Friday 11/7 – Thursday 11/13
By Cara Jepsen
7 FRIDAY In the years before World War II, Max, the protagonist of Martin Sherman’s play Bent, is a sophisticated playboy whose life revolves around Berlin’s decadent nightclub scene. But when Hitler begins his reign of terror Max ends up at Dachau, where he meets Horst. Their relationship is at the center of a new British screen adaptation, which features Mick Jagger in a cameo as a bar owner named Greta. It kicks off the 17th Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival, which will also show several related historical German films, including Different From the Others and Sex in Chains. Bent will be shown at 7 tonight at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport. Festivities will continue at 9:15 at Circuit, 3641 N. Halsted, where revelers may view two related photo exhibits, “The Legacy of Magnus Hirschfeld: One Hundred Years of the Gay Movement in Germany” and “Transvestites.” Honey West will also perform. Admission to the party and the film is $25 (which includes an open bar). Call 312-409-5553 for more.
8 SATURDAY Chinese president Jiang Zemin’s recent visit to the U.S. didn’t improve his image at Amnesty International, which has long been monitoring China’s human rights abuses. This morning Chinese dissident, author, and former political prisoner Harry Wu will speak at this weekend’s Amnesty International Midwest Regional Conference. He’ll discuss the 19 years he spent in a prison labor camp for speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party, his departure and return to China in 1995, his subsequent arrest, and how an international campaign on his behalf hastened his release. Wu speaks at 9 AM at Northwestern University’s Norris Center, 1999 S. Campus Drive. It’s $5, $15 for the day, or $30 for the entire three-day conference (which starts on Friday). Call 312-427-2060.
Prairie school architect George W. Maher used a “motif-rhythm theory” to give his buildings visual unity, repeating patterns of flowers, animals, and geometric designs on fireplaces, windows, floors, mirrors, moldings, and light fixtures. Many of his rectilinear homes are in Kenilworth, where he lived; there are also several on Hutchinson Street here in the city. Two of those privately owned homes will be open to the public as part of a tour called The Ins and Outs of Historic Hutchinson Street. It’s sponsored by the Pleasant Home Foundation, which is working to restore the turn-of-the-century Maher home in Oak Park that the group is named after. The guided walking tour of the area begins today at 4 and lasts until 7. Meet at the intersection of Hutchinson and Marine Drive. It’s $55, which includes cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Call 708-383-2654.
9 SUNDAY All most people know about Iceland is that Bjork is from there, you fly over it on your way to Europe, and it must be a lot like Chicago in January. You can choose not to remain ignorant by attending the Geographic Society of Chicago’s screening of the film Europe’s Wild Gem: Iceland, which will be accompanied by live narration. If the thought of Iceland doesn’t warm you up, the society’s weekend travel-adventure series continues through March and will focus on Hong Kong, Hawaii, and Spain, among other places. The presentation is today at 2 (as well as Saturday at 11 and 2) at the Harold Washington Library Center Auditorium, 200 S. State. Tickets are $6.50; call 312-726-5293 for more.
10 MONDAY Polls reveal that Americans are more afraid of giving a speech in public than they are of dying. Today the people at the Actors Gymnasium will try to make it all a bit less scary with a ten-week class on how to write and stage personal monologues and solo material. It will be taught by Neo-Futurist Rachel Claff, and the class will culminate in a group performance. Classes are from 7:30 to 9 on Mondays, beginning tonight and continuing through January 12, at the Actors Gymnasium in the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes, Evanston. Tuition is $120; call 847-328-2795 to register.
11 TUESDAY Three thousand years ago, more of the Nile valley was fertile. Recently, an international community of Islamic and Christian families called Sekem worked together to return 200 acres of barren Egyptian desert to fruitfulness using organic methods of agriculture. Sekem also runs a school and offers courses on pedagogy, agriculture, and the arts. The community’s founder, Ibrahim Abouleish, will discuss Sekem and its work tonight in a talk called The Story of Sekem–Christianity and Islam: Living in Harmony in Egypt, sponsored by the Rudolf Steiner Branch of the Anthroposophical Society in America. It’s at 8 in suite 825 of the Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan. A $10 donation is suggested; call 312-663-6684 for more.
12 WEDNESDAY During a long-ago visit to New York City a couple of friends took me to see the experimental theater ensemble the Wooster Group. “You’re in for a real treat,” they said, but all I remember about the vaguely disturbing performance was that founding member Willem Dafoe appeared only on video and that I left feeling dumb. Those who appreciate the complexities and subtleties of the group’s work will be pleased to know it hits town this week to present House/Lights, which draws on Gertrude Stein’s Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights and the 1960s cult film Olga’s House of Shame. The multimedia performance uses a collage format, mixing film, video, classic texts, and high-tech sound with performance styles that range from vaudeville to Kabuki. It also features music by composers Hans Peter Kuhn and John Lurie. House/Lights premieres tonight at 7:30 (with additional performances tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. Tickets are $22, $20 for students and seniors. Call 312-397-4010.
13 THURSDAY After World War II there wasn’t much of a Jewish community left in Vienna, though the city was once a great center for Jewish intellectual life and the home of such influential figures as Freud and Schoenberg. But today its Jewish population is growing once again. Photographer Harry Weber lived in Vienna before the war and then chose to return; he documented the city’s changes in an exhibit called “Vienna Today,” which is currently at the Spertus Museum. As part of the exhibit, Thomas Lachs of the Jewish Museum of Vienna will discuss Jewish Life in Today’s Vienna. A reception starts tonight at 5:30 and the lecture begins at 6. It’s at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 618 S. Michigan. Admission is free for tonight’s event; otherwise it costs $5 to see the exhibit, $3 for students and seniors. Call 312-322-1747.