Deborah Maris Lader, director of Chicago Printmakers Collaborative experiences the unfamiliar with:

Behind the Beautiful Forevers I’m shipping off to northern India soon, so I’ve been immersed in educating myself about the region. Katherine Boo’s book, about the people who live in the slums abutting the Mumbai airport, is so well written and thoughtful about its characters that it reads like fiction, when in fact it’s a work of narrative nonfiction. Her simultaneously heartbreaking and entertaining stories of Mumbai’s scavengers, prostitutes, politicians, families, thieves, mothers, and merchants put a human face on the brutal reality of life there, while capturing their hopeful optimism for a better future. I’ve got stacks of books on India, and by far this is my favorite. It will be difficult to reconcile the fact that I will meet those with similar stories in the streets only to go back to a hotel with running water and privacy. Yikes.

Credit: Marshall Goff

Dorothy Milne, artistic director of Lifeline Theatre is sad to be missing:

The Encyclopedia Show The very next date I’m free, I’m going to check out the Encyclopedia Show, which plays the first Thursday of every month at Vittum Theater. Each show features fresh writing and art created on a specific topic. This month’s topic is “Yeast!” Why can’t I be there for that? I can’t believe I have to be at a tech rehearsal at Lifeline instead.

I am also a supergeek for the storytelling/live-lit form and am so glad that scene is having a resurgence in Chicago. I particularly love the new, inclusive, and hilarious twists on the form you can see at Write Club (which performs at the Hideout in Chicago and SPACE in Evanston) and Story Club (which performs at Holiday Club). For music I just step down Glenwood Avenue to Red Line Tap most any Tuesday to see one of my fave Chicago bands: the Mudflapps. And I’ll also go see the Sons of Susan wherever I can find them.

Credit: Mark Colomb

TJ Jagodowski, comedian and one half of the improv duo TJ and Dave releases his inhibitions at:

Upstairs Gallery There seems to be a very cool thing happening among Chicago’s improvisors and solo performers right now. There is a supportive and pleasantly dangerous sensibility in action. The folks doing it speak of the Upstairs Gallery as a kind and creative home for it. A “create without judgement” feel that the Annoyance fostered and preserved seems to be as alive as it’s ever been there. The really interesting thing is that when you ask performers what makes them feel that way, not a one can put their finger on why exactly. This semidefinable and semi-inexplicable quality feels to me to describe some really cool things.