Stages, Sights & Sounds
With its lectures and panels, the Chicago Humanities Festival isn't exactly kid-friendly. But this CHF-produced theater showcase is. Over the course of 12 days, four ensembles from various parts of the world stage edgy shows aimed specifically at children. Meanwhile, two lectures should help the old at heart hold out until the CHF deploys its philosophical discussions in force next fall. The full lineup:
Theatre Motus arrives from Canada with Baobab, a tale, told in traditional west-African style, about a boy hatched from an egg produced by a baobab tree (5/3-5/7, Ethel M. Barber Theater, Northwestern University, 30 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston). Staged by Italy's Teatro di Piazza d'Occasione in an interactive environment where the walls and floor react to audience members' touch, Kindur: The Adventurous Journey of Icelandic Sheep provides a sheep's-eye view of the glaciers and meadows of Iceland (5/4-5/15, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago). Scotland's Puppet State Theatre manipulates scent as well as puppets in The Man Who Planted Trees, a fable about a shepherd and his dog who rejuvenate a barren valley (5/7-5/15, Museum of Contemporary Art). And a security guard tries to keep an overeager actor off an empty stage in Performance in Which Hopefully Nothing Happens, a show from Dutch troupe Theatregroep Max touted as "pure Monty Python for children" (5/11-5/15, Ethel M. Barber Theater).
Family Art and Adventure Day features activities, crafts, and a 1 PM performance by Chicago's own Barrel of Monkeys (Sat 5/14, 11 AM-2 PM, South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr., free).
Grown-up fun includes University of Illinois professor Gillen Wood linking the environmental devastation wreaked by World War I to our own abuse of natural resources in a talk called Reforesting the Soul: The Ecological Vision of Jean Giono (Sat 5/7, 1 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art). And in Stories on Skins: Animal Hides and Iceland's Heritage, Wood's U. of I. colleague Marianne Kalinke discusses the origins of two important Icelandic manuscripts, written in the Middle Ages on animal hides (Sat 5/7, 5 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art). 5/3-5/15, various days, times, and locations, 312-494-9509, chicagohumanities.org, $5-$10, $5 processing fee on all advance orders, $2 surcharge at the door, kids attend lectures free. —Asher Klein