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InterFest 2000

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Chicago theater is as racially and culturally varied as the city itself, yet to actor-director Stephan Turner--and many others--it often seems that off-Loop theater is still fragmented in terms of the work companies present and the audiences they target. "We live together, we work together, and then when we get ready to do theater we all go into our separate microcosms," says Turner, artistic director of the Lakeview-based Stage Actors Ensemble of Chicago. That's what has prompted the SAEC to present what Turner hopes will be the first annual edition of a theater festival specifically devoted to work that addresses issues of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. The event, which runs through April 29, features work by local and out-of-town artists, including solo performers Ryan Anglin and Miriam Lewis and the Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago. All shows take place at the Performance Loft, located in the Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, 656 W. Barry. Prices range from $5 to $8; call 773-529-8337 for reservations and information.

Festival listings run on a week-by-week basis; following is the schedule for April 20 through 27.

THURSDAY, APRIL 20

The Zoo Story

Edward Albee's early one-act, about a desperate young drifter and a prissy executive who meet on a park bench, is presented by the Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago. "Albee's . . . characters still fascinate. . . . And so does his story, with its undercurrents of sex, violence, and class warfare. Even when its presentation is flawed, as it is in this . . . production, Albee's script is strong enough to prevail. But just barely. Darryl Maximilian Robinson's direction is eccentric to say the least. . . . And for some reason Robinson has chosen to double cast both roles, . . . mixing and matching his players so that the audience might catch any one of four possible combinations. This trick may work for improv comedy, but in a play this dependent on subtext and the chemistry between two people, it seems to ensure that even the best night will seem vaguely amateurish," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. 8 PM; $8.

FRIDAY, APRIL 21

Swacko in America

Ryan Anglin portrays multiple characters in this one-man show, which examines the "common reality that America, 'the land of opportunity,' is also the land of crazy people, phonies, and those who have been left behind during these prosperous times." 9:30 PM; $8.

SATURDAY, APRIL 22

The Zoo Story

See listing for Thursday, April 20. 7 PM; $8.

TUESDAY, APRIL 25

The Valerie of Now

Miriam Lewis performs Peter Hedges's monologue about a teenage girl facing her first menstrual period. 7 PM; $5.

Swacko in America

See listing for Friday, April 21. 7:30 PM; $8.

THURSDAY, APRIL 27

The Valerie of Now

See listing for Tuesday, April 25. 7 PM; $5.

Swacko in America

See listing for Friday, April 21. 8 PM; $8.

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