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M. P. Sankaran Namboodiri will be at the University of Chicago tonight to give us a taste of Kathakali, a dance and drama exercise from the Indian state of Kerala. A drum work called the keli will be played as Namboodiri comes onstage and applies his elaborate makeup. Then he’ll perform two scenes from The Slaying of the Demon Naraka (Narakasuravadha). A preshow lecture/demonstration will take place at noon in room 103-4 of Foster Hall, 1130 E. 59th St. The performance is at 8 in the university’s International House, 1414 E. 59th. Both events are free; call 702-8635 for details.
Ever wanted to see in person the famous courtship ritual of the greater prairie chicken? Then jump on the bus for the Chicago Academy of Sciences’ field trip to the Buena Vista Area near Stevens Point, Wisconsin, which is one of the only places east of the Mississippi you can see the legendary stomping. The academy’s van leaves the museum at 4:30 this afternoon and gets back at the same time tomorrow; observers will get up in the wee hours to help count the birds and to watch them do their thing; then there will be a stop at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo on the way home. The trip costs $45, $37 for members, plus accomodations ($29 for a single, $33 for a double) and meals; register at 549-0606.
Quilombo tells the story of Palmares, a breakaway nation of African slaves in 17th-century Brazil; though constantly challenged by Dutch and Portuguese colonists, Palmares held on to its autonomy for 100 years. The film was directed by Carlos Diegues, with a score by Gilberto Gil; it shows tonight at 7 in room 254 of DePaul’s Schmitt Center, 2323 N. Seminary. Following the film, there’ll be a talk by Jose Lopez, director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. It’s $5; call 278-6706 for info.
It was confusing for a while, but it now appears that Chicago faves the Blake Babies are no more–singer Juliana Hatfield has gone solo for good, and the band’s recent tour of Europe was merely a swan song. But guitarist John Strohm and drummer Freda Love have a new group, Antenna, which among other things is a showcase for Strohm’s simple and plangent songwriting. They’ll be at Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln, sometime after midnight tonight. Tickets are $7; call 525-6620 for details.
Lester Fisher is retiring this year after presiding over the Lincoln Park Zoo for 30 years, and that’s why today has been dubbed Lester Fisher Day at one of the last free-admission zoos in the world. Events begin with an elephant workout in the outdoor elephant habitat at 1. There’s a parade–complete with marching band–starting at 1:30 in the main mall, and you can hear a word from Fisher and see a sea lion feeding at 2 at the sea lion pool, after which the Jesse White Tumblers will bounce around. It’s all free. The zoo is at 2200 N. Cannon in Lincoln Park; call 935-6700 for more.
There’s a benefit for Experimental Sound Studios tonight at the HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee, and what a lineup. There’ll be a “sound installation” by Michael Burns; Julie Smith and the Bureauettes All-Girl Drawerkestra, who play marimbas and something called “dulcidrawers”; performance artist Michael K. Meyers; performances by Experimental Sound Studios capos Lou Mallozzi and Hal Rammel; and students from the studios’ instrument invention workshop. Singer Teria Gartelos is the emcee; following the show, there’s dancing with Las Toallitos. It’s $15, $12 for ESS members and students; $6 gets you in for just the dancing, which should start around 11. The rest of the show gets under way at 9; call 784-0449 for more info.
Four thousand entries from nearly 50 countries were submitted to the 1991 Cannes International Advertising Film Festival. A compilation of the 105 prizewinning commercials–described by one critic as a “crash course in international advertising techniques”–plays at Facets, 1517 W. Fullerton, through May 7. Sundays it starts at 5:30 and 7:30, Monday through Saturday at 7 and 9. Tickets are $5, $3 for Facets members; call 281-4114.
Performing Arts Chicago and the Dance Center of Columbia College have teamed up to present a variety of workshops and shows by the renowned Trisha Brown Company at the Harold Washington Library this week. Brown, who scored a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” a few years back, is one of the country’s most acclaimed postmodern dance practitioners. There’s a demonstration and lecture called “A Closer Look: Examining the World of Trisha Brown” today at 5:15; tomorrow at 2, Brown will talk about her work with some local dance professionals in a conversation led by Shirley Mordine, artistic director of the Dance Center. Both events take place in the theater of the new library, 400 S. State, and they’re both free. The company will also be giving full performances in the theater at 8 PM on Friday and Saturday, April 24 and 25; tickets for that are $18.50. Call 271-7928 for reservations or info.
Queen front man Freddie Mercury’s fear of having it known that he was dying of AIDS is an uncomfortable indication of the little that has been said–or done–about the disease in the rock ‘n’ roll world. But his death has sparked A Concert for Life, rock ‘n’ roll’s first large-scale AIDS benefit, being held tonight at London’s Wembley Stadium. You can watch the mega-star lineup–including David Bowie, Guns n’ Roses, Metallica, Elton John, U2, even the remnants of Queen–on the big screens at the China Club tonight starting at 7; there’ll be Queen cassettes for the first 300 in the door, which opens at 6, and a complimentary buffet. There’s no cover. The China Club is at 616 W. Fulton; call 466-0812 for more.
The World Federalist Association is planning a provocative move today: the group–which thinks that if the United Nations had more power a lot of the world’s nationalist shenanigans could be avoided–will be raising three flags this morning at 11 in front of the federal building at 230 S. Dearborn. How can this be provocative, you ask? Well, they plan to raise the U.S. flag but fly the United Nations and Earth Day flags above it, as a way to symbolize their feelings about the importance of world government. Since convention says you’re not supposed to raise any flag higher than the old Stars and Stripes, maybe the ever-ready VFW will be there to straighten ’em out. It’s free, of course; call 427-5409 for details.
“At my nativity,” says Glendower in Henry IV, Part I, “the front of heaven was full of fiery shapes / Of burning cressets; and at my birth / The frame and huge foundation of the earth / Shak’d like a coward.” “Why,” replies Hotspur, “so would it have done at the same season, if your mother’s cat had but kittened.” The Bard’s birth–rather less portentously indicated, one suspects–was 428 years ago today. You can celebrate it in style tonight at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton. Mary Beth Rose, the library’s director of Renaissance studies, and Barbara Gaines, artistic director of Shakespeare Repertory, will kick things off at 5:30; at 6 there’ll be some scenes from various plays done by members of the repertory, and at 6:30 there’ll be champagne, dessert, and balloons. You can also take a gander at the library’s first-edition copy of the Shakespeare folio, published in 1623. It’s $5, free to students and kids under 12; call 943-9090 ext. 310 for reservations or info.
A nonexistent airport, a bunch of political losers, John Callaway’s show Chicago Tonight, and–ahem–the Reader will be the pigskins tonight as the 1992 Gridiron Show kicks off a two-night stand at the Park West, 322 W. Armitage. The show, written and performed by local journalists, parodies politicians and the local media as a benefit for the Chicago Headline Club’s scholarship fund; this year’s version, Oh! Calumetta!, includes skits, musical numbers, and videos cobbled together over eight weeks of preparation. The shows are hosted by Channel Five’s Jackie Bange and Allison Rosati. Things get under way at 8; reserved seats cost $25, unreserved bar and balcony seats $17. Call Mary Ann O’Rourke at 565-1200 for details.