Offered as an adjunct to the annual summer Rhinoceros Theater and Performance Festival, this monthlong showcase of fringe entertainment features mostly new work by such ensembles and individuals as the Curious Theatre Branch, Dolphinback Theatre Company, Ira Glass, Frank Melcori, Theater Oobleck, Jamie O’Reilly, Michael Smith, the Saint Ed theater company, and John Starrs, among others. The festival runs through March 9 at three locations: the Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; Link’s Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield; and Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark. The phone number for reservations and information for all shows is 773-327-6666, ext. 3. Performances take place most nights (except Tuesdays), generally starting at 8 PM, as indicated in the listings below. (These listings are subject to change; audiences are advised to call the festival for late updates.) Tickets are $10 per show (except where noted in individual listings) or “pay what you can.”

The Reader’s Guide lists festival offerings on a week-by-week basis; following is the schedule for February 27 through March 6.


The Queen of Bakersfield & Other Tales of Dust & Moonlight Dolphinback Theatre Company’s artistic director KellyAnn Corcoran performs writer Greg Owens’s “loose collection of stories and songs [exploring] the well-mined world of trailer parks, beehive hairdos, and Elvis worship. To Owens’s credit, he also captures a far less discussed side of blue-collar life–its unwed mothers, suicidal depression, and diminishing job opportunities. But it’s very odd to see moments with the tang of truth side by side with scenes that are total bullshit,” says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

Points of Arrival: A Jean Donovan Journey Paul Amandes’s drama about Jean Donovan, a 27-year-old American Catholic lay worker who was murdered along with three nuns by an El Salvadoran death squad in 1980, is directed by Beau O’Reilly for the Still Point Theatre Collective. “Donovan’s story cries out to be told, [but] Amandes has written an uneven play that sometimes crackles with intensity [but] sometimes lapses into the sort of preaching to the converted that’s given agitprop a bad name,” says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Live Bait Theater, 8 PM.


Pasiones: The Songs of the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 Folksingers Jamie O’Reilly and Michael Smith and director Peter Glazer weave anthems from the Spanish civil war into a one-act music-theater piece. The singers “embrace the difficult Andalusian rhythms and Moorish halftones with unyielding conviction and gemutlichkeit,” says Reader critic Mary Shen Barnidge of this stirring tribute to the fight against fascism. Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

Points of Arrival: A Jean Donovan Journey See listing for Thursday, February 27. Live Bait Theater, 8 PM.

Seeing Red, Snow White, and Blue: A Psychoanalytic Musical Performance artist/psychologist Wylie Goodman explores “feminist and feminized notions of performance/love” in this multimedia solo piece, whose text is derived from Freud, Derrida, and The Rules. “Goodman’s first professional appearance since she left Theater Oobleck is an intelligently conceived, somewhat raggedly executed . . . show intended to deconstruct Disney-fied fairy tales, audience attitudes toward cinematic fairy tales, and performance artists who try to deconstruct Disney-fied fairy tales and audience attitudes. . . . A good comic anarchist with a marvelous dry sense of humor, Goodman leaves no sacred cow ungored. Even her forays into doctrinaire feminist theory are accomplished in a spirit of skepticism that makes this show the very antithesis of agitprop,” says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Lunar Cabaret, 10 PM.


3 Cuba Anti-Castro fanatic Jesse Helms might approve of this trilogy of theater pieces: two concern Cuban emigres in or on their way to America, and the third depicts the Kennedy-era paranoid episode known as the Cuban missile crisis. The Cuban Missile Crisis, by Frank Melcori, is a play about three American sailors on alert during the 1962 incident; Beau O’Reilly directs. We Came All the Way From Cuba Just So You Could Dress Like This, adapted from Chicago Tribune writer Achy Obejas’s book about a 10-year-old Cuban girl’s journey to the U.S. in 1963, is staged by O’Reilly and Sharon Goepfort and performed by Goepfort. And Cuban Grouper, by Scott Turner, concerns a Cuban boat person trying to make his way to Florida in the 1990s; Paul Amandes directs. Live Bait Theater, 7 PM.

The Queen of Bakersfield & Other Tales of Dust & Moonlight See listing for Thursday, February 27. Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

The Fever Dolphinback Theatre Company’s production of Wallace Shawn’s one-man drama features Brad Light as an American beset by illness and conscience in a Latin American country. “The Fever is [an] angry, fanatical, . . . surprisingly sharp critique of privilege and class. . . . Brad Light . . . dives deep, performing Shawn’s monologue with such intensity that it’s impossible to take your eyes off him [as he] captures the anguish, disgust, guilt, and sputtering rage behind [the] words. And the effect is riveting,” says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Lunar Cabaret, 10 PM. Note: Tickets for both The Queen of Bakersfield & Other Tales of Dust & Moonlight and The Fever the same evening are $15 or “pay what you can.”


3 Cuba See listing for Saturday, March 1. Live Bait Theater, 2 PM.

The Dumb Waiter The Saint Ed theater company performs Harold Pinter’s early one-act about two hit men whiling away their time in idle conversation while awaiting orders. “Played well, The Dumb Waiter can nearly asphyxiate an audience with its excruciating hilarity. [But] Saint Ed’s hesitant production achieves the necessary suffocating suspense only in rare moments,” says Reader critic Justin Hayford. Live Bait Theater, 8 PM.


Jimmy’s Roomers: The Neighborhood Stories Veteran Chicago poet John Starrs performs tales of “a Catholic Irish Chicago not so long ago.” Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.


Babette’s Feast: A Play in Eight Courses Isak Dinesen’s story, about a 19th-century French cook who escapes political unrest in Paris by resettling to a Norwegian village, is adapted by David Isaacson and performed by Theater Oobleck, which invites the audience to join the actors in ingesting a full meal. “Although the evening is cleanly structured by [its] eight courses and by the gentle, inevitable opening up of Dinesen’s characters as they experience the pleasures of a delightful meal, Oobleck’s adaptation . . . puts an intriguing sardonic spin on the story’s notions of community, [making] for a multisensory, goofy, serious, flawed, almost perfect, very real event,” says Reader critic Carol Burbank. Note: Special reservations are required due to dinner seating: call 773-784-8983. The price for dinner and show is $17, “more if you’ve got it, free if you’re broke.” Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.


The Queen of Bakersfield & Other Tales of Dust & Moonlight See listing for Thursday, February 27. Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

Points of Arrival: A Jean Donovan Journey See listing for Thursday, February 27. Live Bait Theater, 8 PM.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Iwona Biedermann.