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Rhinoceros Theater Festival

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The Curious Theatre Branch's 15th annual showcase of experimental theater, performance, and music from Chicago's fringe runs through 11/20 at the Curious Theatre Branch, 7001 N. Glenwood. Admission is $12 or "pay what you can"; for information and reser-vations, call 773-274-6660.

Following is the schedule through 11/15; a complete schedule is available online at www.chicagoreader.com.

FRIDAY 12

Cant

It's not easy to negotiate the subject of motherhood--to chart a course between the Scylla of sentimentality and the Charybdis of gleeful attack. Veteran solo artist Jenny Magnus makes the attempt in Cant, a 45-minute monologue (with songs). She deals with the subject by portraying various characters: good mothers, bad mothers, a self-absorbed young father, the hard-bitten mother of a mother, and a lactation consultant/nurse's assistant. Magnus embodies her characters brilliantly, and her newness as a mother gives this piece its freshness, its emotion, its honesty, and--for better or worse--its indirection. (LM) 7 PM

A Dangerous Ornithology

James Owens's treatise on the threat to personal freedoms posed by an autocratic government can be frustrating. The playwright's intent seems to be to push us headfirst into a hyperparanoid reality and force us to grapple with a narrative that needs too much unpacking to be savored. The resourceful ensemble renders a few moments indelible: an existential discussion of life's oppositions that takes place in the engine room of a locomotive becomes a profoundly strange vaudeville routine involving teacups. But the show's bracketing devices--a pair of academics, a study of the flight patterns of birds, a revenge plot--remain mysterious while the elliptical middle is no different from the train ride it features: its origin and destination are one and the same. (NG) 9 PM

SATURDAY 13

Cope!

Julie Caffey, Barrie Cole, and the Oxford Group perform new material. 7 PM

Full Moon Vaudeville

Vernon Tonges, Jeff Dorchen, Teresa Weed's Jabberwocky, Fate Saved Us, and the Pedestrians present an evening of new music. 9 PM

SUNDAY 14

Cope!

See listing for Sat 11/13. 7 PM

MONDAY 15

Buzz Words: What They Are, How to Use Them, and Why Not To

This panel discussion addresses the phrases stressed-out grant writers employ to squeeze money from a shrinking donor pool. The question at hand: "How can we communicate with funders and the press and the public without resorting to pandering?" 7 PM

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