Offered as an adjunct to the annual summer Rhinoceros Theater Festival, this showcase of fringe entertainment features mostly new work by the Curious Theatre Branch, Theater for the Age of Gold, and other ensembles and individuals. “The fest is all about risk taking, form bending, and brain stoking. By definition it will produce disasters as well as triumphs–and few opportunities are more valuable to an artistic community than a safe place to fail,” says Reader critic Justin Hayford.

The Rhino in Winter runs through March 15 at the Lunar Cabaret, 2827 N. Lincoln; for reservations and information, call 773-327-6666. Tickets are $10 per show or “pay what you can” for all theater events, and $5 (“no debate”) for music events.

Festival offerings are listed on a week-by-week basis (audiences are advised to call the theater for updates); following is the schedule for February 19 through 26.


“Do I Contradict Myself? Very Well, I Contradict Myself”

Monologuist Beau O’Reilly and poet John Starrs perform the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and Walt Whitman as part of the festival’s “Thursday Beat Night.” 8 PM.


Fridge Strings: Nocturne w/Fruit & Grandmother

Amanda Clower’s one-woman show finds a late-night refrigeraider examining her relationships with her mother and grandmother. Jenny Magnus directs for Flying Girl. “Sometimes Clower gets stuck in her metaphors. . . . Mostly, however, this 40-minute late-night show works; Clower’s sleep-talking rings true, and her shocks of recognition make [her character’s] obsessions wakingly real,” said Reader critic Lawrence Bommer when he reviewed the piece’s original run. 8 PM.


Performance artist Lawrence Steger presents his solo work in progress about “the moment of betrayal and the renegotiation of the terms of the original contract.” 10 PM. (Reviewed this week in Section One.)


The Strange

The Curious Theatre Branch presents Jenny Magnus and Amy Warren in Magnus’s new play about “drunkenness and dreams, mimetics and idea infection, and innocence and experience.” The play “epitomizes the kind of intelligent, demanding, mind-overhauling work the Rhino fests are famous for. Still struggling to emerge from the weight of overwriting, this is a play with a problem Magnus seems to have identified already: as the piece progresses, she strips it down to an essence, delivering a sobering punch,” says Reader critic Justin Hayford. 8 PM.

The Problematic Cartoonist

Jeff Dorchen’s new play, presented by Theater for the Age of Gold, concerns a man who becomes obsessed with a cartoon in a magazine in a doctor’s waiting room. 10 PM.


Partners, Glaucoma, and Franky

These three plays, by Salem Collo-Julin, Abby Sher, and Sue Ann Jewers respectively, were written in a Curious School Writing Workshop. 2 PM.

The Hidden Chronicles and Jamie O’Reilly The festival’s “Sundays at 7” series features “The Hidden Chronicles,” a program of “art songs from the cabaret closet” by Beau O’Reilly and Michael Greenberg. Also featured is folksinger Jamie O’Reilly. 7 PM.


Man to Man

This program of two plays by Mark Guarino includes The Cool Down, about two baseball buddies–one straight and one gay–groping toward expressing a nonsexual intimacy, and When/What, about two lost people. “Despite serviceable performances, . . . Guarino’s clipped, poetic lines are too contrived to shed much light on the characters” in The Cool Down, and When/What “is even more contrived and stilted. . . . Guarino seems to want to say something more about male intimacy in this second play, but given its cryptic dialogue, I can’t fathom what it is,” says Reader critic Justin Hayford. 8 PM.


The Frederick Lonberg-Holm Lightbox Ensemble Concert #4

The festival’s “Tuesday Night Jazz” series features a program of music for large ensemble. 8 PM.


“Do I Contradict Myself? Very Well, I Contradict Myself” and October in the Railroad Earth

The festival’s “Thursday Beat Night” features two performance pieces. The first features Beau O’Reilly and John Starrs performing poetry by Allen Ginsberg and Walt Whitman; the second is a new “monologue/aria” by Frank Melcori based on the writings of Jack Kerouac. 8 PM.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Fridge Strings; Nocturne w/ Fruit & Grandmother photo by Cristen Nestor.