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Posted inArts & Culture

The Day the Arts Stood Still

This deft showcase of selections from the Illegitimate Players’ wicked parodies is comedy with a conscience. Using their spoofs of Tennessee Williams (The Glass Mendacity), Steinbeck (Of Grapes and Nuts), Dickens (A Christmas Twist), and their recent Wisconsin bit, Cheese Louise, they erect a bulwark from which to defend government funding for the arts. But […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Manhattan by Numbers

The surprising thing about the first English-language feature (1993) of Iranian filmmaker Amir Naderi (The Runner, Water, Wind, Sand) is that it has nothing at all to do with Iran or Iranians. Rather, it tells the story of a laid-off American newspaperman (John Wojda), separated from his wife and child and at the end of […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Dr. Faustus

Though it’s often produced as a lavish spectacle displaying an overreacher’s doom, when Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus began life, 402 years ago, it was primarily a two-man show: Marlowe stressed the incendiary message over the traditional infernal fireworks. (For his better-known full-blown version, he supplied the usual hellish trappings.) Returning Faustus […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Ellen Universe Joins the Band

Equity Library Theatre Chicago, at Chicago Dramatists Workshop. This has all the fixings of a real play: characters, dialogue, a story (more or less), even lots of death imagery–ghosts, clocks, caterpillars turning into butterflies–so that we former English majors can troll for deeper meanings. The only thing this play lacks is the spark of life, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Closing doors: Can women progress in the building trades without affirmative action?/Return of the CTA pass

Cheryl Purnell was hauling lumber and hammering nails at a west-side work site last month when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a white-owned construction company in Colorado had been unconstitutionally denied a federal subcontract by affirmative action. Conservative Republicans hailed the ruling as a step away from “reverse discrimination” and a step toward the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Field & Street

I have been trying for the past several weeks to get a good look at a yellow-billed cuckoo, so far without success. I have heard its call many times, but always from thickets so dense I couldn’t locate the bird. If I had had unlimited time to search I’m sure I could have spotted several, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Five with Six Live

Combining savvy marketing with an interesting concept, Chicago’s Atavistic label presents a showcase of solo guitarists. Lee Ranaldo, Elliott Sharp, Bruce Anderson, Rick Rizzo, and Steve Wynn come from disparate musical backgrounds, and their approaches to playing guitar vary significantly, but Atavistic’s put them all on the same stage. Ranaldo, of course, is a charter […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Grant Park Symphony Orchestra

One of the world’s most versatile clarinetists for over two decades, Richard Stoltzman is finally breaking into the ranks of true celebrity. Last year one of his CDs, Concerto!, won a Grammy nomination, and a TV special featuring him playing works by Bernstein and Gershwin received an Emmy. Another CD, Dreams, furthered his appeal as […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Hardship Post

Although Hardship Post’s stock-in-trade is pop music, you won’t find any sweeping melodies, rousing choruses, or lush arrangements on their recently released debut LP, Somebody Spoke (Sub Pop). Instead the trio’s songs display a punchy, no-frills guitar-bass-drums attack and a fondness for brittle, bittersweet melodies that recalls the early work of new wavers like Elvis […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Private Meanings

David Russick: New Works at Carl Hammer Gallery, through July 22 Andean Paintings at Fourth World Artisans, through July 23 David Russick’s somewhat cerebral art dwells at the intersection of his sparse, often puzzling imagery, the explanations one imagines for it, and the explanations he himself provides (if one knows them). There’s little of the […]