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The Rhinoceros Theater Festival

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This is the sixth annual incarnation of the Rhino Fest, a showcase of experimental theater and performance that started as a component of the Bucktown Arts Fest but has since taken on a life of its own. The event's name is inspired by surrealist painter Salvador Dali's use of the term "rhinocerontic" (it means real big); the three-week agenda includes work (including previews of forthcoming productions) by the Neo-Futurists, the Curious Theatre Branch, Theater Oobleck, Paula Killen, Doorika, Lisa Buscani, Frank Melcori, Warren Leming, John Starrs, and other local fringe familiars.

The Rhino roams from Wicker Park to Lakeview and Andersonville this year. Running August 18 through September 2, the event features performances at the Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland; the Splinter Group Studio, 1937 W. Division; and the Near Northwest Arts Council's Flat Iron Gallery, 1579 N. Milwaukee. Tickets are $7 per program or $10 for any two programs. To make reservations call the RSVP line at 665-4435; for more information call the festival office at 327-6666.

The Reader lists festival offerings on a week-by-week basis; following is the schedule for August 18 through 24.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18

Summer Shorts: "Forced Perspective"

The Neo-Futurists bring together Gertrude Stein's We Are Three Sisters Who Are Not Three Sisters, which Reader critic Justin Hayford calls "a ridiculously overdone murder mystery set in a mind-numbingly bourgeois drawing room where homicide seems the only thing to do"; Let's Eat Hair, a neo-dadaist work by the German expressionist Carl Laszlo in which a man and woman fantasize about eating, "vividly realized in David Kodeski's stark staging," Hayford says; This Is a Play, by Canada's Daniel MacIvor, which Hayford calls a "spoof of bad kitchen-sink drama" that, despite "superlative performances, . . . gives us very little to think about"; Harold Pinter's Monologue, an enigmatic piece in which a man seems to be addressing an absent lover, a romantic rival, or both, in which "David Cromer's flawless performance" is "impeccably directed by Brian Shaw," Hayford says; and Preparations, a piece adapted by Diana Slickman from a short story by Kenneth Barnard that features what Hayford calls an "electrifying performance" by Lusia Strus. Neo-Futurarium, 8 PM.

Big-Toothed, High-Tech Megatron vs. the Sock Puppet of Procrastination

Theater Oobleck teams up with Danny & His Things for this new piece. Splinter Group Studio, 8 PM.

The Third Degrees of J.O. Breeze

Beau O'Reilly's new play inquires into "the ethics and future of Horace and Doris." Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

Feerie for Another Time

The Rigadoon Theater Cartel's show is inspired by French author Louis-Ferdinand Celine. Splinter Group Studio, 10:30 PM.

Straight to the Top

Paula Killen performs excerpts from her new monologue, featuring piano accompaniment by Chuck Larkin. Lunar Cabaret, 10:30 PM.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 19

Dear

Doorika performs a new work inspired by the comix of Chris Ware; this is a preview of a show that opens next week and heads to New York next month. Neo-Futurarium, 8 PM.

Johnny Red Was a Don't Bettor

Playwright Paul Peditto teams up with veterans of his former troupe, the fondly remembered Igloo theater company, for Studio 108's premiere of his new piece about six men and one woman waiting for a sure thing at a craps table. Splinter Group Studio, 8 PM.

The Sad Ballad of Johnny Reb & His Beautiful Wife Cecile

Playwright-actor Scott Turner performs his "epic journey of storytelling and song" about a guy who leaves his job at a uranium mine to rescue the woman he loves from a coven of skinhead witches in LA.

Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

Big-Toothed, High-Tech Megatron vs. the Sock Puppet of Procrastination

See listing for Friday. Splinter Group Studio, 10:30 PM.

At That Point: Humans at Their Best and Worst

See Critic's Choice. Lunar Cabaret, 10:30 PM.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 20

Johnny Red Was a Don't Bettor

See listing for Saturday. Splinter Group Studio, 8 PM.

Correspondence Boxing

This two-man show by Bryn Magnus and Russel Brown O'Brien is described as "a personal impersonal performance document of a correspondence between friends." Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

MONDAY, AUGUST 21

Illustrious Bloodspill

and Correspondence Boxing

The first half of this double bill is Bryn Magnus's new "pantomime of action movie scenes"; it features musical accompaniment by Family Problem. See listing for Sunday for a description of Correspondence Boxing. Neo-Futurarium, 8 PM.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 24

Moans & Other Pheromones

Bryn Magnus's new "wordy-gurdy" is performed by Colm O'Reilly, Jenny Magnus, Mark Comiskey, Peter Reineman, Amy Warren, and Julieanne Ehre. Neo-Futurarium, 8 PM.

Two More Not So Solo Performances

Meredith Neuman offers two pieces, Neogeocentrism and Absolutely Nothing To Do With Pushkin. Splinter Group Studio, 8 PM.

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