Friday 30

If there emanates from downtown Chicago this weekend a rather unaccustomed feeling of warmth and caring, it’s probably because the first national conference of the Compassionate Friends is meeting in the Chicago Hilton & Towers, 720 S. Michigan. The group consists of people who’ve experienced the loss of a child; more than 1,800 of them are expected at this self-help conference. There’ll be workshops for both parents and siblings, as well as private “sharing sessions.” Walk-up registration is $40; the conference is open 9 to 5:15 today and 11 to 5:15 tomorrow. Sunday there’s a children’s memorial service at 10 AM. Call 922-4400 for details.

About five years ago several Chicago actors managed to appear on Oprah, Geraldo, and Sally Jessy Raphael by pretending to be things they weren’t: a sexual surrogate and a 30-year-old male virgin among other things. 2 Days of Living Hell With Sally Jessy Raphael is Sliced Bread Productions’ upcoming show (it opens in September) based on their stories. The company’s fund-raising party tonight, 1 Night of Living Hell, will feature refreshments, music from the Flaming Toasters, and an early preview of parts of the show. It’s $5, at the Silky Jumbo Laboratories, 1720 N. Marshfield, third floor, starting at 8; more info at 384-4022.

Saturday 31

The performance art magazine P-Form has seen its annual fund-raiser at Randolph Street Gallery become one of the most anticipated events of the year, as the cream of the city’s avant-garde dream up installations and performances for the three-ring-circus setup. This year’s show, the fourth annual Psycho Circus, includes installations from Katharine Boyd, Anna Brown, and Ames Hall, performers Cheryl Trykv, John Connors, Matthew Owens, and Marcia Wilkie, and a dance party to top off the evening. Tickets are $7, $6 for students, free with a P-Form subscription. Randolph Street Gallery is at 756 N. Milwaukee. Doors open at 7, and things get under way at 8; 666-7737.

Here’s the rather convoluted modus operandi of Cast on a Hot Tin Roof, the improv show performed by the Free Associates Saturday nights at the Bop Shop: The audience is asked to come up with three characters with “burning secrets, lost dreams, and misguided representations.” Then the audience decides on a strange profession for a Tennessee Williams character (Stanley Kowalski as a church organist, say). All the characters are then plunked down in an imaginary southern town, and the cast improvises around the resulting mix. The show celebrates its second anniversary tonight at 8; seven bucks gets you the show, cake, champagne, and jazz afterward. The Bop Shop is at 1807 W. Division; call 784-2745 for info.


Sunday 1

The Lira Singers–an artists-in-residence choral group at Montay College, a Catholic school run by the Felician Sisters–are presenting an evening of Polish and American music tonight. You’ll hear excerpts from the opera Straszny Dwor (“The Haunted Manor”) by Stanislaw Moniuszko, parts of Porgy and Bess, and the full Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin at the open-air concert, which starts at 3 and costs $10, $5 for kids 14 and under. The college is at 3750 W. Peterson. Call 539-4900 for more.

In anticipation of the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault conference (see Wednesday), the Women & Children First bookstore is presenting Expressions of Hope and Feeling, a free night of poetry and prose readings and music from survivors of incest and sexual abuse. It starts at 6:30 at the bookstore, 5233 N. Clark; call 769-9299.

Monday 2

French music is the theme of tonight’s installment of the Hyde Park Chamber Music Festival. Starting at 8 at the First Unitarian Church, 5650 S. Woodlawn, soprano Patrice Michaels Bedi will sing Jacques Ibert’s Aria, Frank Martin’s Trois chants de Noel, and Albert Roussel’s Deux poems de Ronsard, Faure’s Morceau de concours, and various songs by Lili Boulanger. She’ll be accompanied by flutist Jeffrey Cohan and pianist Thomas Weisflog. Thursday, Cohan will play concerti by Vivaldi, Johann Joachim Quantz, and Johann Stamitz at 8 PM at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church, 5472 S. Kimbark. The suggested donation is $8, $5 for students and seniors. More info at 493-2409.

Tuesday 3

The Year Kathy Lost Her Ears, or Themesong of the Quad Cities is about “a gawky 12-year-old boy named Adam as he politely tries to make a place for himself in a world of factory layoffs, school closings, and skewed adult logic.” The hour-long play was conceived and is performed by Moline native Mark Kretzmann; it shows Tuesdays at 9:30 PM and Sundays at 2 (except for Sunday, August 29, when show time is 4:30) through August 31 at Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark. Admission is $5; call 708-492-5066 for reservations and information.

Wednesday 4

Catharine MacKinnon–Ann Arbor prof, radical feminist theorist, conservative bete noire–keynotes the 15th annual conference of the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault, in town through Saturday at the Palmer House, 17 E. Monroe. The author of Toward a Feminist Theory of the State, known for her work with Andrea Dworkin on antipornography laws in Minneapolis and Canada, talks tonight at 7. The conference’s sessions begin this morning at 8:30 with “Latinas and Incest” and over the next four days encompass everything from “Strategies for Sexual Abuse Work in the Church Community” to “Hate Violence Against Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals.” There’s also lots of accompanying stuff, from early-morning self-defense training to an open mike “speak out” (Saturday at 4:30). Registration is $80 a day or $225 for the whole shebang; you can see MacKinnon tonight for ten bucks. Call the sponsoring Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault in Springfield at 217-753-4117 for details.

About Japanese art Vincent van Gogh once wrote: “We see the wisdom, philosophy, and intelligence (of the creator) given over, not to studying the distance between the earth and the moon, or the policy of Bismarck–or to the grandness of the mountains–but to a single blade of grass.” From that bit of rapture comes the title of a show of Japanese art at the May Weber Museum of Cultural Arts at 299 E. Ontario. The museum is going broke and reports that it will close October 31 without a quick injection of cash. For now, though, it’s persevering; the ongoing exhibit A Single Blade of Grass: The Japanese Vision is having a mid-run soiree tonight from 6:30 to 8:30; it’s free. The number is 787-4477.

Thursday 5

The answer to the question “What did Chicago learn from the 1993 World Congress of Architects?” could well be a resounding “Nothing,” but the Friends of Downtown are pressing ahead nonetheless: that’s the title of their free brown bag luncheon in the Chicago Cultural Center today. A number of local architects will talk about the congress, which was in June, and what Chicago might draw from it. It’s at noon in the East Meeting Room on the fifth floor of the center, 78 E. Washington. Call 977-0098.

Runners reading this before Wednesday, August 4, can still slip into the Chemical Bank Corporate Challenge, a 3.5-mile race than benefits Chicago running programs for kids. The event is supposed to be limited to “employees of corporations, businesses, and financial institutions,” but that includes a pretty hefty percentage of the population if you think about it. Registration costs $17, and you have to do it at the Chicago Hilton & Towers, 720 S. Michigan, by the end of the day Wednesday. The race starts at 6:45 tonight at the corner of Balbo and Columbus in Grant Park. More than 14,000 participants are expected. Call 274-6792 for registration details.