PAC/edge Performance Festival | Festival | Chicago Reader

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PAC/edge Performance Festival


This multidisciplinary event, presented by Performing Arts Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, runs weekends 3/11-4/10. The avant-garde showcase, now in its third year, features presentations by some of the city's most adventurous artists working in theater, performance, circus arts, puppetry, storytelling, dance, music, video, and sound and installation art. The shows range from family-oriented to adults-only. Participants include Goat Island, the Curious Theatre Branch, Free Street, Theater Oobleck, the Hypocrites, the Neo-Futurists, Plasticene, Teatro Luna, Mathew Wilson, Mad Shak Dance Company, and many more.

All activities take place at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; the sprawling arts complex hosts often simultaneous performances and installations on its main and studio stages and in offices, lounges, hallways, stairwells, and other spaces--even the alley behind the building. The fest also offers workshops and panels with participating artists as shown below.

Prices for most events range from $5 to $20, though workshops generally cost more and some events and installations are free; see listings for details. For tickets and more information, and to register for workshops, call Performing Arts Chicago at 773-722-5463. Tickets can also be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 312-902-1500 or logging on to Following is the schedule through 3/13; a complete schedule is online at


For the Fashion Impaired

Maggie Morgan presents an experimental, performative fashion piece. a 6:30-7:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

Scheduled Activity

Deva Eveland's performance installation features "a series of social occasions and events attended by the artist only. Viewers may safely watch from the outside," a press release advises. a 6:30-10:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

Glimpse: Videography of Eye Cycle

Mad Shak Dance Company presents a video installation by Molly Shanahan--a component of the ongoing movement project Eye Cycle, which deals with the movement of light, shadow, framing and perspective, and captures the intimacy of the dance through layered images that evoke the dreaminess of solitude. Shown in a common space of the Athenaeum, audiences can experience its meditative quality in passing. a 6:30-9 PM, second-floor women's bathroom. Free.

Pluto: The Opera

Playwright Idris Goodwin and composer Justin J. Mayer created this music-theater piece about "connections between people and places, love and violence, villains and leaders, and race and gender." It's premiered by Free Street and Hermit Arts. a 7 PM, Studio 1. $15.

CC Petitmal

7 PM, Studio 2. $15.

The Hunchback Variations

Chicago's experimental, directorless Theater Oobleck presents Mickle Maher's comedy, which takes the form of a panel discussion on sound between the deaf bell ringer of Notre Dame cathedral, Quasimodo, and the hearing-impaired composer Beethoven. The piece begins as a postmodern parody of academic conferences and ends as a moving meditation on collaboration and the creative process. (JHe) a 7:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

Windmilled: Tilting at Don Quixote

The Neo-Futurists' noble meditation on noble futility--written and performed by Sharon Greene, Shawn Huelle, and Jay Torrence--never quite achieves the associative synergy it seeks. Riffing elliptically off Cervantes's novel rather than retracing, recasting, or unpacking it, the performers intertwine two main narratives: one revisiting Greene's tenure with Planned Parenthood, the other recounting Huelle's drive to the Arctic Ocean with a crazy friend. In this show the Neo-Futurists venture further into kinetic-art territory than usual, with frequently affecting results. (BN) a 9 PM, Studio 2. $15.

Masters of the Movement

HBO Def Poet Nikki Patin hosts a spoken-word program. a 9:30 PM, Studio 1. $10.

I Draw You You Draw Me In

Writer-performer Kata Mejia's solo piece--winner of the 2005 PAC/edge commission--explores "the boundaries between rational and unconscious behavior in relationships." a 10 PM, Studio 3. $15.

Taste of PAC/edge

Opening Night Celebration The festival kicks off with a sampler platter of performances by Asimina Chremos, Flapperjack, and The Girlie-Q Variety Hour, films, and more. a 8-10:30 PM, main stage. $25 in advance, $35 at the door; hors d'oeuvres and beverages included.


I Draw You You Draw Me In

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 2 PM, Studio 3. $15.


This panel discussion focuses on two processes of creating performance work: starting from written text, and starting from "visual, musical, or physical imagery." Panelists include playwrights Idris Goodwin and Beau O'Reilly, Reader critic Kerry Reid, Julia Rhoads of Lucky Plush Productions, Plasticene's Brian Shaw, and composer/musician Michael Zerang. a 3 PM, Studio 1. Free.

Any Illusion: A Perversion of New England in One Short Act

Seth Bockley's solo piece, presented by Walk-about Theater, charts "the lonely life of an American Saint through the purgatory of New England." a 3 PM, Studio 2. $15.

8 Films/Videos

A selection of recent work from the SAIC department of film, video, and new media. a 4 PM, Studio 3. $5.

CC Petitmal

4:30 PM, Studio 2. $15.

The Role of Tourist as Seen in the Performance Piece: The Techno Buddhist Is a Tourist

"Two artists wrestle over their responsibilities to society and the process of creating an interactive performance" in this piece by Sheelah Murthy and Anuj Vaidya, aka Mrs. Rao's Growl. a 5 PM, Studio 1. $5.

Scheduled Activity

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 6:30-10:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

Glimpse: Videography of Eye Cycle

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 7-10 PM, second-floor women's bathroom. Free.

The Turtle at Play

Beau O'Reilly's new play, presented by the Curious Theatre Branch, concerns "two disenfranchised young Americans . . . obsessed with studying the habits of a hundred-year-old turtle." a 7 PM, Studio 1. $15.

