astronomy Day, and the country's oldest aggregation of sky watchers--our own Chicago Astronomical Society--has arranged an array of displays and demonstrations. You can find out how to build a home telescope and learn how new video and personal-computer technology is affecting the field from 10 AM to 8 PM in the Harlem-Irving Plaza, 4104 N. Harlem. At dusk the group will adjourn to the Cernan Earth and Space Center at Triton College, 2000 Fifth Avenue in River Grove, for some stargazing, weather permitting. It's all free. Call 725-5618.
The National Campaign for Freedom of Expression suggests that you think of its Taxpayers Party tonight as an opportunity to part with your money for a good cause--to defend a certain prominent amendment to the Constitution. It runs from 5 to 9 at the Peace Museum, 350 W. Ontario; the $25 ticket buys you an NCFE membership (tickets are $10 if you're already a member), music from Kahil El'Zabar and Billy Bang, wine, and munchies. Call 440-1860 for more info.
Those who know him today only for his toothless gossip and old-school "humor" forget that Irv Kupcinet was one of the biggest columnists in the country before most of us were born. He and his wife Essee, known locally as a patron of the arts, are being feted tonight by the Museum of Broadcast Communications at a $250-a-head dinner at the Hyatt Regency, 151 W. Wacker. It starts at 7; call 629-6023 for tickets. A corresponding exhibit, which includes excerpts from his long-running Kup's Show and other samples of his TV work, along with Scott Craig's documentary Kup, shows at the museum, which is in the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, through Sunday. It's open Saturday 10 to 4:30 and Sunday noon to 5. Admission is free. Call 629-6000 for details.
A nationally known advocate for battered women and an actress who portrayed a battered woman in an acclaimed TV movie are the special guests at a brunch to raise money for Friends of Battered Women and Their Children, a local social service group. The advocate is Chicago's own Susan Murphy Milano, whose father's abuse of his family culminated in her mother's murder and his suicide. The actress is Joanna Kerns, star of TV's Growing Pains as well as the film Shameful Secrets. The $30 ticket includes brunch, talks by Kerns and Milano, a screening of Shameful Secrets, and a postmovie discussion. It runs from 10:30 AM to about 3 PM in the Louis Room of Northwestern University's Norris Center, 1999 South Campus Drive in Evanston. Call 274-5232 for more.
The folks at Barbara's Bookstore call Louis Begley's new book, As Max Saw It, a "masterful story of friendship and mortality." It's about two old college chums--one a watcher, the other a doer--who renew their friendship and face a crisis. Begley is the respected author of Wartime Lies and The Man Who Was Late. He reads at the New Town Barbara's, 3130 N. Broadway, at 7:30 tonight. Call 477-0411.
A good part of the main cast of Phantom of the Opera, currently in open run at the Auditorium Theatre, invades the Pump Room tonight for a free evening of songs. The musical's Raoul (Nat Chandler), Monsieur Andre (Michael DeVries), and Madame Giry (Olga Talyn) will be on hand starting at 9. For seating in the main restaurant, you need reservations; it's first come first serve in the bar, and there's a two-drink minimum. The Pump Room is in the Ambassador East, at 1301 N. State. Call 266-0360.
Mary Ann Doane's three-part address on film theory, feminism, and semiotics continues today with "Dead Time, or the Concept of the Event" and concludes Thursday with "Temporality, Storage, Legibility: Freud, Marat, and the Cinema." Doane's a professor of modern culture and media at Brown University and the author of The Desire to Desire: The Women's Film of the 1940's and Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis. Both talks start at 4 PM at the Max Palevsky Cinema in the University of Chicago's Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St. The talks are free. Call 702-6421.
Artist Jenny Holzer's confrontational, gnomic messages--from "There's a fine line between information and propaganda" to "Stupid people shouldn't breed"--sometimes appear as text over photographs, sometimes as messages on a light board. She'll talk about her work and autograph her two books--Laments and Venice Texts--at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 237 E. Ontario, this afternoon at 4. Admission's free; call 280-2685. She'll give a more formal lecture on her work and other artists' "public projects" at 6 tonight at the Hotel Inter-Continental, 505 N. Michigan. Tickets to that are $15; call 280-4086.
The media used by three folk-art practitioners are nicely captured in the title of a lecture and discussion tonight at the Arts Club of Chicago, 109 E. Ontario. Hubcaps, Bottle Caps and Trees of Paradise features lecturer Tom Patterson, an expert on outsider and visionary art who's written a variety of books, and artists Kevin Orth, who decorates things like hubcaps, Mr. Imagination, who makes sculpture out of bottle caps and other debris, and David Philpot, who constructs ornamental walking sticks. The program begins with a reception at 5:30. It's $7, $6 for Terra Museum members, students, and seniors, which includes admission to the museum (664 N. Michigan) to see the accompanying exhibit of work by the three artists, Reclamation and Transformation. Call 664-3939.
Suspenders made from metal washers and a wood collar with matching earrings were just two of the submissions to Columbia College's fashion-related art showcase Fashion Columbia. A group of fashion-design students at the school picked the best of the more than 200 items contributed, which include clothing, painting, sculpture, computer graphics, and photography. They're on display in the school's Hokin Gallery, 623 S. Wabash, from 10 to 5 tomorrow and Saturday; admission's free. Tonight's opening reception and awards ceremony features au courant designer Tommy Hilfiger as guest presenter and starts at 5:30 in the gallery; the $25 ticket goes to the college's fashion scholarship fund. Call 663-1600, ext. 651, for details.
Special guests at the 17th annual Loyola Poetry Festival tonight are Susan Hahn (Incontinence, Harriet Rubin's Mother's Wooden Hand) and Pulitzer-nominated David Ray (Wool Highways, Sam's Book, Gathering Firewood). Also reading will be three winners of the Academy of American Poets College Poetry Prize--and no open-mikers. It starts at 7:30 in the auditorium of the Edward Crown Center, 6525 N. Sheridan. It's free. Call 508-2240 for more.