This annual showcase of experimental theater, performance, and music from Chicago’s fringe, coproduced by Curious Theatre Branch and Prop Thtr, runs through 11/4. This year features two full-length trilogies, “The Madelyn Trilogy” by Beau O’Reilly and the “Danger Face Trilogy” by Idris Goodwin. Admission is $15 or “pay what you can,” except where noted. Performances take place at the Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston, and the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, and elsewhere as noted below. An installation by Jamie Rey, Reconciliation, will be up in the Prop’s lobby for the course of the festival, along with a display of memorabilia of early off-Loop theater curated by Rick Paul. For information and reservations, call 773-539-7838 or visit rhinofest.com. Following is a schedule of shows opening through 9/6; a complete schedule is available at chicagoreader.com.
Bad Action Project Course Matt Test cites Plato, the Russian space program, and fantasy sports in his lecture/performance. a Through 10/8: Mon 7 PM. Prop Thtr, south theater.
Danger Face Idris Goodwin’s “Danger Face Trilogy” kicks off with this tale of two outlaws storming into a coffeehouse. a Thu 10/11, 9 PM. Prop Thtr, south theater, $15; $20 for the full trilogy.
The Big Palaver The festival concludes with an evening of new work by Mickle Maher, Jimmy Carrane, Bryn Magnus, Audrey Niffenegger, Jeff Dorchen, and others. Beau O’Reilly and Jenny Magnus host. a Sun 11/4, 3 PM, School of the Art Institute, ballroom, 112 S. Michigan, $20.
Black Box–A Play Crash The Billy Goat Experiment Theatre perform their play within a play in the tradition of the Marx Brothers. a Opens Thu 9/27, 7 PM. Through 10/25: Thu 7 PM, no show 10/11, Athenaeum Theatre.
The Boho Dance: Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsburg Beau O’Reilly and John Starrs pay tribute to the poets. a Mon 10/1 and 10/8, 7 PM. Prop Thtr, south theater.
A Break With Charity KellyAnn Corcoran’s adaptation of Ann Rinaldi’s young-adult novel about the Salem witch trials is the premiere production of the Corcoran School of Theater Arts. a Through 9/30: Sat-Sun 3 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
Danger Face 3 Idris Goodwin’s trilogy concludes with this third installment. a Through 10/6: Thu 9 PM, Fri-Sat 10 PM. Then Sat 10/13, 9 PM. Prop Thtr, south theater.
Distance = A Camel Caravan on a Grain of Rice: A Performance Duet in Six Parts Karen Christopher and Mark Jeffery use video images to investigate concepts of distance. a Fri-Sat 9/28-9/29, 7 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
Defender A prostitute in criminal court runs into an old boyfriend who’s now a lawyer in James Owens’s new play. a Through 10/3: Wed 7 PM, Prop Thtr.
Drive In Mark Young’s efficient 35-minute drama, two old flames are reunited during an all-night drive to attend the wedding of mutual friends. Young’s graceful dialogue, though at times precious, captures the cadences of interstate ennui and dead-end nostalgia, and attentive modulation of tempo gives this Side Project production an effortless momentum. But the situation isn’t intriguing enough or the characters interesting enough, and the ending is predictable. (JHa) a Through 10/1: Mon 7 PM, Prop Thtr, north theater.
Eat Shit In a little under an hour, our four culinary companions whip up a snack while acquainting us with their personal memories (and the sociological implications) of such regional cuisine as squirrel stew, whale steaks, tuna balls, and watermelon-rind pickles. We all eat, and it’s easy to love the ebullient recollections and irresistible aromas in this funny show by the Mill. (MSB) a Through 9/27: Thu 7 PM, Prop Thtr, south theater.
XV-XVI Century Northern Drawings from the Robert Lehman Collection 1978 BoyGirlBoyGirl present a quartet of solo pieces inspired by an exhibition catalog of Renaissance drawings. a 10/5-10/13: Fri-Sat 7 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
NFlat Danny At her best, solo performer-turned-playwright Barrie Cole charms with her childlike, word-drunk poetic language, then delivers heartfelt revelations about life and mortality. Her latest work, a two-act about a couple of friends and an estranged mother mourning a fallen U.S. soldier in Iraq, does neither very well. The wordplay is confined to a self-absorbed white rapper who thinks he’s black, and Cole’s meditations on war and death lack their usual freshness. Her characters are interesting, however, at least as they’re interpreted by director KellyAnn Corcoran’s ensemble; this is especially true of perpetually stoned protagonist Laird, played with brilliant goofiness by Boyd Harris. But Cole’s story ends just as things are beginning to heat up. –Jack Helbig a Through 9/29: Fri 7 PM, Sat 9 PM. Then Sun 10/7 and 10/14, 3 PM. Prop Thtr, south theater.
Girl Go Boom! Two short plays: Ferine, Carey Friedman’s update of Lysistrata, and Joe Meno’s Don the Army Blue, about a couple of army brats looking for “something resembling love.” a 10/5-10/13: Fri-Sat 9 PM, Thu 10/11, 7 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
The Great Cicada Letdown and Other Natural Disruptions That coyote in Quizno’s and other collisions between nature and the city are explored in this series of monologues and songs from the Magpies. a Fri-Sat 10/19-10/20, 9:30 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
Hitting the Bricks “The Madelyn Trilogy” concludes. The final play veers toward absurdism. I spent three hours wondering which way was up. (JHa) a Through 10/7: Sun 5 PM, Prop Thtr, north theater. Then Sun 10/21 and 10/28, 7 PM, Athenaeum Theatre. $15; $20 for the full trilogy.
