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Single File: A Solo Performance Festival

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This second annual showcase of one-person performances features more than 40 pieces, ranging from stand-up comedy acts to theatrical monologues and one-person plays. The festival runs March 13-22. Shows take place at the Athenaeum Theatre, third-floor studio, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500; Playground Theater, 3341 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3793; WNEP Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-755-1693; and the Elevated at Cherry Red, 2833 N. Sheffield, 773-477-3661. Ticket prices for individual programs are $12; "all access" passes cost $75. In addition to the performances, interdisciplinary artist Rachel Rosenthal will lead a workshop on the festival's closing weekend. For more information and reservations, or to register for the Rosenthal workshop, call 312-388-1805; information is also available on-line at www.singlefilechicago.com. Tickets for shows at the Athenaeum Theatre can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 312-902-1500 or logging onto www.ticketmaster.com, and tickets for shows at WNEP Theater are available on-line at www.ticketweb.com.

Following is the schedule through March 20; a complete schedule is available on-line at www.chicagoreader.com.

THURSDAY, MARCH 13

Judy in Disguise, What Plays That Dream Are This?, Trust Funnin', Amanda, The Kara Buller Show, and Results Not Typical

Angela Farruggia plays a famous writer facilitating a self-help seminar for young authors with low self-esteem in her interactive one-woman show Judy in Disguise. "The concept is overflowing with possibilities. . . . The script, however, feels awkwardly adolescent in its development," Reader critic Kim Wilson said during an earlier run. Andrew Ritter tackles Jungian dream theory in What Plays That Dream Are This?; Trust Funnin' is Steve Scholz's satirical look at trust; a sociopathic Boston fan finds a new "friend" in Mike Burns's Amanda; The Kara Buller Show stars Kara Buller; and Kara Lashmet tells of losing 200 pounds in Results Not Typical. Athenaeum Theatre, 8 PM.

FRIDAY, MARCH 14

One Man Seen, The Flophouse Diaries, and 14 Faces

Andy Eninger's One Man Seen is an improvised solo one-act using Eninger's own form, the Sybil. "What's great about Eninger is that he trusts his gut: after getting a suggestion from the audience and setting the scene, he treats each minute as precious and dives right in. He also has great stage presence. . . . And the way Eninger delivers the dialogue--shuffling around the stage and plunging in and out of character--is one of those things you tolerate in a performer who inspires absolute allegiance. . . . The form is far from seamless, but Eninger is capable enough that he succeeds through sheer force of will," said Reader critic Nick Green when he reviewed an earlier show. Terry Pelayo deals with "hustlers, pimps, and thieves" in The Flophouse Diaries; Ted Bettridge pursues happiness in a difficult world in 14 Faces. Athenaeum Theatre, 8 PM.

C'mon and Tales From Waterloo

C'mon features solo performer Michael Lehrer. "With his white short-sleeved dress shirt, black pants, black midwidth tie, portly physique, and wide-eyed stupefaction, . . . Lehrer could easily pass as the colorless mail-room guy who goes postal one day. And after hearing what he has to say, we might understand. Through seven characters--among others, a gay rapper, a movie star wannabe, a convict resigned to orienting kids to prison, and a Successories spokesman--Lehrer voices amazement at some of life's cruel jokes. [His] alternation between bewildered first-person rants and conversations with imaginary partners keeps this one-hour revue clipping along and provides plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, [but Lehrer] could better distinguish his characters, who all seem to speak from the same point of view," Reader critic Kim Wilson said of the show's run last year. Katie Nahansen performs sketch comedy in Tales From Waterloo. Playground Theater, 10:30 PM.

