The Rhinoceros Theater Festival

Founded as a component of the Bucktown Arts Fest but now independent of that event, this annual summer showcase of fringe theater, performance, and music has relocated farther north over the past few years. This year’s edition, which runs through September 23, is housed at the Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln, and the Famous Door Theatre Company, Jane Addams Center Hull House, 3212 N. Broadway. Directed this year by Beau O’Reilly, the event takes its name from surrealist painter Salvador Dali’s use of the term “rhinocerontic” (it means real big); more than 20 companies and individual artists are featured, among them Famous Door, the Curious Theatre Branch, Retro Theatre, Theater Oobleck, Betty’s Mouth, Ler Noot Fiesta, Studio 108, David Hauptschein, Terri Kapsalis, Frank Melcori, Julie Laffin, David Kodeski, Warren Leming’s Cold Chicago Dance Theater, and Cleveland’s New World Performance Laboratory.

Rhino Fest tickets cost $7 per program or $10 for any two programs, except for special events whose prices are noted in the listings. For reservations and information, call 327-6666 for shows at Lunar Cabaret or 409-3884 for shows at Famous Door.

The Reader lists festival schedules (which are subject to last-minute change) on a week-by-week basis; following is the schedule for August 29 through September 5.


David Kodeski’s True Life Tales: Doris

In this one-man show, Kodeski recounts the long life of a minister’s wife, based on anecdotes he gleaned from interviews with the woman (who now lives in a local retirement home). “Performing in a style that’s the very antithesis of drag–sans wig, falsetto, and stereotyped feminine gestures–Kodeski is nevertheless remarkably affecting,” says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

Me, Me, Me, Me, Me!

Todd Petersen plays multiple characters in his one-man play about “a gay man’s struggle to become ‘boss of his own world.’ ” Patrick New directs. Famous Door, 8 PM. (See review elsewhere in this section.)


Kingerera Great

Peter Handler wrote this “absurdist hostage drama” about a “marginally-employed” young man who kidnaps a homeless person in order to have a playmate for the afternoon. Joe Dempsey directs a world premiere. Famous Door,

7 PM.

Hyperbolic Gangland

The Curious Theatre Branch presents Bryn Magnus’s collection of “dreamscape examinations of pop-life violence and its real-live effects.” Jenny Magnus directs. “The two very short one-acts that make up the first part of Hyperbolic Gangland are . . . carefully written, . . . gracefully directed, . . . and finely acted. . . . Unfortunately, the last third . . . needs much more work before it’s fit for public consumption,” says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

The Increased Difficulty of Concentration

Maureen Ryan directs Vaclav Havel’s absurdist farce about an intellectual being driven mad by sexual and political complications. “What makes [the] play more than just another witty satire about a bankrupt social system is the work’s extraordinary cubist structure. . . . A mind-bending way to tell a story, but it makes perfectly clear the unnatural world Havel’s characters inhabit. . . . Ryan’s production more or less successfully re-creates Havel’s crazy universe,” says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Famous Door, 9 PM.

Lip Trips & Jello

Cin Salach and Sheila Donahue, aka Betty’s Mouth, perform an evening of a cappella rhythm poetry. Lunar Cabaret, 10 PM.


A Theory of Chaos

Warren Leming directs Cold Chicago Dance Theater in this theatrical study of the life and ideas of the German philosopher Walter Benjamin. Reader critic Jack Helbig says that “this hour-long exercise in not very gracefully executed dance theater [is] baffling.” Famous Door, 7 PM.

Inner Life

Stories by Wisconsin writer Angela Woodward, from her collection The Book of Odeon, are brought to the stage by the Curious Theatre Branch. Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM. (See review elsewhere in this section.)

The Increased Difficulty of Concentration

See listing for Friday, August 30. Famous Door, 9 PM.

The History of Theatre Theater (sic) in America

Danny Thompson and an array of inanimate objects plan to “play with the history of a great institution as if it were a dead mouse” in this Theater Oobleck presentation, a follow-up to last year’s Big-Tooth High-Tech Megatron vs. the Sockpuppet of Procrastination. This “roughly performed, occasionally witty solo show [contains] sometimes inspired silliness [but] would have been twice as nice at half the length,” says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Lunar Cabaret, 10 PM.


A Theory of Chaos

See listing for Saturday, August 31. Famous Door, 3 PM.

The Increased Difficulty of Concentration

See listing for Friday, August 30. Famous Door, 7 PM.

Inner Life

See listing for Saturday, August 31. Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.


Hyperbolic Gangland

See listing for Friday, August 30. Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

Grandmother in Four Acts, The Dusky Woman, and Excuse Me, What Are You?

This program features three solo performances. The first, by Donna Jay Fulks, concerns “the realization of death and the fact that I’m stuck in my stupid family,” says the artist. In the second, Judith Greer performs her Connected Poems and new works. The third piece is a multimedia solo performance by director-writer Lisa Wax (created in collaboration with Achy Obejas and Kurt Heintz) that explores “how race and culture are constructed and perceived.” Famous Door, 8 PM.


Ler Noot Fiesta

This “jazz-thrash duo,” consisting of Mark Comiskey and Colm O’Reilly, headlines an evening of performance with guest artists from other fields. Tonight’s show features Jenny Magnus; next week’s guest is Diane Izzo. Lunar Cabaret, 9 PM.


Inner Life

See listing for Saturday, August 31. Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

Bobo’s Revenge

This “circus-noir” play by Paul C. Foster, about a detective investigating the serial killings of clowns, explores themes of violence and laughter. It’s offered by Faboo! Productions. “Bobo’s Revenge, with an intricate plot and nearly two hours of dialogue dense with allusions, . . . is sometimes obscured by its slapdash clutter, but there’s no denying the intelligence and compassion beneath the surface silliness,” said Reader critic Mary Shen Barnidge when she reviewed the show’s premiere earlier this year. Famous Door, 8 PM.

I Am a Fool

Studio 108 presents Mike Vieau in his adaptation of Sherwood Anderson’s short story about a Depression-era horse trainer ruined by his own good intentions. Lunar Cabaret, 9 PM. (See review elsewhere in this section.)


David Kodeski’s True Life Tales: Doris

See listing for Thursday, August 29. Lunar Cabaret, 8 PM.

An Evening at the Caffe Cino III

The Retro Theatre Company performs two short plays by writers associated with the landmark off-off-Broadway theater of the 60s: Robert Patrick’s Camera Obscura and John Guare’s A Day for Surprises. Also on the bill is a new work by Retro member Sara Reily, My Sister’s Waltz, about the complex relationships of three sisters. Famous Door, 8 PM. (See review elsewhere in this section.)

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo from Lip Trips & Jello.