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This multidisciplinary event, presented by Performing Arts Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, runs through Sunday, April 10. The avant-garde showcase, now in its third year, features established and emerging artists (including a number of SAIC students and alumni) 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 www.ticketmaster.com.

FRIDAY 8

Bracing Nerves

Two women performing as 3 Card Molly stroll through the Athenaeum "evoking images of architectural decay and bodily illness." a 6:30 PM, throughout the building. Free.

Untitled

Erin Jones "engages patrons as they enter and exit." a 6:30 PM, building entrance. Free.

Frozen as a Picture

Cristal Smith and others pose as wax renditions of Frida Kahlo, Elizabeth Berkeley, the Black Madonna, and Michael Jackson. a 6:30 PM, throughout the building. Free.

For the Fashion Impaired

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

Glimpse: Videography of Eye Cycle

Mad Shak Dance Company presents a video installation by Molly Shanahan--a component of her movement project Eye Cycle, which deals with light, shadow, framing and perspective--that conveys a sense of solitude through layered, meditative images of dancers and flowers. a 6:30-9:30 PM, second-floor women's bathroom. 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.

Pluto: The Opera

Playwright Idris Goodwin and composer Justin J. Mayer created this music-theater piece about life in "Pluto"--aka Chicago. It's premiered by Free Street and Hermit Arts; Tony Sancho directs. Too often this hip-hop history comes across like a pageant at a progressive middle school. The politics are Pilsen-mural subtle, but Goodwin plays them out in interesting ways. His libretto resists the music, turning Pluto: The Opera into an epic rap recitation. The piece may fail, but it marks Goodwin as an inventive talent in progress. (TA) a 7 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. This tedious piece about mercy killing and the death penalty is cartoonish for the first hour--when it's dominated by an annoying kiddie-show format apparently meant to justify the fact we're being told lots of things we already know--and deadly serious for the last 30 minutes. (LM) a 7 PM, Studio 2. $15.

WHEN WILL THE SEPTEMBER ROSES BLOOM? LAST NIGHT WAS ONLY A COMEDY: A DOUBLE PERFORMANCE

Even intelligent, well-intentioned people can fail utterly. Goat Island's new 125-minute piece, created over three years, is an impenetrable monolith that numbs the mind and butt. Drawing from at least 17 sources ranging from Preston Sturges's Palm Beach Story to Paul Celan's poetry and Simone Weil's essays, the piece uses Fibonacci numbers for its structure and aims to comment on the war in Iraq, torture, and loss. The audience is encouraged to see its two alternate versions. But near the end of the first I seriously considered the possibility that we were to gain insight into torture by being tortured ourselves, challenged to leave prematurely but too polite to do so. Created through a byzantine process and lacking Goat Island's usual compelling movement, this intellectual exercise stymies unpacking, though it's sporadically engaging when the performers pretend to be dogs or deliver lectures on household repair and ocular oddities. --Laura Molzahn. a Version 2, 7:30 PM, main stage. $20.

A Night of Toy Theater and Intimate Puppetry

The Incurable Theater presents short pieces of traditional toy, puppet, and mask theater, including a marionette version of Faust. Not suitable for young children. a 7:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

Dis*Card*

Inspired by objects found in Chicago streets and alleys, Erica Mott's site-specific piece "attempts to capture and heighten the magic, mystery, and tragedy in everyday activities and interactions." a 8 PM, alley behind the Athenaeum. $5 and a piece of trash.

Nomy Lamm

Writer and activist Lamm delivers a cabaret performance, complete with "radical accordion." a 8:15 PM, Curtain Call Club. $10.

Loong: A Three Dimensional Shadow Puppetry Performance

The Rubber Monkey Puppet Company presents a shadow puppet production, in which mesmerizing puppets seem to sweep toward the audience thanks to 3-D glasses handed out with the program. The privacy provided by the glasses and the company's surreal shadow puppets (which resemble the Indonesian variety) bring audience members into a dreamlike world, enhanced by three live musicians. Unfortunately, the clunky narration (the story involves a heroic alchemist trying to save his village from drought) jerks the audience right out of this experience. (JV) a 9:30 PM, Studio 2. $15.

Refuge

Plasticene offers a physical-theater piece about "four people who are thrown off the edges of life and are struggling to find balance as they fall." a 9:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

R White Suit Science (Refitted!)

Writer, actor, and director Shawn Reddy seeks to explode the idea that you can understand history by memorizing a collection of immutable facts: his eccentric plays based on historical research find the fault lines that indicate tectonic shifts in how we interpret the past. In White Suit Science, first performed last fall, Reddy and the Magpies deconstruct the mythic power of the southern-style linen suit and the degree to which the image of such men as Mark Twain and Colonel Sanders in ice-cream suits both defines the wearers and obscures inconvenient truths. This is a fascinating postmodern analysis of whiteness and the ongoing whitewashing of history. (JHe) a 10 PM, Studio 1. $15.

