“Sex is sex,” says Martha Roth, professor of Assyriology at the University of Chicago. “It doesn’t change much over the millennia. What changes is how society accommodates it.” In today’s free lecture, Marriage, Divorce, and the Prostitute, she’ll examine the social role of prostitution in ancient Mesopotamia. “It was not viewed with any moral overtones,” she explains. “That’s a very modern, Christian notion.” But problems did erupt when a prostitute had a child and “presented a threat to normal lines of inheritance.” Roth will discuss legal cases in which families tried to break up alliances between their sons and practitioners of the oldest profession at 12:15 at the U. of C.’s Center for Gender Studies, 5733 S. University, Chicago, 773-702-9936. Bring your own lunch.
Apparently Twelve Angry Men, Reginald Rose’s 1954 drama about a death penalty case and the jury system, has new local currency now that Illinois is at the center of the death penalty debate: when Wheaton Drama, a 70-year-old all-volunteer community theater, announced auditions for the play’s dozen male roles, 66 actors showed up. Director Randall Knott says besides the hot topic, “it’s a real guys’ play, and a fantastic ensemble piece. Everyone’s onstage the entire show, and they each get a great moment.” Wheaton is using a theatrical adaptation of Rose’s script, which was originally written for television and then expanded for the 1957 Sidney Lumet film. It opens at 8 tonight and continues at 8 Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 on Sundays through March 9 at Playhouse 111 (the company’s theater), 111 N. Hale in Wheaton. Tickets are $13; call 630-260-1820.
Over 80 local organizations, ranging from the American Friends Service Committee to Weekly News Pakistan, are sponsoring today’s antiwar march–Chicago’s contribution to the international day of protest against war on Iraq. In addition to mobilizing opposition to the war, the event’s designed to protest and publicize the February 21 deadline imposed by the INS for the registration and fingerprinting of males over 16 from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. (December registrations of visiting nationals of several other Arab countries led to the detention of hundreds of men and boys in Los Angeles, spawning huge protests and a subsequent class action lawsuit.) The Chicago march starts at noon at Devon and Leavitt and will head west through the heart of the Pakistani community to Washtenaw. For more information call 888-471-0874 or 312-641-5151.
“If corporations own the memories we use to make art, then how can we work anymore? Who owns the language?” These were two of the questions NYC-based artist, writer, and musician Paul D. Miller, better known as DJ Spooky, posed to a group of Harvard students in 1998, adding, “I use samples to speak, someone else might use painting. It’s the classic example of how art can be controlled by economics. It’s all about access.” Miller will address these and other thorny questions of corporate ownership and copyright law when he participates in today’s free Public Square-sponsored debate, Who Owns Ideas? Intellectual Property Rights and Wrongs, an event staged in conjunction with the traveling exhibit “Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age.” Other participants include law professor and Stanford Center for Internet and Society founder Lawrence Lessig, National Writers Union president Jonathan Tasini, and Future of Music Coalition director Jenny Toomey. Moderated by WBEZ’s Gretchen Helfrich, the debate runs from 6 to 8 PM at the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark, Chicago. To reserve a seat call 312-799-2284. “Illegal Art” runs through February 21 at the offices of In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee (773-772-0100). Miller also appears earlier today, along with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and trombonist, composer, and electronic-music improviser George Lewis, as part of a symposium titled “Cyber Rhythms: The Music and the Message.” It’s from 3 to 5 in the West Pavilion of the Museum of Science and Industry, 57th and S. Lake Shore Dr. in Chicago, and is free with museum admission ($9, $7.50 for seniors, $5 for kids). Call 773-684-1414 or see www.msichicago.org for more.
“What does it mean to be an American?” is the first line of the second act of Lee Blessing’s 1989 play Two Rooms, about an American University professor taken hostage in Beirut and his wife’s attempts to cope with the situation back home. “That’s exactly the kind of question we need to ask right now,” says the American Theater Company’s Damon Kiely, who took over as artistic director November 1 and plans a return to the group’s original mission of producing only American plays and stories. The question also informs the company’s new dialogue series, “American Voices,” which kicks off following today’s matinee performance of the play when retired Tribune theater critic Richard Christiansen interviews the playwright. (The next installment coincides with the spring run of Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape.) The play starts at 3 at 1909 W. Byron, Chicago, and the discussion begins at 5:30. Tickets are $40; $20 for just the play or discussion. For more information call 773-929-1031 or visit www.atcweb.org.
In 1975, Heidi Bub, the child of a Vietnamese woman and an American serviceman, was sent to the U.S. by her mother as part of Operation Babylift–the Ford administration’s end-of-the-war effort to give the abandoned kids of GIs a shot at a better life–and raised by an adoptive mother in Tennessee. The 2002 documentary Daughter From Danang, by Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco, traces her emotionally charged reunion with her birth mother after a 22-year separation, which turned painful when mother asked daughter for money. Though it’s traditional in Vietnam for children to care for their elderly parents, the young woman was horrified–and showed it. After seeing the final cut of the film, which won the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, Heidi told the directors, “I think you made a really good film….I just wish it wasn’t about me.” It’ll be shown tonight at 7 and 9 at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, Chicago. Tickets are $7; call 773-281-4114 or see the Movie listings for additional showtimes.
After years of formal composition studies, and another decade or two devoted to the world-jazz fusion he plays with his quintet, Flippomusic, Skokie resident Dave Flippo has come around to something resembling the standards. When the Dave Flippo Duo takes the stage tonight at Pops Highwood, Flippo (who also performs with poetry slammer Marc Smith in Pong Unit) will handle vocals and piano, while Donn DeSanto mans the bass. Expect “Ellington-style” originals, Flippo’s take on the theme from Spider-Man, and a version of Chopin’s Prelude no. 4 with a new bridge…and lyrics. Pops, at 214 Green Bay Rd. in Highwood, has dropped its weeknight cover charge at the bar for the rest of the winter. The music runs from 8:30 to 11:30–call 847-266-1313.
Tonight at 7, Facets will screen Chicago filmmaker David C. Thomas’s 2002 film MC5: A True Testimonial. The exhaustive documentary on the rise and fall of the legendary Detroit rockers premiered last August at the Chicago Underground Film Festival but still doesn’t have a distributor. Tickets are $5 and go on sale a half hour before the show at 1517 W. Fullerton in Chicago (773-281-4114).
The live bands that play the Underground Lounge’s weekly Rock ‘n’ Roll Karaoke night collectively know nearly 200 songs, organizers claim, ranging from Black Sabbath to Nena to the Stooges. Tonight’s band is the Hootenanners, who also cover Bob Seger, Poison, the Pixies, Aretha Franklin, Toni Basil, and lots more. It starts at 9 every Wednesday at 952 W. Newport, Chicago (773-327-2739). There’s a $5 cover, and you must be 21. For other times and locations visit livebandkaraoke.tripod.com.
The University of Chicago med students who planned tonight’s free Health Care for All debate would like to remind us that every other industrialized western nation offers health care to its citizens–and at a fraction of what we in the U.S. spend on it per capita. Tonight’s event pits Dr. Quentin Young, professor at the University of Illinois Medical Center and national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Care Program (an organization of 10,000 doctors advocating for single-payer national health insurance) against U. of C. law professor Richard Epstein, who’s a senior fellow at the medical school’s Center for Clinical Medical Ethics and author of Mortal Peril: Our Inalienable Right to Health Care?, in which he argues for less government control, not more. The debate’s tonight from 5:30 to 8 at the Donnelley Biological Sciences Learning Center, 924 E. 57th, Chicago. Call 773-255-6284.