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Rhinoceros Theater Festival

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This annual showcase of experimental theater, performance, and music from Chicago's fringe, coproduced by Curious Theatre Branch and Prop Thtr, runs through 11/12. This year's festival includes an emphasis on work by, or inspired by, Samuel Beckett. All performances are at the Prop Thtr, 3502-4 N. Elston, unless otherwise noted. Several performances will be at Roots, an offshoot of Curious Theatre Branch located in a private home; the address will be provided when reservations are made. Admission is $15 or "pay what you can," except where noted. For information and reservations, call 773-539-7838 or visit rhinofest.com. Following is the schedule through 10/19: a complete schedule is available online at chicagoreader.com.

Angels/Angles Caitlin Montanye Parrish's new musical (with a score by Elizabeth Breen) combines Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland with the little girl who inspired the tale and a contemporary Alice. Erica Weiss directs for Hypatia Theatre Company. a Through 10/25: Wed 7 PM.

Brewed Six weird sisters stir a mysterious potion and conjure forth old demons in Scott T. Barsotti's new play, performed by Roundelay Theatre Company under Barsotti's direction. Presented at Roots on a double bill with The End (see separate listing). a Through 10/20: Fri 7 PM.

Classic Shorts: Beckett/Albee Greasy Joan & Co. present a trio of one-acts: Footfalls and Come and Go by Beckett, both directed by Julieanne Ehre, and Counting the Ways by Edward Albee, directed by Libby Ford. a Through 10/15: Sun 7 PM.

The Climb Up Mount Chimborazo Nonsense Company from Madison, Wisconsin, presents Rick Burkhardt's fanciful meditation on South American liberator Simon Bolivar and his tutor Simon Robinson, inspired in part by the historical collage novels of Eduardo Galeano.

a Through 10/22: Sun 7 PM.

Danger Face: The Slow Burn Idris Goodwin offers the second part of his pulp serial--the first premiered last summer. Inspired by Beckett's Waiting for Godot, it follows two outlaw brothers into a fantastical art gallery. Joe Peracchio of New Mexico's Tricklock Theatre Company directs, and Michael Haeflinger provides live musical accompaniment. a Through 10/14: Sat 11 PM.

The, End?! Halfway House Theatre Society premieres Chris Bower's adaptation of "The End" by Samuel Beckett, "performed atop a painted neon-eyed horse." Presented at Roots on a double bill with The End (see separate listing). a Sun 10/15 and 10/22, 7 PM.

The End Beau O'Reilly's adaptation of the Beckett short story is performed by Matthew Wilson under O'Reilly's direction. Presented at Roots. a Through 10/27: Fri 7 PM, presented as a double bill with Brewed through 10/20 (see separate listing). On 10/15 and 10/22: presented as a double bill with The, End?! (see separate listing).

R Endgame Samuel Beckett's existential masterpiece, about a blind man stuck in a room with his servant, is an exquisitely static portrait of mankind's last gasp. Director Jeffrey Bivens steers the cast away from the script's overt humor, and Beau O'Reilly and Guy Massey focus on its dark subtext to create 90 minutes of engaging bleakness. (JHa) a Through 10/14: Sat 3 and 7 PM. Then 10/21-10/29: Sat-Sun 7 PM.

R Happy Days Cecilie O'Reilly and Dwight Eastman perform Beckett's last full-length play, about a middle-aged woman buried in the barren earth--to her waist in the first act, to her neck in the second. Dead set on keeping her spirits up, all she has to occupy herself is rummaging through her purse, putting up a parasol, and prattling to her nearly mute husband. Though the woman is typically portrayed as forcefully chipper and almost totemic, O'Reilly (who also directs) plays her as introspective, brooding, and at times overtly bored. This approach drains some of the urgency from the play, as does the extensive editing of the text, but it also scales the character and the humor down to human size, making it intimate and gentle. (JHa) a Through 10/15: Sun 3 PM.

In the Dark Writer/performer Israel Antonio's autobiographical solo play traces the effect of sudden blindness on his journey through adolescence. Scott Vehill directs. a Through 10/27: Fri 9:30 PM.

R Metaphor Land Obsessions rule the family depicted in Barrie Cole's intelligent, funny new play: the father is consumed by ethical dilemmas, the mother balances her compulsive interest in poetry with compulsive interests in juice boxes and jigsaw puzzles, and a grown son "escapes" by writing a logorrheic blog about his parents. Enter a woman who's a poet, an actress playing the poet, and "Barrie Cole," a disarmingly obnoxious deus ex machina who does actually save the family. Though the other characters berate "Cole" for the script's "meta-ing," their attacks invite us to laugh. (LM)

a Through 10/13: Fri 7 PM.

My TV Movie of the Week Three short films that "explore the strange side of pop culture," presented by We're So Screwed Productions. a 10/19-10/27: Thu 9 PM, Fri 11 PM.

Myth of Love Minnesota playwright David Kunz penned this black comedy about a suburban couple caught in the throes of a midlife crisis that escalates when the wife hires a hit man to kill the husband. a Through 10/28: Wed 7 PM, Sat 3 PM.

Porno Zombies A Halloween-themed play, written by Matt Casarino and directed by Emily Lotspeich. a Through 10/30: Mon 9:30 PM. Also Tue 10/31, 9:30 PM.

Room Jenny Magnus premieres an original song cycle that takes place in a series of rooms inhabited by "lonely people, tired people, contented people, disgusted people." a 10/14-10/28: Sat 9:30 PM.

R Tennessee Speaks in Tongues for You (or The 3fi-Character Play) New Orleans-based playwright R.J. Tsarov's fantasia on the work of Tennessee Williams--directed by filmmaker John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer)--offers a witty send-up of the tantrum-prone, alcohol- and drug-addled Williams of the late 70s and early 80s. Stealing a page from William S. Burroughs (another drug-using gay writer from Saint Louis), Tsarov wrings every paranoid interpretation he can out of the provocative premise that Williams is infected by a parasite with the power to control his thoughts, feelings, and speech--an alien presence that also serves as a metaphor for artistic creation. The two other characters in the piece are an abnormally close brother and sister (refugees from Williams's The Two-Character Play). This Gordian knot of a script makes for a rich postmodern evening of puzzles, and the actors perform with intensity and commitment. (JHe) a Through 10/28: Sat 9:30 PM.

What Where, The Jesus Fields, and Green Science Bloody Done Hate A trio of short plays, presented by Ooftish Theatre. In addition to Beckett's meditation on torture, the evening includes Matthew Test's exploration of "Jesus as an agricultural product" and Jayita Bhattacharya's play about murder and revenge. a Through 10/23: Mon 7 PM.

Year Brian Torrey Scott's new musical about "time, rest, forgetting and grief" features a score by Azita Youssefi and Sam Wagster. a Through 10/27: Fri 9:30 PM.

Zest for Gloom The solo performance collective BoyGirlBoyGirl--represented here by David Kodeski, Edward Thomas-Herrera, Susan McLaughlin Karp, Rachel Claff, and Diana Slickman--use Beckett's work as the inspiration for a collection of new monologues about "memory, swimming pools, stage directions, and the end of the world." a 10/20-10/27: Fri 7 PM.

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