Posted inArts & Culture

Karen Finley

I’ve never felt comfortable watching Karen Finley. Her act is just too angry, her performance style too raw, to be watched dispassionately. But I think that’s her point: to speak the unspeakable, to find words and gestures to make the seething emotions just below the surface audible, visible, and absolutely unavoidable. In 1989’s We Keep […]

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Eat Your Art Out

EAT YOUR ART OUT Nomenil at Cafe Voltaire Few theater companies in Chicago fail as marvelously as Nomenil. Instead of offering yet another rehashing of an American classic or a moth-eaten musical comedy (in other words, the stuff everyone did in college) in a city already knee-deep in theatrical nostalgia, Nomenil creates original extravaganzas that […]

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Nice are an Australian trio with a low profile and a high level of artistry. Led by Randall Lee and Susannah Stuart-Lindsay, they’ve inherited the Australian songwriting throne vacated by the late, lamented Go-Betweens, who delivered some of the most literate and well-crafted songs of the 80s. Nice display a similarly lean low-key lyricism on […]

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, Footsteps Theatre Company. Playing off one of the great ironies of Western theater–that all those great female roles Shakespeare created were written for men who specialized in playing women–this all-female version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream works surprisingly well. Not because the premise is novel; at Footsteps all-female versions of Shakespeare […]

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Your Eyes My Hands

YOUR EYES MY HANDS, Blue Rider Theatre. When a young man’s girlfriend breaks their date, he drives to her house in such a fury that he crashes the car. Later they consider the destructive patterns of their relationship. A typical lovers’ spat, right? Yes, except that the young man is deaf, the result of a […]

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Elementary Phrases

Anyone familiar with Stan Brakhage’s highly personal films of the last 40 years will be surprised by the credits of the new Elementary Phrases: by Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon. Colleagues at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the two began with strips of film Brakhage had painted on by hand, photographing them frame by […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Reader to Reader

A 60-ish man wearing a yellow vest bearing the name of some charity stood on the sidewalk outside the Oak Park Starbucks and gestured with a donation can to the dozens of passersby. For ten minutes no one contributed. A young woman shouldering a padded camera bag approached and struck up a brief conversation. The […]

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Fashion Statements: catch of the day

We met Roxanne Castillo, eight, fishtailing her way through the schools of schoolchildren in front of the Shedd Aquarium. Her breezy sundress and hyperactive running shoes shouted “Let’s play!,” seemingly straining the limits of the “appropriate dress required” commandment permafixed to Shedd’s marble facade. Was Roxanne’s carefree costume a fish out of water? Our fashion […]

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Quintet of the Americas

Founded in 1976 in Bogota, Colombia, but now based in New York, the Quintet of the Americas specializes in folk and contemporary music of the Western Hemisphere arranged for woodwinds. The group has established a reputation for commissioning work by Latin American composers and often including the music of displaced people, from Sephardic Jews to […]

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The Seventh Continent

A powerful, provocative, and highly disturbing Austrian film by Michael Haneke that focuses on the collective suicide of a young and seemingly “normal” family (1989). Prompted by Austria’s high suicide rate and various news stories, the film’s agenda is not immediately apparent; it focuses at first on the family’s highly repetitive life-style, taking its time […]

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Gold Coast Chamber Ensemble

The connection between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and 19th-century German architect and theater designer Karl Friedrich Schinkel is tenuous–Schinkel came up with a striking set for an 1816 production of The Magic Flute–but it’s close enough to provide an excuse for an afternoon of music from Mozart’s four key operas followed by a tour through an […]

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Shadow Vignettes With James Newton

Where to start with this one? Perhaps with James Newton, who has established himself as modern jazz’s preeminent flutist without sacrificing his talent for performing classical music (both new and old). Newton has incorporated the innovations of Eric Dolphy–who played the flute with an unprecedented emotional forcefulness–into a style that boasts flawless technique and improvisational […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

SUGAR 11/4, ARAGON Sugar’s new album File Under: Easy Listening (Rykodisc) proves that Bob Mould’s songwriting ability is as hook-strong as ever. But his band is still remarkably one-dimensional. “Company Book,” the one song not written by Mould (credit goes to bassist David Barbe), fits seamlessly into the leader’s formula: loud but highly processed guitars […]