This multidisciplinary event, presented by Performing Arts Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, runs weekends through 4/10. The avant-garde showcase, now in its third year, features established and emerging artists (including a number of SAIC students and alumni) working in theater, performance, circus arts, puppetry, storytelling, dance, music, video, and sound and installation art. The shows range from family-oriented to adults-only. Participants include Goat Island, the Curious Theatre Branch, Free Street, Theater Oobleck, the Hypocrites, the Neo-Futurists, Plasticene, Teatro Luna, Mathew Wilson, Mad Shak Dance Company, and many more.

All activities take place at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; the sprawling arts complex hosts often simultaneous performances and installations on its main and studio stages and in offices, lounges, hallways, stairwells, and other spaces–even the alley behind the building. The fest also offers workshops and panels with participating artists as shown below.

Prices for most events range from $5 to $20, though workshops generally cost more and some events and installations are free; see listings for details. For tickets and more information, and to register for workshops, call Performing Arts Chicago at 773-722-5463. Tickets can also be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 312-902-1500 or logging on to Following is the schedule through 3/27; a complete schedule is available online at



Members of Clover Morell confront people entering the building in an “accusatory manner.” a 6:30 PM, main lobby. Free.


Members of Clover Morell apologize. a Various times, Curtain Call Club. Free.

Bracing Nerves

Two women performing as 3 Card Molly stroll throughout the Athenaeum “evoking images of architectural decay and bodily illness.” a 6:30 PM. Free.

For the Fashion Impaired

Maggie Morgan presents an experimental, performative fashion piece. a 6:30-7:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

Scheduled Activity

Deva Eveland’s performance installation features “a series of social occasions and events attended by the artist only. Viewers may safely watch from the outside,” a press release advises. a 6:30-10:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

N Pluto: The Opera

No, it’s not successful. And it’s not well-done. But it’s not to be dismissed, either. Too often Idris Goodwin’s hip-hop history of “Pluto”–aka Chicago–comes across like a pageant at a progressive middle school. Director Tony Sancho’s game but incoherent cast performs ten vignettes from the life of the city, starting with the arrival of menacing Frenchmen in the 1700s and culminating with a present-day mayoral debate. Along the way we see Pluto as a depot on the underground railway, a magnet for immigrants, etc. The politics are Pilsen-mural subtle, but Goodwin plays them out in interesting ways–keeping the French offstage, for instance, so we experience their menace exclusively through the behavior of the Indians. Similarly, his libretto resists the music, turning Pluto: The Opera into an epic rap recitative. The piece may fail, but it marks Goodwin as an inventive talent in progress. –Tony Adler a 7 PM, Studio 1. $15.

Performance of Sleep in One Long Act Without Intermission

Live Action Cartoonists’ world premiere is inspired by true stories about sleep and death. This tedious piece about mercy killing and the death penalty is cartoonish for the first hour–when it’s dominated by an annoying kiddie-show format apparently meant to justify the fact we’re being told lots of things we already know–and deadly serious for the last 30 minutes. (LM) a 7 PM, Studio 2. $15.

Surrelium and eidolon

Lucky Plush restages Julia Rhoads’s 2003 Surrelium, a piece in six sections that features floating balloon sculptures and a giant inflatable “house.” Former Hubbard Street dancer Lauri Stallings, a choreographer known for her quirky sensibility, presents a multidisciplinary world premiere, eidolon, on the same program. a 7:30 PM, main stage. $20.

R The Hunchback Variations

Chicago’s experimental, directorless Theater Oobleck presents Mickle Maher’s comedy, which takes the form of a panel discussion between Quasimodo, the deaf bell ringer of Notre Dame cathedral, and the hearing-impaired composer Beethoven. Maher is a master at creating complex, paradoxical works that encompass their own contradictions. Here he mocks academic examinations of the creative process even as he engages in a complicated deconstruction of creativity. (JHe) a 7:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

Loong: A Three Dimensional Shadow Puppetry Performance

The Rubber Monkey Puppet Company presents a 3-D shadow puppet production. a 9:30 PM, Studio 2. $15.


Plasticene presents a physical-theater piece about “four people who are thrown off the edges of life and are struggling to find balance as they fall.” a 9:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

N Mountains Clouds Turbulence Coastlines

Wholesale Chicago’s multimedia antiwar piece, directed by Dolores Wilber, is blessedly oblique and nonaccusatory. Two towering men in orange jumpsuits (Steven Thompson and Douglas Grew) repeat such odd actions as spinning a safety pin on a clothesline and pretending to cook nonfood items, including what looks like sawdust with turds in it. At times the work seems an exercise in aversion therapy, as if comically gruesome sights, simulated or on video, would turn us from our warring ways. Voice-over texts provide the piece’s spirit of exploration and sense of forgiveness, especially quotes from two Middle Eastern boys, best friends, who want to be martyred together. Wholesale Chicago looks at the origins of war in boyhood friendships and ideals, even ideals of punishment. But the group packs too much into 35 minutes–the work is like a three-ring circus of allusions and images all squashed into one ring. –Laura Molzahn a 10 PM, Studio 1. $15.