R Come and Go, Not I, and Footfalls

Samuel Beckett's theatrical genius reveals itself best in his short plays, as director Sean Graney illustrates in the Hypocrites' trio of finely done one-acts. Stripping his work to its essence, Beckett never loses sight of the fact that these are not philosophical tracts but seriocomic pieces written for specific actors playing specific parts. The introverted woman in Not I, who spends her time endlessly ruminating about the past, is not the same at all as the hysterical middle-aged woman who chatters obsessively about the past to her mother in Footfalls, and neither resembles the three backbiting gossips in Come and Go. That Graney and his ensemble are able to sharply delineate all five characters, often given only a handful of lines, speaks volumes about their own theatrical gifts. (JHe) a 10 PM, main stage. $15.

SATURDAY 9

Neo-Futurism Performance Workshop

Neo-Futurists founder Greg Allen introduces participants to the basic theory and practice of Neo-Futurism--"a new form of personal, immediate, non-illusory, audience-interactive performance." No performance experience necessary. Limited to 15 participants, aged 16 and up; part two is on Sunday. a Noon-3 PM, Studio 1. $60.

Down in the New Chair Some More

Twelve scenes and short plays by School of the Art Institute student playwrights are directed by Beau O'Reilly and Stefan Brun. a 1 PM, Studio 2. $5.

Escapiece

Mark Baldridge plays an original composition using the Athenaeum's fire escape as an instrument. a 2 PM, fire escape. Free.

Rules for Good Manners in the Modern World

T.U.T.A. (The Utopian Theatre Asylum) performs Jean-Luc Lagarce's satire of feminine etiquette, a gimlet-eyed but oddly affectionate look at social pretense. (KR) a 3 PM, Studio 3. $15.

Arts in Community

A panel of visual and performing artists, arts administrators, and community organizers discuss the roles and responsibilities that exist between communities and the arts that serve them. Participants include members of Teatro Luna and About Face Theatre. a 4 PM, Studio 1. Free.

Still

SAIC's performance department presents "a movement-based performance about the resilience of hope, inspired by elementary school PE activities, the lungfish, and an endless red ruffle." a 4:30 PM, Studio 2. $5.

The Memory Engine

Mathew Wilson's conceptual art presentation is the culmination of a festival-long process in which "memory collectors," equipped with audio recording equipment, will collect memories from festival attendees and feed them into a "memory engine." Now the collected memories will be "regurgitated during a performance in which the memories may be half remembered, completely forgotten, or blended together." a 5-11:30 PM, Curtain Call Club. Free.

A Night of Toy Theater and Intimate Puppetry See listing for Fri 4/8. a 5:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

Untitled

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 6:30 PM, building entrance. Free.

Water Cycle

Blake Noah and Gregory Stimac exhale on a window and collect the condensation with a straw. a 6:30 PM, main lobby. Free.

Scheduled Activity

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 6:30-10:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

Glimpse: Videography of Eye Cycle

See listing for Fri 4/8. 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." The first act ends with a homicide that paves the way for the introduction of Inspector Emily, portrayed by Teresa Weed--whose mere presence enhances the performance of every player around her. But the story surrounding her is downright soporific in its unoriginality. (MSB) a 7 PM, Studio 1. $15.

R L'Air Lair

Intrigued by performances in tiny spaces, dancer-choreographer Asimina Chremos and director Kairol Rosenthal stage a work for an audience of five people at a time in the Athenaeum's cramped vending-machine room. Chremos is joined by singer Dan Mohr, whose beautiful voice fills the room with a traditional Corsican song while Chremos dabbles her bare feet in imaginary water; the fact that the song is a lament by a man leaving his loved ones to go off to war gives the piece a political edge. At 20 minutes L'Air Lair is the perfect length, though the price is a bit steep. (LM) a 7, 8, 9, and 10 PM, vending-machine room. $10.

Up and Down (Dialogue With the Unseen)

Aimee Lee answers written questions from the audience with her violin. a 7 PM, main stairwell. Free.

Brianne Waychoff

Waychoff explores "feminist ideals and hysterics as she tap dances herself to exhaustion." a 7 PM, main lobby. Free.

When Will the September Roses Bloom? Last Night Was Only a Comedy: A Double Performance

See listing for Fri 4/8. a Version 1, 7:30 PM, main stage. $20.

R Una Probadita de S-E-X-Oh!

Teatro Luna's world premiere, based on autobiographical writing and interviews, examines virgin/whore stereotypes about Latina sexuality. This probadita (taste) of the ensemble's views on sex, presented in monologues and short scenes, is original and occasionally shattering. At times this work in progress feels a little long and somewhat choppy. But it's written with sharp honesty and performed with an easy, relaxed humor. (JV) a 7:30 PM, Studio 2. $15.