Hollywood at Sunset In this 2002 comedy by Robert Patrick, a gay screenwriter wrestles with his fear of coming out in an industry dominated by closeted queers. Patrick’s wry humor is engaging, but the show is too long, and playing a scene on video is distracting in this People’s Theater of Chicago/Legacy Project production. (AW) a Through 10/1: Mon 7 PM, Prop Thtr, south theater.
(H)ourglass Julie Caffey and Leslie Swieck’s performance piece tells the story of a love affair between a theater manager and a church secretary. a Fri-Sat 10/19-10/20, 5:30 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
Lady Sings Jenny Magnus and Stephanie Rearick present a musical program. a Fri-Sat 10/26-10/27, 9:30 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
Madelyn Dangles the Noose The first part of Beau O’Reilly’s “The Madelyn Trilogy” introduces the McGuffin siblings at the funeral of Madelyn Glass, who was married to two of the brothers before committing suicide. O’Reilly has a unique feeling for the weird yet lyrical. The first two acts complement each other, but the third seems largely unnecessary. (JHa) a Through 10/5: Fri 7 PM, Prop Thtr, north theater. Then Fri 10/19 and 10/26, 7 PM, Athenaeum Theatre. $15; $20 for the full trilogy.
RThe McGuffins Run the 440 “The Madelyn Trilogy” continues the tale of the McGuffin siblings. This spare, efficient play is nearly perfect. I can’t recall a more satisfying two and a half hours I’ve spent in the theater. (JHa) a Through 10/6: Sat 7 PM, Prop Thtr, north theater. Then Sat 10/20 and 10/27, 7 PM, Athenaeum Theatre. $15; $20 for the full trilogy.
Mixtape Collision Theatre Company perform their “visual and aural theatrical expression” about the perfect track list. a Opens Wed 10/3, 9 PM. Through 10/25: Wed-Thu 9 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
My Pants Are Fire A program of “hyper-vignettes” from the Sansculottes Theater Company. a Sun 10/7 and 10/14, 3 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
Perfect Kitchen Sherry Antonini’s “prepared improvisational performance” about the kitchen’s place in a home is accompanied by live music. a Fri 9/28, 9 PM, Prop Thtr, south theater.
Pretty Good Artist Five contestants strive to create something out of nothing in this “reality performance event.” Applicants should e-mail a short paragraph saying why they should be chosen to firstname.lastname@example.org. a Sun 10/14, 10 AM, Prop Thtr, north theater.
Railroad Backward Kestutis Nakas’s play is about a Chicago man’s bizarre journey through frontier Illinois. Nakas creates a playful but puzzling journey that often wanders too far from a discernible path. Yet his handful of well-placed references to Vietnam and Iraq do create a sense of the United States’ robust history of ruthless profiteering. (JHa) a Sat 10/6 and 10/13, 3 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
Rock and Roll: Impatience The Lucky Pierre performance quartet swagger through every cliched rock ‘n’ roll posture–a kind of musical clip art–searching in vain for spontaneous, eternal bacchanalia. It’s a joyful and confounding evening. (JHa) a Fri-Sat 9/28-9/29, 9 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
Semeneau This “combination of prose and video monologues by various performers” marks Edward Salem’s debut performance in theater. a Through 9/27: Thu 9 PM, Prop Thtr, south theater.
Torvald and I and The Best of 365 Days: 3,000,000,000 Plays Torvald and I, Mark Chrisler’s take on Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, is “the best comedic post-feminist construction that 19th century realism can offer.” Also on the bill, Tim Racine seeks to better Suzan-Lori Parks’s “365 Days/365 Plays” project by about 10 million times. a 10/3-10/11: Wed 9 PM, Thu 7 PM, Prop Thtr, south theater.
Trash The politics of waste management is the subject of Matt Rieger’s play. a Through 10/24: Wed 7 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
Tsarovia! This program of short plays by New Orleans playwright R.J. Tsarov is performed by Simone Jubyna and Mike Driscoll. a Through 9/30: Sun 3 PM, Prop Thtr, south theater.
The Unauthorized “On the Road” The 50th anniversary of the publication of Jack Kerouac’s beat classic is marked with this “word jazz celebration” directed by Stefan Brun. a Through 9/30: Sat-Sun 7 PM, Prop Thtr, south theater.
Untitled Work in Progress Vicki Walden plans to use video clips and live actors in her piece. a 10/20-10/28: Sat-Sun 3 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
Wake Up, Apocalypse (Awake!) Greasy Joan & Co. touts its play as the “professional premiere” of one alluded to in Chekhov’s The Seagull, written by sweet, troubled young Konstantin Treplev. But it’s more of a tribute in which three actresses lament his passing, explore Chekhovian issues, dance, and recite passages from The Seagull along with a recipe. This montage generates some charm but is finally less interesting than the concept promises. (TA) a Through 10/14: Sun 7 PM, Athenaeum Theatre.
We Were the World Brian Torrey Scott directs this collaboratively written play combining structured plots with improv, “fear, comedy, teamwork, and live music.” a Through 9/29: Sat 11 PM, Prop Thtr, north theater.
Who’s Afraid of Affirmative Action? Varrick Douglas’s spoof of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? involves an African-American student invited to a professor’s house and offered a chance at a doctoral program. a Through 9/30: Fri 11 PM, Sun 3 PM, Prop Thtr, south theater.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Flat Danny.