This annual showcase of experimental theater, performance, and music from Chicago's fringe began as part of the Bucktown Arts Fest; now it's produced by the Curious Theatre Branch. Taking its name from surrealist painter Salvador Dali's use of the term "rhinocerontic" (it means real big), the Rhino Fest, now in its 11th year, features shows by such local notables as Theater for the Age of Gold, the Billy Goat Experiment, Blair Thomas, Antonio Sacre (now based in LA, but returning for the festival), John Musial, Michael K. Meyers, and Theater Oobleck in addition to the Curious folks.
The Rhinoceros Theater Festival runs through October 14 at the Lunar Cabaret, 2827 N. Lincoln. Admission to all shows is $10 or "pay what you can"; for information and reservations, call 773-327-6666.
Following is the schedule for September 28 through October 5, based on information available Monday.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
Carving Wood and Midwest Parking
The first play on this double bill is a comedy by Nicole Kupper about a woman obsessed with Ping-Pong and her relationship with her daughter and the daughter's fiance; the second, presented by Cougar Cougar Productions, is a comedy by writer-director Mike Hansel. 8 PM.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
Looking at Chagall: Scenes From My Fictitious Life
Spoken-word artist Michael K. Meyers presents "verbal snapshots" to reinvent himself in this solo show. 8 PM.
Eleven Dollar Prophet
See Critic's Choice.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 30
Looking at Chagall: Scenes From My Fictitious Life
See listing for 8 PM Friday, September 29. 8 PM.
Nelson Algren: For Keeps and a Single Day
Director-designer-filmmaker John Musial's multimedia exploration of the life and work of the famed Chicago novelist features performer Thom Cox and live jazz by Dave Pavkovic and Griffin Rodriguez. This performance is a preview of Lookingglass Theatre Company's forthcoming production. 10 PM.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1
David Schein, Dana Block, Tanya White, and Tom Janssen, appearing under the collective name Groupo Morph, seek to synthesize dramatic text, poetry, and vocal music in this performance. 3 PM.
Chameleon With a Stigmata
Former stand-up comic Sue Cargill wrote this dark comedy about a self-effacing woman whose new apartment is inhabited by a human-sized bright red chameleon whose inability to change his colors contrasts with the woman's tendency to blend in with her surroundings. Anna Bahow directs. "For brilliant innovation [this is] the piece to see. [It's] a sharply funny, intelligent, and oddly sweet examination of the difference between accepting suffering and courting it and of the role of friendship in defining that boundary. . . . No shorthand can do Chameleon justice. Its originality deserves the widest possible audience," says Reader critic Kelly Kleiman. 7 PM.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 2
Until One Day I Run Out of Teeth and The Secret Thoughts of Clowns
The American Monster Theater presents two plays by Carey Friedman; the ensemble includes Lance Baker, Michael Stumm, and Kathleen Powers. "In Until One Day I Run Out of Teeth . . . Baker portrays David, an everyman in a bathtub who writes letters to the Congressman after he meets the man's assistant, Mary, one day on the bus--an encounter that quickly turns into David's spiritual rape at the hands of this femme fatale and her terminally ill boss. All this in 20 minutes. Baker illuminates the stage in this faint but potent burp of a work. . . . By contrast, the actors' talents are wasted in The Secret Thoughts of Clowns, a mindlessly enthusiastic script about a man and a woman at odds in a hotel room," says Reader critic Erik Piepenburg.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 3
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ian Belknap, in the role of Mephistopheles, hosts a program of monologues about the seven deadly sins. The performance is part of a weekly series in which each show features a different lineup of sins, portrayed by a rotating ensemble that includes Jenny Magnus, Bryn Magnus, Lusia Strus, Susan Messing, Matt Kaye, Rose Abdoo, and others. 8 PM.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 4
Karine Koret's one-woman show is based on her grandmother's account of life as a teenager in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. It's presented by the Stillpoint Theater Collective. "Koret intersperses songs and humorous confessions with tales of her grandmother's fear, fatigue, and fight to hold on--and [she] can be captivating retelling and reliving this engaging story. Unfortunately she can also shortchange it by not fully inhabiting the moment," says Reader critic Jenn Goddu. 8 PM.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5
Theater for the Age of Gold presents Jeff Dorchen and Jeff Kowalkowski's musical version of Katherine Dunn's book about a family of circus freaks. "[The] play all too faithfully presents a version of the world that's rank, pointless, and repulsive. [The] question remains whether investing so much talent and creativity in this source constitutes an innovation or a mistake. At the very least, fans of the book . . . will want to see Geek Love. You may argue about it, but you can't dismiss it," says Reader critic Kelly Kleiman. 8 PM.