SATURDAY, MARCH 15

Southside, Little Revolutions, and Sinbad and the Eye of the Dinosaur

Dee Bolos presents her one-woman show about the old neighborhood in Southside. Her perspective is distinctly female: clearly influenced by (and sometimes strikingly reminiscent of ) Lily Tomlin, she focuses on the lives of schoolgirls and soccer moms in a series of sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant sketches. Her characters are misfits--ill at ease in their insular world, they're also a little too burdened with Catholic guilt to completely defy their upbringing. So they compromise--and the resulting inappropriateness and incongruity form the basis of Bolos's comedy. Bolos is an engaging comic, seemingly laid-back though her timing is sharp, and her often raunchy jokes are balanced by an appealing sweetness. Little Revolutions is Leah Jones's examination of a woman's life in transition; Will Hare's Sinbad and the Eye of the Dinosaur concerns itself with "rebels, purple dinosaurs, and Sheryl Crow." Athenaeum Theatre, 7 PM.

The Happiness of Schizophrenia, Our Lady of the Fatasses, and Becoming Someone Else

Writer-performer Anthony Wills Jr. explores sexual identity and mental illness in The Happiness of Schizophrenia. "[Wills] seems to want to portray various types of mental illness while exploring his own fear of slipping into madness. Despite a commanding presence, [he] overacts to such an extreme that his portraits of schizophrenics become stereotypical and condescending. Rather than inviting the audience into his own experience, he puts simulated mania and paranoia on sordid display at a nearly unmodulated high emotional pitch," said Reader critic Justin Hayford when he reviewed the show last year. Our Lady of the Fatasses is Janie Martinez's examination of body image; Joseph Ravens interweaves "superheroes and demigods" in Becoming Someone Else. Athenaeum Theatre, 9 PM.

My Foot Left

Kenan Derson lost a leg to cancer when he was 15 and lived to tell about it in this one-man show. "My Foot Left certainly has some clever moments, especially when Derson explores the idea of himself as action figure--TV's bionic man with cooler accessories. But the piece seems to be targeted toward a school audience. Most of it is informational, as Derson shows us some of the different prostheses he's used, explains how amputation is done, and describes how he gets around in the morning before his leg is strapped on. There are too many voice-overs interrupting the monologue, and Derson usually shies away from an in-depth exploration of his feelings about living without a leg. He also doesn't give us much other information about himself, which ironically reduces him at times to the very thing that's missing--his left foot. However, some of the funny, poignant stuff here--like the anecdote about Derson and a friend with cancer hoodwinking a fast-food manager--could be further developed," said Reader critic Jennifer Vanasco when she reviewed the show last summer. WNEP Theater, 10:30 PM.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19

Stand-up

New Zealander Andy Clay presents a program of stand-up comedy. The Elevated at Cherry Red, 8:30 PM.

THURSDAY, MARCH 20

Something Suite, Stand-up, and Lilia!

"Something Suite, written and performed by Dina Facklis, . . . is exceptional. Facklis takes pleasure in the incongruities of human nature, especially those brought out by extreme situations: a housewife prepares dinner while responding to accusations that she tried to commit suicide; a sweet-voiced recording artist lays down tracks for a song about bestiality; a doctor explains that she didn't tell her pregnant patient about possibly fatal complications because she wanted to ramp up the drama of the birth. Facklis's characters are tears-in-the-eyes funny not because of what they say but because of who they are under pressure," said Reader critic Jennifer Vanasco when she reviewed the show last year. Libby Skala tells the story of her grandmother, actress and architect Lilia Skala, in Lilia!; see listing for Wednesday, March 19, for information on Stand-up. Athenaeum Theatre, 8 PM.

Sir, Mahboyfren', and Are You a Boy or a Girl?

"Too blasphemous for the faithful, too kinky for the vanilla, too vanilla for the thrill-seeking, Scott Lee Heckman's Sir is an underachieving how-to workshop for those uninitiated in the ways of a gay leather bottom pain pig. A flip chart maps out the narrative vignettes that constitute this one-man hour-long show, an explanation of Heckman's own 'spiritual journey' from born-again Christian to sibilant leather man. . . . But this potentially amusing story . . . is surprisingly dull and insightless even as it aims to shock," said Reader critic Erik Piepenburg when he reviewed this show two years ago. Joanna Buese's Mahboyfren' examines the human need for love; Jaime Black explores transgendered identity in Are You a Boy or a Girl? WNEP Theater, 8 PM.

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