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Puppetropoli Chicago

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Jiminy Cricket! The city of Chicago has teamed up with a slew of local agencies, cultural institutions, and theater companies to produce a puppetry festival whose offerings range from family-oriented to adult in nature and display a wide variety of styles and cultural sensibilities. Puppetropolis Chicago officially opens June 14 and runs through June 24 at various locations around the city. For general festival information (including details on the workshops and exhibits that complement the performances), call 312-744-3315 or visit www.cityofchicago.org/specialevents.

THURSDAY, JUNE 14

Urban Dream Capsule

You've heard of reality TV; get ready for reality window displays at Sears's new Loop outlet, which is hosting the U.S. premiere of this "interactive window theater" piece from Australia. Four artists from down under have taken up residence in the department store's street-level windows, where they're visible nonstop, unguarded by shades or shutters from the eyes of passersby. (Not that anything they do could be as odd as what you can see on State Street any day of the week.) Sears on State, 2 N. State, running 24 hours a day. Free; call 773-722-5463.

Opening Celebration

Chicago's Redmoon Theater, a local pioneer in combining puppet techniques with experimental theater, officially launches Puppetropolis Chicago with this open-air event. The evening will showcase performers on portable "Street Stages" designed by veteran Chicago puppet-theater artist Blair Thomas. International puppet pros will be joined by local youngsters who developed original shows this spring in workshops at community centers and parks around the city. The celebration also includes free admission to the Field Museum and its two puppet-related exhibits, "Julie Taymor: Playing With Fire" and "Kinetosaurs." Field Museum of Natural History, north lawn, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., 6 to 9 PM. Free; call 312-744-3315.

Short Stories

Teatro Hugo & Ines's new production combines puppetry with mime and dance, as Hugo Suarez and Ines Pasic turn their knees, hands, feet, and elbows into puppet characters with the aid of ingenious miniature costumes and their own fabulously flexible joints. Suarez, a onetime street mime born in Lima, Peru, teamed up with Pasic (who hails from Bosnia and Herzegovina) in the mid-80s; the two are well-known from their appearances at festivals around the world (they last appeared in Chicago in the mid-90s). This charming and imaginative family show is presented by Performing Arts Chicago in association with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington, 7 PM. $15; call 773-722-5463.

Tedium

Chicago's experimental, directorless Theater Oobleck presents a puppet play created by playwright Mickle Maher and puppet designer Shoshanna Utchenik, about a small theater company whose terrible show turns into a surprise hit. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 8 PM. $10, "more if you've got it, free if you're broke"; call 773-561-3039.

FRIDAY, JUNE 15

Urban Dream Capsule

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Sears on State, 2 N. State, running 24 hours a day. Free; call 773-722-5463.

Isidor's Cheek

This kids' show about a boy who travels the world in search of his cheek is presented by the Sandglass Theater of Putney, Vermont. Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 4:30 PM. Free, but reservations are required; call 312-742-2001.

Echo Trace

Heather Henson's abstract theater piece evokes the cycles of nature. Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph, 7 PM. $15; call 312-742-8497.

Short Stories

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington, 7 PM. $15; call 773-722-5463.

Iktu Blas

Michael Montenegro's puppet play, presented by the Actors Gymnasium and the Lookingglass Theatre Company, portrays a vicious despot who represents "our own infantile refusal to accept the fact of death." Said Reader critic Jennifer Vanasco when she reviewed the show's original run: "In [this] darkly funny [work], one becomes a monster by abandoning one's conscience in exchange for power, a process embodied in the interior world of the fictional Iktu Blas as he transforms himself into a dictator. Since the play has little dialogue and all six actors wear large, slightly menacing papier-mache masks, the story of Blas's rise is told almost completely in pantomime. Rick Kubes excels at the subtle gestures needed to define Blas's slimy charisma, but he founders when he needs to convey meaning--especially when the usually capable ensemble is not backing him up. More effective are the tiny puppets used to illustrate Blas's feelings and memories. . . . The play occasionally slips into cliches and sentimentality, [and] it is sometimes obscure. But that's a small price to pay for an hour of interesting issues thoughtfully raised." Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, 8 PM. $15; call 847-328-2795.

Tedium

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 8 PM. $10, "more if you've got it, free if you're broke"; call 773-561-3039.

Combustible Puppet Cabaret

Local and out-of-town puppet artists demonstrate their work in what the festival promises will be "an intimate and experimental environment." Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph, 10 PM. $12; call 312-742-8497.

SATURDAY, JUNE 16

Urban Dream Capsule

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Sears on State, 2 N. State, running 24 hours a day. Free; call 773-722-5463.

Isidor's Cheek

See listing for Friday, June 15. Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 2 PM. Free, but reservations are required; call 312-742-2001.

Echo Trace

See listing for Friday, June 15. Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph, 2 and 7 PM. $15; call 312-742-8497.

Short Stories

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington, 3, 6, and 8 PM. $15; call 773-722-5463.

Iktu Blas

See listing for Friday, June 15. Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, 5 and 8 PM. $15 for the 5 PM performance, $50 for the 8 PM show (benefit performance with postshow reception); call 847-328-2795.