Come and Go, Not I, and Footfalls

The Hypocrites perform three short Samuel Beckett plays about “the relationships of women to each other and themselves.” a 10 PM, main stage. $15.


Young Chicago Authors Workshop

Kevin Coval, a consultant to HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and cofounder of the Chicago Teen Poetry Festival, conducts this workshop focusing on “the aesthetics of hip-hop poetics.” a Noon, Studio 3. $5

Down in the New Chair Some More

Twelve scenes and short plays by School of the Art Institute student playwrights are directed by Beau O’Reilly and Stefan Brun. a 1 PM, Studio 2. $5.

Children’s Story Readings

This kids’ event features various PAC/edge participants reading from their favorite children’s stories. a Every half hour from 1-4 PM, Curtain Call Club. $5 (includes juice and cookies).

Urban Navigations

The teen performers of Street Level Youth Media “experiment with self-portraiture in relation to notions of community contact, home and neighborhood.” a 1:30 PM, corridors throughout the building. Free.

R Too Much Light Kids!

The Neo-Futurists perform 30 original plays in 60 minutes in this family-oriented version of their long-running Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Quick and dirty, the format requires viewers to yell out numbers to determine the order of the plays; other audience-participation opportunities are equally nonthreatening but thrilling. The show is recommended for children aged six and older. (LM) a 2 PM, Studio 1. $5 (includes juice and cookies).

Economies of Touch

Sheelah Murthy “will give bodywork to people connected with the sex industry and ask viewers to meditate on their own complicity in a complex global economy.” a 2-6:30 PM, main stage landing. Free.


Mark Baldridge plays an original composition using the Athenaeum’s fire escape as an instrument. a 2 PM, fire escape. Free.


This panel examines the use of “uncomfortable” subject matter, presentation aspects, and process in performance work. Participants include Trevor Martin, Kym Olsen, Loren Crawford, Craig Harshaw, Reader critic Laura Molzahn, and others. a 4 PM, Studio 3. Free.

The Best of “Louder Than a Bomb”

Young Chicago Authors presents highlights from this year’s teen poetry slam festival. a 4:30 PM, Studio 2. $5.

Mountains Clouds Turbulence Coastlines

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 5 PM, Studio 1. $15.

Goat Island Books and CD Launch

Members of the Goat Island performance troupe read from When Will the September Roses Bloom? Last Night Was Only a Comedy–Reading Companion and North True South Free. a 6 PM, Studio 3. $5.


See listing for Fri 3/25. a 6:30 PM, main lobby. Free.


See listing for Fri 3/25. a Various times, Curtain Call Club. Free.


George Orange “entertains waiting crowds with various antics.” a 6:30 PM, outside of Studio 1, Studio 2, and Studio 3 at various points. Free.

Scheduled Activity

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 6:30-10:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

N The Turtle at Play

The homicide that ends the first act paves the way for the introduction of a character in the second who deserves her own play, maybe even her own PBS series. As portrayed by Teresa Weed–whose mere presence enhances the performance of every player around her–Inspector Emily doesn’t so much apprehend crooks as charm them with her huge eyes and seductive voice. Good thing, too, since the story surrounding her is downright soporific in its unoriginality. If playwright Beau O’Reilly had focused on her and on Danne Taylor’s genially creepy photographer, Kat McJimsey’s Joan Cusack-style waif, and Jeff Bivens’s enigmatic shell dweller, the results might have been worthier of the Curious Theatre Branch’s talents. –Mary Shen Barnidge a 7 PM, Studio 1. $15.

R L’Air Lair

Dancer-choreographer Asimina Chremos and director Kairol Rosenthal stage a work for an audience of five people at a time in the Athenaeum’s cramped vending machine room. Chremos is joined by singer Dan Mohr, whose beautiful voice fills the room with a traditional Corsican song while Chremos dabbles her bare feet in imaginary water; the fact that the song is a lament by a man leaving his loved ones to go off to war gives the piece a political edge. At 20 minutes L’Air Lair is the perfect length, though the price is a bit steep. (LM) a 7, 8, 9, and 10 PM, vending machine room. $10.

Brianne Waychoff

Waychoff explores “feminist ideals and hysterics as she tap dances herself to exhaustion.” a 7 PM, main lobby. Free.

Surrelium and eidolon

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 7:30 PM, main stage. $20.

N Una Probadita de S-E-X-Oh!

Teatro Luna’s work, which explores Latinas’ inner lives and the outer social pressures on them, keeps getting deeper and more engaging. This probadita–taste–of the ensemble’s views on sex, presented in monologues and short scenes, is original and occasionally shattering, especially an abortion monologue performed without sentimentality by Dana Cruz. Miranda Gonzalez is bitterly wry as a phone sex operator in bits threaded throughout the evening: she tries to convince herself she’s only acting as she handles increasingly creepy clients. A few scenes portray some of the most realistic glimpses of lesbian life I’ve seen onstage. Coya Paz and Tanya Saracho direct what’s called a work in progress, and occasionally it does feel a little long and somewhat choppy. But it’s written with sharp honesty and performed with an easy, relaxed humor sometimes missing from previous shows. –Jennifer Vanasco a 7:30 PM, Studio 2. $15.

