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The 1995 Chicago Fringe Festival

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Making its debut so soon after the demise of the International Theatre Festival of Chicago, this brand-new project seems to challenge the notion that the Windy City isn't hospitable to events of this kind. Producers John T. Mills and James Ellis hope to succeed where others have failed by offering a more sharply defined image implied by the word "fringe," more concentrated programming, a special outreach to family audiences with a weekend "Kids' Fringe" (marked KF in daily listings below), low prices, and the inclusion of Chicago artists alongside visitors from around the English-speaking world.

The 1995 Chicago Fringe Festival runs through June 26 at the Organic Theater Company, 3319 N. Clark; the phone number for ticket orders is 327-5588 (the Organic box office) or 902-1500 (Ticketmaster). The listings below specify which of the Organic's three theaters each show is in: the South Hall or Lab Theater, both located in the second-floor Organic Greenhouse, or the main stage, whose entrance is on Buckingham just east of Clark. Tickets range from $5 to $12 depending on the show; a $5 festival button gets you a $2 discount on all tickets as well as fest-approved merchandise. Besides the shows listed below, a "Fringe Central" street festival will take place on Buckingham east of Clark on Saturday, June 24, from noon to 10 PM. The free fair will feature local entertainers as well as merchants hawking refreshments and merchandise.

The Reader carries festival listings on a week-by-week basis; here's the schedule for June 22 through 26.

THURSDAY, JUNE 22

The Hundredth Monkey

Neovaudevillian Danny Lord, a member of New York's Big Apple Circus, is the force behind the Polo Brothers, whose show promises "hit-and-run comedy." He's joined by stilt walker Priscilla Blight. Main stage, 6 PM. $12. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

A Spoonful of Sugar

Nova Scotia playwright Fara E. Spence's drama about "the darker side of psychiatry" is limited to viewers aged 17 and older. Lab Theater, 6 PM. $9.

Will and Testament

Chicago actor Fredric Stone draws on plays and sonnets of Shakespeare for this one-man show about a dead performer who goes to theater heaven and gets to audition for the bard himself. South Hall, 6 PM. $9. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

Fractured Fairy Tales and Fables

Where's Edward Everett Horton when you need him? The Just Desserts Fairy Tale Players from Boston perform their original comic variations on the time-tested stories. South Hall, 7:30 PM. $10.

Sykes and Nancy

See Critic's Choice. Lab Theater, 8 PM. $12.

66 Intimacies

A couple's personal conflict is set against the sweeping social upheaval of mid-1960s America in this play by Gregory Lyle-Newton, presented by Seattle's Blackvaliant Productions. South Hall, 9 PM. $10. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

Joyride

Laura McGhee stars in her own surrealistic comedy about a young woman "in search of validation in modern-day society." The play is presented by McManic Productions from Toronto. Lab Theater, 9:30 PM. $10. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

Beyond Cute and Ugly: The Autobiography of R. Chumleigh

Neovaudevillian Reverend Chumleigh, based on Camano Island, Washington, performs a program of off-kilter comedy. Main stage, 10:30 PM. $12.

Faulty Wiring

This comedy team cites Chicago's ImprovOlympic as its training ground. South Hall, 10:30 PM. $10.

Sheila's Giant Wall of Plot Twists

The Chicago comedy group Sheila invites the audience to determine the direction of its improvised plays by choosing from among 30 plot twists hanging on the wall. Reader critic Jack Helbig praises "the intelligent, confident way [the] performers play with their long-form improvisations, taking the sort of risks that would trip up less experienced troupes." Lab Theater, 11 PM. $7.

FRIDAY, JUNE 23

Beyond Cute and Ugly: The Autobiography of R. Chumleigh

See listing for Thursday, June 22. Main stage, 6 PM. $12.

First Prize and Home Fries

Chicagoans Wendye Clarendon and R. John Roberts wrote this comedy about a longtime waitress who wins the lottery. Lab Theater, 6 PM. $10.

Will and Testament

See listing for Thursday, June 22. South Hall, 6 PM. $9.