Autumn Portraits

The Sandglass Theater of Putney, Vermont, presents an adult-oriented program of vignettes in which rod puppets by Eric Bass confront their pasts, their selves, and their deaths. Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 7 PM. Free; call 312-742-2001.

Tedium

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 8 PM. $10, "more if you've got it, free if you're broke"; call 773-561-3039.

Combustible Puppet Cabaret

See listing for Friday, June 15. Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph, 10 PM. $12; call 312-742-8497.

SUNDAY, JUNE 17

Urban Dream Capsule

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Sears on State, 2 N. State, running 24 hours a day. Free; call 773-722-5463.

Echo Trace

See listing for Friday, June 15. Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph, 2 and 7 PM. PM. $12; call 312-742-8497.

Short Stories

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington, 2 and 7 PM. $15; call 773-722-5463.

Tedium

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 3 PM. $10, "more if you've got it, free if you're broke"; call 773-561-3039.

Iktu Blas

See listing for Friday, June 15. Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, 7 PM. $15; call 847-328-2795.

MONDAY, JUNE 18

Urban Dream Capsule

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Sears on State, 2 N. State, running 24 hours a day. Free; call 773-722-5463.

Love the World, Protect the Green

Turkey's Karagoz Puppeteers use shadow puppets to depict a man's adventures with evil forces. Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington, 2 and 7 PM. Free; call 312-742-2001.

Tedium

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 8 PM. $10, "more if you've got it, free if you're broke"; call 773-561-3039.

Galway's Shadow

Redmoon Theater's new show, created by Jim Lasko and designer Cherise Mericle, uses the windows of the Museum of Contemporary Art facade as giant screens for a display of shadow puppetry. The production also features music by Mark Messing and MaestroMatic, which will be broadcast over antique radios encircling the museum's plaza. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 9 PM (preview performance). Free; call 773-388-9031.

TUESDAY, JUNE 19

Urban Dream Capsule

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Sears on State, 2 N. State, running 24 hours a day. Free; call 773-722-5463.

Galway's Shadow

See listing for Monday, June 18. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 9 PM (preview performance). Free; call 773-388-9031.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20

Urban Dream Capsule

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Sears on State, 2 N. State, running 24 hours a day. Free; call 773-722-5463.

Peek-a-boo!

Very young children and their parents are the target audience for this production by Loren Kahn Puppet Theater of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which examines "the pleasures of being alive and the effects of domestic violence on children." Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 10 AM and 2 PM. Free, but reservations are required; call 312-742-2001.

Tedium

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 8 PM. $10, "more if you've got it, free if you're broke"; call 773-561-3039.

Breathing Underwater

Running With Scissors' site-specific show, developed by the troupe in collaboration with puppet and mask designer Cynthia Von Orthal and directed by Ann Boyd, evokes lakefront life. Theater on the Lake, Fullerton and Lake Shore Dr., 7:30 PM. $10; call 312-742-7994.

Galway's Shadow

See listing for Monday, June 18. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 9 PM. Free; call 773-388-9031.

THURSDAY, JUNE 21

Urban Dream Capsule

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Sears on State, 2 N. State, running 24 hours a day. Free; call 773-722-5463.

Peek-a-boo!

See listing for Wednesday, June 20. Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 11 AM. Free, but reservations are required; call 312-742-2001.

Puppet Happy Hour Cabaret

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs' "Thursdaysomething" series showcases short works by veteran and emerging puppet artists in an informal cafe setting. Chicago Cultural Center, Randolph Cafe, 78 E. Washington, first floor (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 6:30 PM. Free; call 312-744-6630.

Snuffhouse Dustlouse

Great Britain's Faulty Optic Theater of Animation presents an adult-oriented puppet play about a woman whose isolation is disturbed by an intruder. Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph, 7 PM. $15; call 312-742-8497.

Breathing Underwater

See listing for Wednesday, June 20. Theater on the Lake, Fullerton and Lake Shore Dr., 7:30 PM. $10; call 312-742-7994.

Spirit

Great Britain's Improbable Theatre's family-oriented fantasy about three brothers employs improvisational comedy and inventive scenic design. Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State, 7:30 PM. $20; call 773-722-5463.

Iktu Blas

See listing for Friday, June 15. Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, 8 PM. $15; call 847-328-2795.

Maquina Hamlet

El Periferico de Objetos presents its adaptation of Hamletmachine, German experimental playwright Heiner Muller's Shakespearean deconstruction. The adult-oriented performance, in Spanish with English subtitles, features mannequins, dolls, and hand puppets. Duncan YMCA Chernin Center for the Arts, 1001 W. Roosevelt, 8 PM. $20; call 773-722-5463.

Tedium

See listing for Thursday, June 14. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 8 PM. $10, "more if you've got it, free if you're broke"; call 773-561-3039.

Galway's Shadow

See listing for Monday, June 18. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 9 PM (the show is preceded by a benefit reception at 6:30 PM; tickets for this are $125). Free; call 773-388-9031.

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