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The Rhinoceros Theatre Festival

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Inspired by surrealist painter Salvador Dali's use of the term "rhinocerontic"--it means real big--this sprawl of avant-garde theater and performance in Chicago is coordinated this year (its fourth) by Michael Martin, Scott Turner, and Beau O'Reilly, who have endeavored to maintain the event's broad scope and cutting-edge sensibility. Rhino Fest runs through August 28 at the Curious Theatre Branch (1900 W. North), the Prop Theatre (the Garage, 1843 W. North), and Remains Theatre (1800 N. Clybourn); the official Rhino horn is 883-8801. Shows are priced at $7 per ticket, $25 for four tickets, $36 for six tickets, or $50 for ten tickets. Complementing Rhino Fest is the Bucktown Arts Fest, which offers free theatrical performances August 28 and 29 at the Holstein Park field house, 2200 N. Oakley; call 489-4662 for details on the free shows. The schedule for August 26 through 29 follows.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 26

Even the Dwarf Started Small

The Math new-music ensemble, whose instrumentation includes a propane tank, performs "a concert with a cameo by puppets." The title acknowledges the influences of filmmaker Werner (Even Dwarfs Started Small) Herzog and novelist Par (The Dwarf) Lagerkvist. Prop Theatre, 8 PM.

The John & David Show

Performer-poets John Starrs and David Hernandez team up for a program of word pictures. Curious Theatre Branch, 8 PM.

Everyone's Afraid of the Dark

The Playwrights' Center presents Min McCullough's play about an insecure woman who attempts to escape from her abusive lover and nasty boss. Prop Theatre, 10 PM.

Awake and Stupid

Stuart Allen, whose work directly reflects his experiences as a gay, HIV-positive recovering crack addict, wrote this program of performance pieces featuring Jenny Barron. Curious Theatre Branch, 10 PM.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 27

Everyone's Afraid of the Dark

See listing for Thursday, August 26. Prop Theatre, 8 PM.

Dark City: The Transformation of the Cheerleader

The Chicago Cabaret Ensemble performs an improvisationally developed dance/theater piece (with text and music by Warren Leming and James Tomasello) examining boosterism in the arenas of sports and performance. Curious Theatre Branch, 8 PM.

Even the Dwarf Started Small

See listing for Thursday, August 26. Prop Theatre, 10 PM.

Ceremonies for a Broken Heart and Yugoslavia: A Scholarly Explanation and "Wacky" Improv Show (Ooh, Baby!)

Theater Oobleck presents two performance pieces, by Ted deMoniak and Danny Thompson respectively. Word is deMoniak has assembled most of the original Oobleck ensemble for the occasion. Curious Theatre Branch, 10 PM.

The Willies

Jenny Magnus's "performance collage" addresses "dreams, guilt, and unrelenting workhorseplay." Remains Theatre, 10 PM.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 28

Even the Dwarf Started Small

See listing for Thursday, August 26. Holstein Park, 1 PM (free show as part of Bucktown Arts Fest).

The Willies

See listing for Friday, August 27. Holstein Park, 3:30 PM (free show).

Awake and Stupid

See listing for Thursday, August 26. Prop Theatre, 8 PM.

Extravaganza in Fat Pads

New Crime Productions, which specializes in a high-volume contemporary variation on classic commedia dell'arte clowning (complete with masks, strange makeup, and intensely physical action), presents a new work directed by Polly Noonan. Curious Theatre Branch, 8 PM.

It Comes in Waves: LSD at 50

Acid test: Performance artist Andy Soma conceived this historical and personal tribute to the noted hallucinogen. Though it was canceled last week due to technical difficulties, the multimedia production is expected to play this week. Prop Theatre, 10 PM.

The Spew Police . . . The Suffergush Returns

Beau O'Reilly's monologue concerns a man who takes a vodka-fueled voyage from Rogers Park to Wicker Park in one long day. Curious Theatre Branch, 10 PM.

Annajenska

Drag queen performance artist Joan Jett Blakk, making her farewell appearance in Chicago, plays the lead role in George Bernard Shaw's comedy about a royal revolutionary. Remains Theatre, 11:30 PM.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 29

Halfway Content

The Eclipse Theater Company's program of one-acts includes All Lines Down, by Robert Mohler; A Long Walk to Forever, by Jeff Lazarus; and Out the Window, by Neal Bell. Holstein Park, 1 PM (free show as part of Bucktown Arts Fest).

Dark City: The Transformation of the Cheerleader

See listing for Friday, August 27. Holstein Park, 3:30 PM (free show).

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