Close to the Bone

Sensible Footwear, an all-woman trio of British expatriates now based in Toronto, "gleefully wade into waters most men (and carefully coiffed, soft-voiced stand-up babes like Rita Rudner) fear to tread. . . . [And] somehow Sensible Footwear's English accents make even the crudest jokes seem elegant. Even more appealing is the clever way they deliver their material like a chorus, sometimes splitting up jokes among the three of them, other times competing for the most wicked punch line," says Reader critic Jack Helbig of this comedy show. Lab Theater, 7:30 PM. $12.

Fakes, Frauds, and TV Magic

Chicagoans William Pack and Bill Weimer--aka Two Guys Named Bill--perform comedy and magic. South Hall, 7:30 PM. $9.

Illustrated Men

This Toronto-based comedy troupe has been playing clubs, theaters, and festivals around North America for more than eight years. Lab Theater, 9 PM. $12.

Short Hair/Real Job

Performance artist Jeff Bradley arrives from Windsor, Ontario, with a program of storytelling, clowning, object manipulation, and "non-offensive stand-up comedy and positive non-humiliating audience participation." South Hall, 9 PM. $12. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

Sheila's Giant Wall of Plot Twists

See listing for Thursday, June 22. Lab Theater, 10:30 PM. $7.

Gloria Steinem Said "Some of Us Become the Men We Wanted to Marry" . . . Wendy Hopkins Is Tall Dark and Handsome

From Toronto comes this musical comedy by Wild Cycle Productions about the search for true love. South Hall, 10:30 PM. $8.

First Prize and Home Fries

See listing for 6 PM today. Lab Theater, midnight. $10.

The Heart's Desire: Tales of Laughter, Loss & Love

Evanston storyteller Nancy Donoval's program features traditional and original stories. South Hall, midnight. $9.

SATURDAY, JUNE 24

In Uffish Thought

Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky" is the inspiration for this one-act by Michael Mark Chemers, a grad student at Indiana University. Presented in its world premiere by Jordan River Productions (based in Ellettsville, Indiana) and Chicago's Act Now Productions, the comedy uses Carroll's parody of Anglo-Saxon epics to express a boy's oedipal anxieties about coming of age. Main stage, 11 AM. $8. (KF) (Reviewed this week in Section One.)

In Concert

Dave Herzog's Marionettes perform a musical variety show for kids. Lab Theater, noon. $8. (KF)

The History and the Adventures of Tom Thumb

The City Stage Company of Boston offers its participatory version of the famous folktale. South Hall, noon. $6. (KF)

Rumpelstiltskin

The folktale is performed by the Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts from Plano, Texas--the oldest resident puppet troupe in the southwest. Main stage, 1:30 PM. $9. (KF)

Fakes, Frauds, and TV Magic

See listing for Friday, June 23. Lab Theater, 1:30 PM. $9. (KF)

Fractured Fairy Tales and Fables

See listing for Thursday, June 22. South Hall, 1:30 PM. $10. (KF)

Beyond Cute and Ugly: The Autobiography of R. Chumleigh

See listing for Friday, June 23. Main stage, 3 PM. $12. (KF)

A Spoonful of Sugar

See listing for Thursday, June 22. Lab Theater, 3 PM. $9.

The History and the Adventures of Tom Thumb

See listing for noon today. South Hall, 3 PM. $6. (KF)

Peter Rabbit and Friends

Beatrix Potter's tales of a funny bunny are performed by the Emanon Theater Company of Evanston. South Hall, 4:30 PM. $7. (KF)

Butterflies and Spiders

"Emergence Dance Theatre is an anomaly in an anomalous discipline--a postmodern company that . . . straddles the boundaries of performance art, time art, and dance yet does not have a liberal agenda--here art for art's sake rules. . . . Their work is unabashedly beautiful too, sometimes sentimental and sweet but never cloying. Emergence integrates film and slides with the choreography, which gives its work a monumental, almost epic look at times, but the dancing . . . gives the pieces immediacy, vulnerability, and humanity. . . . These compositions are like haiku: small, well structured, and gentle," says Reader critic Carmela Rago. Main stage, 5 PM. $10. (KF)

Illustrated Men

See listing for Friday, June 23. Lab Theater, 6 PM. $12.

