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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 through March 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; and WNEP Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-755-1693. Ticket prices for individual programs are $12; "all access" passes cost $75. In addition to the performances, interdisciplinary artist Rachel Rosenthal will lead a performance 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 on to www.ticketmaster.com, and tickets for shows at WNEP Theater are available on-line at www.ticketweb.com.

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. Stand-up features New Zealander Andy Clay in a program of stand-up comedy. And Lilia! is Libby Skala's account of her grandmother Lilia Skala, the architect and actor best known for her performance in the movie Lilies of the Field. 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.

FRIDAY, MARCH 21

The View From Skyland Drive, Teasing Out of the Abyss, and Lilia!

Tad Coughenour explores southern hospitality and redneck rage in The View From Skyland Drive. Sandra Battaglini enters the world of "Italian-Canadian family mythologies" in Teasing out of the Abyss; see listing for Thursday, March 20, for information on Lilia! Athenaeum Theatre, 8 PM.

M. Dick and Teaching Shakespeare

Dan Sola contrasts Richard Nixon and Captain Ahab in M. Dick; Keir Cutler's Teaching Shakespeare is an exercise in how not to study the Bard. WNEP Theater, 8 PM.

Fun Factory, Tower of Babble, and Lylice

Jason Anfinsen's Fun Factory features character sketches, scenes, and songs that all take place in an abandoned building. Jennifer Ostrega's Tower of Babble is a warning to corporate America. And Jennifer Nails returns to the sixth grade with her character Lylice. Playground Theater, 10:30 PM.

SATURDAY, MARCH 22

Coming of Age in Samoa, Emotional Baggage Check, and Moses

"In Coming of Age in Samoa, Ali Davis pays tribute to her 'personal hero' Margaret Mead, interspersing snippets of biography with intelligently funny, forceful monologues on religion, rape, sex, and lesbianism. Davis's characters are distinct and richly drawn, their differences conveyed through expert physical and vocal shifts. The accounts of Mead's life and career, however, only tenuously link the sketches and make Davis appear unfocused and anxious," said Reader critic Jenn Goddu when she reviewed the show last year. Julia Svoboda experiences self-discovery aboard a jetliner winging toward LA in Emotional Baggage Check; Catherine Mueller's Moses is described by the festival as "a play about a girl who believes her cat was sent to her by God." Athenaeum Theatre, 7 PM.

Camelback and Zero to Life

Topping Haggerty performs solo improvisation in Camelback; Adrianne Frost takes a single audience-suggested character from birth to death in Zero to Life. WNEP Theater, 7 PM.

Paper Dreams and Plastic Promises and Growing Up Butch

Cliff Chamberlain reenters the world of childhood in Paper Dreams and Plastic Promises; Butch Jerinic talks about her family in Growing Up Butch. Athenaeum Theatre, 9 PM.

One Night at TF Green, Chris's Slumber Party, and The Photosynthesis of God and Man

One Night at TF Green finds David Mogolov stuck at an airport after 9/11; Chris Churchill hosts Chris's Slumber Party; Niki Lindgren takes "an irreverent look at movement and modern music" in The Photosynthesis of God and Man. WNEP Theater, 9 PM.

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