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Estrogen Fest

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"Estrogen Fest 2005: Changing the Rules!" runs through 6/5 at the Storefront Theater in Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph. Presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs in conjunction with Prop Thtr, this annual showcase of women's performance features artists in the fields of theater, spoken word, poetry, dance, and music. The festival consists of two alternating programs of short works. Program A, "History, Fantasy, and Myth," runs through 6/4: Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 5 PM. Program B, "We're Still Here," runs through 6/5: Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 5 PM. Tickets are $15 per program and can be purchased by phone at 312-742-8497 or online at www.ticketweb.com; a festival pass for both programs is $25. Dinner packages are available on Saturday for persons attending both programs. More information is available at www.estrogenfest-chicago.com. Following is the schedule through 5/22; a complete schedule is available online at www.chicagoreader.com.

FRIDAY 20

N PROGRAM A: "HISTORY, FANTASY, AND MYTH" Stephanie Shaw's wry take on the gloriously solitary giantess Skadi, the Norse goddess of skiing, is a highlight of this program of short plays, dance, music, and poetry. Another standout monologue on the joys of solitude is Emily Schwartz's Rapunzel, about a fairy-tale character who's no princess in Lindley Gibbs's funny, feisty portrayal. Other works run the gamut from Miriam Weisfeld's A Brief Message From Amelia Earhart to the Boomer Babes' impersonation of June Cleaver to Brett Neveu's new play The Avon Lady. It all comes together fluidly, particularly given the physical comedy of the scene changes, accompanied by quotes from Eda Edson's 1953 book The World Is Your Stage, instructing women on how to be gracious and charming. The directors' only real misstep is introducing Marilyn Campbell's lackluster War Protest 1914 by having Yolanda Androzzo march while reading the last of her three poems. --Jenn Goddu A musical trio led by percussionist Allison Stanley performs. 7:30 PM.

SATURDAY 21

Program A: "History, Fantasy, and Myth" See listing for Fri 5/20. 5 PM.

N PROGRAM B: "WE'RE STILL HERE" Laura McKenzie, Caitlin Blackwell, and Amy Dunlap's charismatic performances in the short play Funk Cloud, making a comical point about dealing with life's pressures, are a lot of fun. Unfortunately this piece, one of several on the 85-minute program, runs only through May 29. Many of the other works--short plays, dance, and performance pieces--make the personal political. Mother-daughter duo Marilyn Campbell and Maria Merrin are honest and engaging as they reveal their family history through anecdotes about hair in Mixin' It Up, and Nana Shineflug in her performance/dance piece Gotcha uses apparently random acts to underline her life philosophy. Sean Graney's new play, about a woman who refuses a cesarean, is promising but ultimately unaffecting, its impact blunted by this program's staging, aimed mostly at filling the space. But Cat Dean and Jill Heyser do well in Tetsuo--a dance on stilts whose grace and presence are empowering. --Jenn Goddu A musical trio led by percussionist Allison Stanley performs. 7:30 PM.

SUNDAY 22

Program B: "We're Still Here" See listing for Sat 5/21. 5 PM.

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