Friday 8/24 - Thursday 8/30
24 FRIDAY The Oblivion Theatre Company's first attempt at a collaboratively scripted production, The Helen Project, tackles the myth of the face that launched a thousand ships. "When we started reading about Helen of Troy, we started realizing there was so much conflicting mythology," says managing director Anna Fitzloff. The new experimental drama was written using improvisational techniques and draws on texts by everyone from Homer to Marilyn Monroe. It opens tonight at 8 and runs through September 23 at the Chicago Cultural Center's Studio Theater, 78 E. Washington. The September 9 performance will be followed by a free discussion with classical scholar Robert Meagher, author of Helen: Myth, Legend, and the Culture of Misogyny. Tickets are $12, $10 for students and seniors. Call 773-506-9557.
Greta Garbo and John Gilbert weren't just acting during the passionate love scenes in the 1926 film Flesh and the Devil; according to Gilbert's daughter's 1985 biography, Dark Star, the pair kept at it long after the cameras stopped. They went on to make three more films together--1927's Love, 1928's A Woman of Affairs, and 1933's Queen Christina. Flesh and the Devil, about a temptress who comes between two best friends, is also notable for featuring the first horizontal screen kiss. It'll be shown tonight at 8 with live organ accompaniment by Dennis Scott as the last installment in this year's Silent Summer Film Festival. It's at the Gateway Theater, 5216 W. Lawrence, and tickets are $10. Call 773-777-9438 or see www.silentfilmchicago.com for more. For the past dozen years, the Link's Hall Chance Dance Festival has taken place on Wednesday nights in August--which means that folks who work that night have missed out. This year they're cutting the last Wednesday (there's a night game) and adding event founder Bob Eisen's "Chance Dance Weekend." Eisen, who now lives in Brooklyn and is finishing up a multicity tour, will perform with Kay Wendt LaSota, Bryn Magnus, and Charlie Vernon tonight and tomorrow night at 8 at Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield. Tickets are $8; for reservations call 773-281-0824.
25 SATURDAY Orleigh, a smart-talking bisexual 19-year-old with a just-say-yes attitude, is the protagonist of local poet Sparrow L. Patterson's debut novel, Synthetic Bi Products. Patterson will read from and discuss the book, which is set here and in LA in the early 90s, tonight at 7 at Quimby's Bookstore, 1854 W. North (773-342-0910). It's free.
"We haven't seen too many vehicles mounted that feature a bi perspective and a lesbian perspective, and we're interested in bringing those two communities together," says poet, performer, and installation artist Lisa Alvarado. She and poet RoiAnn Phillips will perform their own work as well as pieces by Sandra Cisneros, Alice Walker, and Jeanette Winterson at a one-off two-woman show called Doin' It. It's tonight at 7:30 at High Risk Gallery, 1115 W. Belmont (773-271-0449). Sliding scale tickets are $5 to $10.
26 SUNDAY A few years back, when birding organizations squawked at the mayor's proposal to fill in Lake Calumet to create land for a third airport, he had a typically blunt response: "I'd feel sorry for any bird that lived there." However, despite a legacy of landfills, heavy industry, and other misuses, the lake and surrounding wetlands are home to little blue herons, snowy egrets, yellow-crowned night herons, dowitchers, sandpipers, and yellowlegs. They'll hopefully be visible at today's Lake Calumet Shorebirds Field Trip, which is sponsored by the Chicago Ornithological Society and the Chicago Audubon Society. Binoculars are recommended for the free trip, which starts at 8 AM at the O'Brien Lock & Dam parking lot on 130th near I-94. For directions call 312-409-9678 or see www.chicagobirder.org.
27 MONDAY After just eight and a half months in its new 14,000-square-foot Jefferson Park digs, the seven-year-old Charybdis Multi-Arts Complex is closing its doors. "The owners guaranteed us a zoning change in our lease" to allow live performances, says founder Gregor Mortis. "The alderman [Patrick Levar] refused to give us one." The police have also closed down a couple of shows, confiscated the door money, and thrown Mortis into jail twice for ignoring a cease-and-desist order. Now, he says, "we have no money and nowhere to go." Mortis is looking for a new space; the current venue's final group show, S.N.A.F.U., features work inspired by graphic artist Bob Kolody's dozen-year copyright war with Coca-Cola. Your last chance to see it is today from 3 to 8 at Charybdis, 4423 N. Milwaukee (773-427-9970). See www.charybdisarts. com for more information.
28 TUESDAY Vanessa Stalling expected to see anal sex, money shots, and spread-eagled women with shaved pubes when she and Gail Parson began looking at porn magazines and visiting XXX shops to research their new multimedia piece, Critical Consumption, which examines the messages hidden in heterosexual pornography. "What I wasn't prepared for was photographs of women put in very torturous and humiliating positions," she says. "There is a lot of porno out there of women having sex with animals, women desiring to be beaten, and naked women with bruises all around their faces. There are also a lot of depictions of the rape myth, particularly in movies." Such images, she says, legitimize the mistreatment of women by associating it with arousal and entertainment. Performances of Critical Consumption, which combines movement and text and centers on a "universal woman" named Red (played by Amy Fortoul), take place tonight, tomorrow, and Thursday at 8 PM at Women in the Director's Chair, 941 W. Lawrence. Tickets are $7, which includes a postshow discussion. Call 773-384-6290 for more information.
29 WEDNESDAY For its four performances at Ravinia this week, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago presents work that fits into the festival's themes this season--Viennese composers and Latin-inspired music. Tonight's program includes Petite Mort and Sechs TŠnze, choreographed by Jiri Kylian and set to the music of Mozart, and Ohad Naharin's Passomezzo and Minus 16. It'll be repeated on Friday; program two, tomorrow and Saturday, provides the Latin flavor with Margo Sappington's Cobras in the Moonlight, featuring the tangos of Astor Piazzolla, and Nacho Duato's Jardi tancat, set to a series of Catalonian folk songs. Program one starts tonight at 8 at Ravinia, at Lake Cook and Green Bay roads in Highland Park. Pavilion tickets are $25 and $30 ($15 for obstructed-view seats); a spot on the lawn is $10. Call 847-266-5100.
30 THURSDAY The Chicago-based DykeDiva Web site was launched last year because its founder, who identifies herself only as "the Diva," wanted "to see some sort of cool on-line community that spoke to me and that I'd like to be a part of." The site is updated every day and includes lesbian news, reviews, poetry, and an advice column. It's also presenting quarterly showcases like tonight's Pussy Whipped Party, which will feature entertainment by Love Is a Verb, Heather's Damage, the Chicago Kings, and DJ Pussy Galore. The show starts at 8 at Subterranean, 2011 W. North. Admission is $10 and benefits DykeDiva and Women in the Director's Chair. Call 773-278-6799 or visit www.dykediva.com.