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City of Fools: Chicago's Clown Theater Festival

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Send in the clowns--but keep the kids away. This three-week festival of clowning features adult-oriented shows by local and visiting artists, along with a late-night cabaret, a "clown jam," and workshops. Running March 29 through April 15 and featuring two to three shows a night, it's the first edition of what organizers hope will be an annual event. All performances take place at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division. Admission is $10 per show (except where noted otherwise below); a four-admission pass costs $30. For more information on the shows or to inquire about registering for the workshops, call 312-697-0723.

Following is the schedule for March 29 through April 5.

THURSDAY, MARCH 29

If You Don't Have Arms, You Cannot Surrender

The Theatre Corps' play, which employs both improvisation and scripted text, finds two leaders of a failed revolution facing life sentences. Blake Montgomery directs a cast that includes Rachel Klem and Kelly Ogden. 7 PM.

500 Clown Macbeth

Shakespeare's "Scottish play" is performed by three clowns--over and over again--in this performance by Molly Brennan, Paul Kalina, and festival organizer Adrian Danzig, known collectively as F. 9 PM.

FRIDAY, MARCH 30

Blah Blah Blah

Anthony Courser and Noel Williams offer the world premiere of their show about two clowns encountering their "others." 7 PM.

Clowns in the Vagina

The all-male quartet Asylum 137 (Anthony Courser, Voki Kalfayan, Shaw Nigro, and Jonathan Taylor) present an improvised performance under Sue Morrison's direction. 9 PM.

SATURDAY, MARCH 31

Dominique Jando Workshop

Jando, associate artistic director of the Big Apple Circus, guides a group of festival performers through classic clown scenarios. The workshop and follow-up discussion are free and open to observers. Noon to 2 PM.

If You Don't Have Arms, You Cannot Surrender

See listing for Thursday, March 29. 7 PM.

500 Clown Macbeth

See listing for Thursday, March 29. 9 PM.

Blah Blah Blah

See listing for Friday, March 30. 11 PM.

SUNDAY, APRIL 1

Does This Mean Anything to You?

Anne Goldman and Alice-Gray Lewis's clown show focuses on two clowns, Gerkle and Zetta. The piece is "a strikingly casual, sophisticated, unpretentious combination of vaudeville, physical performance, and character-intensive acting. . . . Goldman and Lewis's rapport [is] deep, their sense of when to break the fourth wall impeccable, and their bits . . . ravishingly well executed. Like Andy Kaufman and Ernie Kovacs, they understand that decontextualized pathos is a surer route to humor than strung-together gags," said Reader critic Brian Nemtusak when he reviewed the show last year. 7 PM.

Clowns in the Vagina

See listing for Friday, March 30. 9 PM.

MONDAY, APRIL 2

500 Clown Macbeth

See listing for Thursday, March 29. 7 PM.

Does This Mean Anything to You?

See listing for Sunday, April 1. 9 PM.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4

Blah Blah Blah

See listing for Friday, March 30. 7 PM.

Knot My Best Moments

Canadian solo artist Erin Bouvy explores "the comic territory of self-doubt." Sue Morrison directs. 9 PM.

THURSDAY, APRIL 5

If You Don't Have Arms, You Cannot Surrender

See listing for Thursday, March 29. 7 PM.

Knot My Best Moments

See listing for Wednesday, April 4. 9 PM.

Blah Blah Blah

See listing for Friday, March 30. 11 PM.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Amanda Rose.

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