Kaspar in Babylon

Also known as Punch, Kaspar is a traditional hero of European puppetry; he's transported to contemporary America in this new puppet piece by Chicagoans Kristen Rengren and Lisa Barcy. South Hall, 6 PM. $9.

Close to the Bone

See listing for Friday, June 23. Lab Theater, 7:30 PM. $12.

66 Intimacies

See listing for Thursday, June 22. South Hall, 7:30 PM. $10.

Sykes and Nancy

See Critic's Choice. Lab Theater, 9 PM. $12.

Short Hair/Real Job

See listing for Friday, June 23. South Hall, 9 PM. $12.

Sheila's Giant Wall of Plot Twists

See listing for Thursday, June 22. Lab Theater, 10:30 PM. $7.

Plenty of Time--Tea Time With Lady Ettie

Carol Black, based in Arlington, Texas, adopts the role of a fun-loving eccentric in this program of Renaissance storytelling. South Hall, 10:30 PM. $5.

Joyride

See listing for Thursday, June 22. Lab Theater, midnight. $10.

You're Not the Boss of Me

This Chicago improv troupe features alumni of the Second City training program. South Hall, midnight. $6.

SUNDAY, JUNE 25

In Uffish Thought

See listing for Saturday, June 24. Main stage, 11 AM. $8. (KF)

In Concert

See listing for Saturday, June 24. Lab Theater, noon. $8. (KF)

Peter Rabbit and Friends

See listing for Saturday, June 24. South Hall, noon. $7. (KF)

Rumpelstiltskin

See listing for Saturday, June 24. Main stage, 1:30 PM. $9. (KF)

Fakes, Frauds, and TV Magic

See listing for Friday, June 23. Lab Theater, 1:30 PM. $9. (KF)

The History and the Adventures of Tom Thumb

See listing for Saturday, June 24. South Hall, 1:30 PM. $6. (KF)

In Uffish Thought

See listing for Saturday, June 24. Main stage, 3 PM. $8. (KF)

Sykes and Nancy

See Critic's Choice. Lab Theater, 3 PM. $12. (KF)

Brave Hearts and Faithful Friends

Evanston storyteller Nancy Donoval performs tales from around the world. South Hall, 3 PM. $6. (KF)

Close to the Bone

See listing for Friday, June 23. Lab Theater, 4:30 PM. $12. (KF)

Will and Testament

See listing for Thursday, June 22. South Hall, 4:30 PM. $9. (KF)

Beyond Cute and Ugly: The Autobiography of R. Chumleigh

See listing for Friday, June 23. Main stage, 5 PM. $12. (KF)

First Prize and Home Fries

See listing for Friday, June 23. Lab Theater, 6 PM. $10.

Faulty Wiring

See listing for Thursday, June 22. South Hall, 6 PM. $10.

Butterflies and Spiders

See listing for Saturday, June 24. Main stage, 7 PM. $10.

Joyride

See listing for Thursday, June 22. Lab Theater, 7:30 PM. $10.

Gloria Steinem Said "Some of Us Become the Men We Wanted to Marry" . . . Wendy Hopkins Is Tall Dark and Handsome

See listing for Friday, June 23. South Hall, 7:30 PM. $8.

Beyond Cute and Ugly: The Autobiography of R. Chumleigh

See listing for Friday, June 23. Main stage, 8:30 PM. $12.

A Spoonful of Sugar

See listing for Thursday, June 22. Lab Theater, 9 PM. $9.

66 Intimacies

See listing for Thursday, June 22. South Hall, 9 PM. $10.

The Hundredth Monkey

See listing for Thursday, June 22. Main stage, 10 PM. $12.

Kaspar in Babylon

See listing for Saturday, June 24. South Hall, 10:30 PM. $9.

MONDAY, JUNE 26

Butterflies and Spiders

See listing for Saturday, June 24. Main stage, 7:30 PM. $10.

Sykes and Nancy

See Critic's Choice. South Hall, 8 PM. $12.

The Hundredth Monkey

See listing for Thursday, June 22. Main stage, 9 PM. $12.

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