Posted inArts & Culture

Racing Demon

RACING DEMON, Organic Touchstone Company, at Touchstone Theatre. The newly merged Organic Touchstone Company is off to a superb start with this production of David Hare’s thoughtful, touching, wryly humorous play. Like a cross between a Susan Howatch novel of Anglican angst and a sardonic Evelyn Waugh social satire, Hare’s drama examines moral wrangling and […]

Posted inNews & Politics

City File

Ya gotta have art. From a recent press release from the School of the Art Institute: “In his sculptural installation, Stephen Schofield transforms cloth membranes into crystallized mattresses by soaking them in boiling syrup and inflating them using vacuum cleaners whose air flow has been reversed.” Women not welcome here. Sandra Namath tells Jane Easter […]

Posted inMusic

Stepan Rak

STEPAN RAK Czech guitarist Stepan Rak is the sort of player that regularly achieves the impossible on his instrument, making things like contrary motion, autonomous simultaneous rhythms, and two-string tremolos seem as easy as barre chords. He’s also a double threat–a player and, since the late 60s, a composer. The 51-year-old resident of Prague has […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Life Support Systems

Emma’s Child Victory Gardens Theater By Carol Burbank Kristine Thatcher is perhaps best known in Chicago as an actress, appearing most recently in the Goodman’s Arcadia and in the long-running Three Hotels. But she’s written a witty and sentimental play in Emma’s Child, asking many provocative questions about adoption among other subjects: what if the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

After much inquiry and research I have reached a dead end as to how to get my home phone number taken off all telemarketing and tele-fund-raising call lists, locally and nationally. Even after I tell callers who want donations for local causes to stop calling me, the calls persist–and seem to multiply! I’ve searched for […]

Posted inFilm

For the Sake of Haniye

This 1995 Iranian film, directed by former film critic Kiumars Poorahmad, goes in several different stylistic directions at once but nonetheless is an effective tale of small-town intolerance and a boy’s courage. Olov, the captain of a fishing boat in the village of Tangak, is the only survivor of a storm, which is shown not […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Elephant Man

THE ELEPHANT MAN, Merattic Theatre Company, at Chicago Dramatists Workshop. In only 80 minutes playwright Bernard Pomerance turns a penny-dreadful plot–the short, cruel, crowded life of John Merrick, a severely disfigured “elephant man”–into an exploration of our humanity. The ultimate outsider, Merrick is a mirror reflecting the worth of those who see his value. Where […]

Posted inMusic

Tom Varner

TOM VARNER You can count on one hand the number of French horn players who have distinguished themselves in jazz, but Tom Varner has more to offer than extra points in a trivia contest. For starters, Varner improvises with enough flexibility, imagination, and timbral variety to make you wonder why more French hornists haven’t attempted […]

Posted inNews & Politics

WVON Won’t Take the Bait/Meigs and the Dailies: The Long View

By Michael Miner WVON Won’t Take the Bait Last year black ad man Lowell Thompson reached into his pocket and published a book called “White Folks”, his take on “the debilitating mental disease that afflicts ‘white’ America’s leaders whenever they are confronted with racial issues.” After a second dip into the same pocket, the paperback […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Winifred Haun & Dancers

Winifred Haun, whose daughter Athena is now six months old, calls one of her new pieces “the baby dance.” But that’s not its official name (it didn’t have one when I saw a rehearsal), and characteristically she describes it as not about babies at all: it’s an abstract suite based on four very roughly connected […]