L'Air Lair

Intrigued by performances in tiny spaces, choreographer Asimina Chremos and director Kairol Rosenthal stage a work for an audience of five people at a time. a 7, 8, 9, and 10 PM, vending machine room. $10.

Windmilled: Tilting at Don Quixote

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 7:30 PM, Studio 2. $15.

For the Fashion Impaired

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 7:30-8:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

Discarded Landscape

Weather Talking's world premiere is the first winner of the PAC/edge commission. a 8 PM, Studio 3. $15.

Drinking & Writing

The Neo-Futurists' site-specific show, written and performed by Sean Benjamin, Steve Mosqueda, and Phil Ridarelli, examines correlations between literature and booze as reflected in the lives of such famous alcoholics as Faulkner, London, and Mencken. The best moments are those when the performers reveal something about themselves; the worst are those when they strain to say something profound and instead offer a prettified banality. (JHe) a 8:30 PM, Curtain Call Club. $20 (includes beverages).

The Girlie-Q Variety Hour

J.T. Newman presents "a neo-burlesque, vaudville-inspired performance event with a queer edge." a 9 PM, main stage. $20.

Pluto: The Opera

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 9:30 PM, Studio 1. $15.

Performance of Sleep in One Long Act Without Intermission

Live Action Cartoonists' world premiere is inspired by true stories about sleep and death. a 10 PM, Studio 2. $15.

The Hunchback Variations

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 10:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.


MadJoy Approach: The Basic Animal of Acting and Writing: Free the Body and the Mind Will Follow

Free Street presents a workshop on essential body/mind skills for performers--stillness, non-self-conscious freedom of movement, breath and emotion, and active writing. Appropriate for adults and children 14 years and older. a Noon-3 PM, Studio 1. $20-$25.

Windmilled: Tilting at Don Quixote

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 3 PM, Studio 2. $15.

Discarded Landscape

See listing for Sat 3/12. a 3:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

The Role of Tourist as Seen in the Performance Piece: The Techno Buddhist Is a Tourist

See listing for Sat 3/12. a 4 PM, Studio 1. $5.

L'Air Lair

See listing for Sat 3/12. a 5, 6, 7, and 8 PM, vending machine room. $10.

Glimpse: Videography of Eye Cycle

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 5-7:30 PM, second-floor women's bathroom. Free.

CC Petitmal

5:30 PM, Studio 2. $15.

Action Item: DOG Does Not Perform

In video format, the DOG theater group "offers honest motives, clear dialogue and compelling reasons for its utter and complete absence onstage." a 6 PM, Studio 1. $15.

I Draw You You Draw Me In

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 6:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

For the Fashion Impaired

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 6:30-7:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

La Probadita S-e-x-oh!

Teatro Luna's world premiere, based on autobiographical writing and interviews, examines virgin/whore stereotypes about Latina sexuality. a 7:30 PM, Studio 2. $15.

The Turtle at Play

See listing for Sat 3/12. a 8 PM, Studio 1. $15.

I Draw You You Draw Me In

See listing for Fri 3/11. a 8:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

Drinking & Writing

See listing for Sat 3/12. a 8:30 PM, Curtain Call Club. $20.


Industry of the Ordinary

Mathew Wilson and Adam Brooks will, over the course of the festival, create works that challenge you to look at the ordinary in a new light. See documentation at Ongoing during festival hours, throughout the venue. Free.


by Lori Hall-Araujo. This art installation, inspired by Plasticene's production of Refuge, creates an atmosphere of accidental encounters and serves up slices of life throughout the Athenaeum. Free.


by Sandra Binion. Based on the artist's recent trip to Cuba, this piece explores the double image of a "forbidden" place--Cuba forbidden to Americans and America forbidden to Cubans, altering the viewer's perception of political and cultural myths. Second floor foyer. Free.


by Ryan Mitchell Flesher. In this 8-minute piece, a swimmer crosses a void. And it's not a matter of winning or losing--there are no competitors, spectators, rules, or anything generally associated with swimming as sport or recreational activity. Projected on front windows of Athenaeum. Free.


by Malin Lindelow. This installation reclaims the ancient, cross-cultural tradition of expressing grief from the gut. In keeping with the communal process of sharing and witnessing grief, festival-goers will have the opportunity to add their wails to the soundscape throughout the festival. a Wail Recordings: March 13, 20, 27 and April 3 and 10 from 5:00-7:00. Audience members can add their voices to the recording 5-7 PM Sun 3/13-4/10. Free.


by Mrs. Rao's Growl (Sheelah Murthy and Anuj Vaidya). Based on a series of durational public performances, this installation attempts to move beyond the confines of language and into the space of psychic seepage. Through laughter, it aims to break the doldrums of the everyday routine, to affirm the human spirit, and to strengthen our human connections. First-floor corridor. Free.

Intermission Machines: Self-Running Random Shadow Generators

by The Rubber Monkey Puppet Company. Borrowing from the philosophy of Contraptionism, these machines create never-ending, never-repeating shadow puppet collages on their own. There will be several machines dispersed throughout the Athenaeum Theater for the public to casually enjoy as they explore the festival. See for more info. Free.

Tell Us a Secret and Mundane Tasks

Anti Gravity Surprise asks viewers to perform "cultural research" in these installations throughout the Athenaeum that explore the concept of work as identity. Free.

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