For the Fashion Impaired

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 7:30-8:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

Discarded Landscape

Weather Talking’s world premiere, directed by Brian Torrey Scott, is far too long and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The program lists the characters as a father, son, and daughter while the antics onstage suggest they belong to a highly dysfunctional family. By the end it appears the mother (an offstage narrator played by Scott) has died and none of them is dealing with it very well, which somehow results in incestuous grappling between the father and daughter, then between the daughter and son. Jeff Harms, engaging and often funny as the father, is the only good thing about this nerve-jangling piece. (LM) a 8 PM, Studio 3. $15.

R White Suit Science (Refitted!)

Writer-director Shawn Reddy’s comedy–by turns satiric, sarcastic, surreal, and painfully sincere–begins as a discussion of Mark Twain, but turns into a fascinating postmodern analysis of whiteness and the ongoing whitewashing of history. It’s presented by the Magpies. (JHe) a 10 PM, Studio 1. $15.

Performance of Sleep in One Long Act Without Intermission

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 10 PM, Studio 2. $15.

Come and Go, Not I, and Footfalls

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 10 PM, main stage. $15.

R The Hunchback Variations

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 10:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.


Circuit Bending Workshop

The Rubber Monkey Puppet Company presents a workshop in “circuit bending”–the craft of turning audio toys into one-of-a-kind musical instruments and special effects generators. Participants should bring an inexpensive battery-powered toy. a 10 AM-3 PM, Studio 1. $25.

Down in the New Chair Some More

See listing for Sat 3/26. a Noon, Studio 2. $5.

Surrelium and eidolon

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 3 PM, main stage. $20.

Missing Memaw and Debut

Ruffian Pictures presents a program of short films: an adaptation of Loren Crawford’s solo piece Missing Memaw, about a solitary woman trying to find beauty in her memories, and Debut, a pair of music videos by Stephan Mazurek and Crawford in which four-year-old Jessamine Kindred Crawford performs “Que Sera Sera” and and “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” a 3:30 PM, Studio 2. $10.

Discarded Landscape

See listing for Sat 3/26. a 3:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.

Pluto: The Opera

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 4 PM, Studio 1. $15.

R L’Air Lair

See listing for Sat 3/26. a 5, 6, 7, and 8 PM, vending machine room. $10.

Loong: A Three Dimensional Shadow Puppetry Performance

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 5:30 PM, Studio 2. $15.

Action Item: DOG Does Not Perform

In video format, the DOG theater group “offers honest motives, clear dialogue, and compelling reasons for its utter and complete absence onstage.” a 6 PM, Studio 1. $15.


See listing for Fri 3/25. a 6:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.


See listing for Fri 3/25. a 6:30 PM, main lobby. Free.


See listing for Fri 3/25. a Various times, Curtain Call Club. Free.

For the Fashion Impaired

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 6:30-7:30 PM, second-floor corridor. Free.

Come and Go, Not I, and Footfalls

See listing for Fri 3/25. a 7 PM, main stage. $15.

Una Probadita de S-E-X-Oh!

See listing for Sat 3/26. a 7:30 PM, Studio 2. $15.

The Turtle at Play

See listing for Sat 3/26. a 8 PM, Studio 1. $15.

Duet for Hattie

Kym Olsen and Trevor Martin, aka Morganville, offer a new work in progress inspired by Flora Rheta Schreiber’s 1973 classic about multiple personalities, Sybil. a 8:30 PM, Studio 3. $15.


Industry of the Ordinary

Mathew Wilson and Adam Brooks will, over the course of the festival, create works that challenge you to look at the ordinary in a new light. See documentation at Ongoing during festival hours, throughout the Athenaeum. Free.


Art installation by Lori Hall-Araujo, inspired by Plasticene’s production of Refuge (see listing for Fri 3/25), creates “accidental encounters” and “slices of life” throughout the Athenaeum. Free.


Sandra Binion’s recent trip to Cuba inspired her exploration of political and cultural myths surrounding the island nation’s identity as a “forbidden” place. Second-floor foyer. Free.


Ryan Mitchell Flesher’s eight-minute piece depicts a swimmer crossing a void. Projected on front windows of Athenaeum.


Malin Lindelow’s installation seeks to reclaim the ancient tradition of expressing grief. Festival-goers will have the opportunity to add their wails to the soundscape throughout the festival. Sun 5-7 PM.


This installation by Mrs. Rao’s Growl (Sheelah Murthy and Anuj Vaidya) attempts to move into the space of “psychic seepage” through laughter. First-floor corridor. Free.

Intermission Machines: Self-Running Random Shadow Generators

The Rubber Monkey Puppet Company has set up several “intermission machines” throughout the Athenaeum to create shadow puppet collages. Free.

Tell Us a Secret and Mundane Tasks

Anti Gravity Surprise asks viewers to perform “cultural research” in these installations throughout the Athenaeum that explore the concept of work as identity.