Sketchbook Festival | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Sketchbook Festival

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Collaboraction's seventh annual showcase of short plays features two programs of eight new works each, most by emerging writers. The performers move around and through the audience, and during set changes viewers are invited to roam the sprawling space to socialize, change seats, view art, and buy drinks and merchandise at concession stands. When I attended program A, the well-crafted but usually forgettable playlets--most about people's responses to the deaths of friends and loved ones--were aided by generally good acting and directing and by Sam Porretta's slick environmental design. But the nightclub atmosphere and the long breaks between vignettes, filled with live music, undercut the scripts' emotional impact and prevented the evening from building a satisfying dramatic arc. --Albert Williams a Through 7/1: Thu-Fri 8 PM, Sat 5:30 and 8 PM, Sun 8 PM. Programs alternate. Scheduled for 6/8-614: Program A plays Fri, 8 PM Sat, and Thu. Program B plays 5:30 PM Sat and Sun. See chicagoreader.com for complete repertory schedule. Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, 1624 N. Halsted, 312-335-1650. $30 per program, $45 closing marathon Sun 7/1, $75 Fri 6/22 (includes postshow party), festival pass $50.

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