For the Fashion Impaired

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 7:30-8:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

Discarded Landscape

Weather Talking's obscure, pretentious world premiere, directed by Brian Torrey Scott, is far too long and doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The program lists the characters as a father, son, and daughter while the antics onstage suggest they belong to a highly dysfunctional family. By the end it appears the mother (an offstage narrator played by Scott) has died and none of them is dealing with it very well, which somehow results in incestuous grappling between the father and daughter, then between the daughter and son. Jeff Harms, engaging and often funny as the father, is the only good thing about this nerve-jangling piece. (LM) a 8 PM, Studio 3. $15.

Dis*Card*

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 8 PM, alley behind the Athenaeum. $5 and a piece of trash.

Anti-Static

Lou Mallozzi, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Zerang, and Guillermo Gregorio present an evening of improvised music. a 10 PM, Studio 1. $10.

Performance of Sleep in One Long Act Without Intermission

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 10 PM, Studio 2. $15.

R Come and Go, Not I, and Footfalls

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 10 PM, main stage. $15.

Refuge

Plasticene offers a physical-theater piece about "four people who are thrown off the edges of life and are struggling to find balance as they fall." a 10:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

SUNDAY 10

Down in the New Chair Some More

See listing for Sat 4/9. a Noon, Studio 2. $5.

Neo-Futurism Performance Workshop

Part two; see listing for Sat 4/9. a Noon-3 PM, Studio 1. $60.

Rules for Good Manners in the Modern World

See listing for Sat 4/9. a 1 PM, Studio 3. $15.

500 Clown: The Making of a Monster

This documentary film depicts the making of 500 Clown Frankenstein. a 3 PM, Studio 2. $10.

Life Coaching

Sam Amada offers advice to individual audience members. a 3 PM, Curtain Call Club. Free.

Untitled

Anthony Cobb walks in audience members' shoes. a 3 PM, north stairwell. Free.

Dis*Card*

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 3 PM, alley behind the Athenaeum. $5 and a piece of trash.

Discarded Landscape

See listing for Sat 4/9. a 3:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

When Will the September Roses Bloom? Last Night Was Only a Comedy: A Double Performance

See listing for Fri 4/8. a Version 2, 4 PM, main stage. $20.

Pluto: The Opera

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 4 PM, Studio 1. $15.

R L'Air Lair

See listing for Sat 4/9. a 5, 6, 7, and 8 PM, vending-machine room. $10.

Glimpse: Videography of Eye Cycle

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 5-7:30 PM, second-floor women's bathroom. Free.

Q & A/Reception

Many of the installation and visual artists represented in this year's festival, including Anti Gravity Surprise, Sandra Binion, Mad Shak Dance Company, and Mathew Wilson, take part in a question-and-answer session and reception. a 5:30-7 PM, Curtain Call Club. Free.

Loong: A Three Dimensional Shadow Puppetry Performance

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 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. $10.

R The Hunchback Variations

Chicago's experimental, directorless Theater Oobleck presents Mickle Maher's comedy, which takes the form of a panel discussion between Quasimodo, the deaf bell ringer of Notre Dame cathedral, and the hearing-impaired composer Beethoven. Maher is a master at creating complex, paradoxical works that encompass their own contradictions. Here he mocks academic examinations of the creative process even as he engages in a complicated deconstruction of creativity. (JHe) a 6:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

Untitled

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 6:30 PM, building entrance. Free.

For the Fashion Impaired

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 6:30-7:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

R Una Probadita de S-E-X-Oh!

See listing for Sat 4/9. a 7:30 PM, Studio 2. $15.

R Come and Go, Not I, and Footfalls

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 7 PM, main stage. $15.

The Turtle at Play

See listing for Sat 4/9. a 8 PM, Studio 1. $15.

A Night of Toy Theater and Intimate Puppetry

See listing for Fri 4/8. a 8:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

ONGOING

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 www.industryoftheordinary.com. Ongoing during festival hours, throughout the Athenaeum. Free.

Chops

Art installation by Lori Hall-Araujo, inspired by Plasticene's production of Refuge (see listing for Fri 4/8), creates "accidental encounters" and "slices of life" throughout the Athenaeum. Free.

Mirage

Sandra Binion's recent trip to Cuba inspired her exploration of political and cultural myths surrounding the island nation's identity as a "forbidden" place. Second-floor foyer. Free.

Clean

Ryan Mitchell Flesher's eight-minute piece depicts a swimmer crossing a void. Projected on front windows of the Athenaeum.

Wail

Malin Lindelow's installation seeks to reclaim the ancient tradition of expressing grief. Festivalgoers will have the opportunity to add their wails to the soundscape throughout the festival. a Sun 5 PM.

Laugh

This installation by Mrs. Rao's Growl (Sheelah Murthy and Anuj Vaidya) attempts to move into the space of "psychic seepage" through laughter. First-floor corridor. Free.

Intermission Machines: Self-Running Random Shadow Generators

The Rubber Monkey Puppet Company has set up several "intermission machines" throughout the Athenaeum to create shadow puppet collages. 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.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ivana Vucic & T.J. Kacunic.

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