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Women in Improv

Late on a Friday afternoon in the Annoyance Theatre’s grungy brick- lined storefront performance space, Susan Messing is working with a dozen improvisation students on character-development exercises. The next step, she announces, is to develop scenes using similar techniques. “Do you want us to use the same characters we did before?” a student asks. “Sure,” […]

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Restaurant Tours: cafe de Rudi

The coffeehouse tradition goes back to 1672, when an Armenian named Pascal opened a coffee stall at the Saint-Germain Fair in Paris. He called it a “cafe.” Gradually cafes became hangouts and began to offer food and wine. But these days in Paris–if not in Chicago–cafes are dying out, and chic wine bars where Parisians […]

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King Kong

While so much contemporary pop is burdoned with meaninglessness, the Louisville-based quintet King Kong harks back to rock’s roots as inconsequential, diversionary fun. On Funny Farm, the band’s recent release on Chicago indie label Drag City, King Kong creates droll, way funky/garage rock with cartoonish melodies and cheesy organ trills, music that alternately recalls the […]

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Kabuki Medea/Medea/Cyclops

KABUKI MEDEA Wisdom Bridge Theatre MEDEA and CYCLOPS Razor’s Edge at Cafe Voltaire It’s been a banner year for Greece’s most infamous mom. More or less traditional productions of Euripides’ tragedy have played the Blue Rider Theatre (from Nature of the Beast), the Leo Lerner Theatre (Black Ensemble), and Greenview Arts Center (Palookaville). Now come […]

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Salem. This Land Is.

SALEM. THIS LAND IS. Disillusion Theater Project at the Chicago Actors Ensemble The Disillusion Theater Project is a very young ensemble, and not without talent. A dab of self-righteousness and a touch of naivete do not destroy their work, luckily, but they do color it from time to time, a reminder of the company’s youth. […]

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Chris Knox

Chris Knox is the grand old man of New Zealand’s independent music scene. In the late 70s, he sang in Toy Love, the kiwi counterpart of the Sex Pistols, and as half of the Tall Dwarfs (since 1982) he has pioneered a low-tech recording aesthetic that still distinguishes the antipodean underground. He also engineered the […]

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Alejandro Scarpino

It’s worth pointing out that the nuevo tango of the late Astor Piazzolla, who expanded the Argentine tango into something that totally transcends its origins (much as Johann Strauss did for the 19th-century Viennese waltz) is heard more often in the U.S. these days than the traditional idiom originated by the gauchos of the Argentine […]

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Reader to Reader

Scene: The corner of Division and Cleveland. Characters: Kevin Adair, a biker, and a respectable-looking white-haired woman of about 70. She has beckoned him over. Woman: Hi…Can you…can you give me a ride? Adair: On the bike? Woman: Uh-huh. Could you take me out of here? Adair: Where do you want to go? Woman: Oh, […]

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Monk’s Dream

In their Chicago Jazz Fest appearance last month, this unusual trio proved that with an imaginative concept and highwire virtuosity, you can break a lot of rules and make it come out right. Monk’s Dream features the relatively odd combination of piano and organ–played by Mike Kocour and Steve Million, respectively–and concentrates on the 70 […]

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Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

At age 250, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra is one of the world’s oldest musical institutions. Founded by Leipzig’s town fathers as their answer to court entertainment–and originally housed in a merchants’ exhibition hall called the Gewandhaus–the orchestra has been a source of immense civic pride, even when the city was part of communist East Germany. […]

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Sight Unseen

SIGHT UNSEEN National Jewish Theater Donald Margulies’s Sight Unseen requires audience participation, and viewers will get as much out of it as they’re willing to put in. Margulies, whose treatment of middle-class Jewish values in The Loman Family Picnic was less than subtle, has created a work of astonishing depth and intelligence. Getting caught up […]

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Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer

Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer’s Bare-Bones Circus is just that: a kind of minimalist carnival devised and performed by two people inside a “ring” that’s really a rope lying in a circle on the floor. Together the pair dance, talk, embrace, play–all the ordinary things people do for fun–and yet they somehow make it into […]

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Historical Riches

To the editors: Kudos to Mary Bordelon and Ruby Harris (“The Plot to Destroy North Kenwood,” October 15)! Every time I visit my grandfather’s house at 51st and Michigan, I marvel at the few once-grand mansions that are miraculously still standing though not in all of their old glory. There is one in particular that […]