Posted inMusic

Abrams/Barry/Dewar Trio

ABRAMS/BARRY/DEWAR TRIO The legendary set of 1957 recordings of Sonny Rollins at the Village Vanguard remains one of the genuine high-water marks in jazz history. Backed by Elvin Jones and Wilbur Ware, Rollins ripped bop conventions wide open, and the recordings inspired countless pianoless, freedom-seeking trios for decades to come. The Abrams/Barry/Dewar Trio is one […]

Posted inArts & Culture

In Print: the abominable Dr. Bettelheim

Richard Pollak, the New York-based journalist who has just published a biography of the late Bruno Bettelheim, only met his subject once. Pollak’s “backward” little brother, Stephen, had attended the University of Chicago’s Orthogenic School under Bettelheim before falling to his death from a barn loft while the brothers were playing hide-and-seek in 1948. Twenty-one […]

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Natural History

Camping With Henry and Tom Illinois Theatre Center By Carol Burbank There’s something innately theatrical about men and camping. Maybe it’s the macho intimacy brought about by nature. Maybe it’s just easier to believe men will talk with one another in the great outdoors, where no one else is likely to hear them. Whatever the […]

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Boppin’ With the Ancestors

Boppin’ With the Ancestors, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. Rob Penny, whose comedy Good Black recently won ETA Creative Arts Foundation’s “pick of the decade,” returns with a more complex play: two young gangbangers are challenged by the supernatural intervention of Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and an ancient African goddess. Penny’s themes–the […]

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Mad Shak Dance Company

To adapt a novel for dance, you have to distill and capture its essence–no easy task. Yet that’s what Mad Shak, a talented young company of six dancers and musicians, has attempted in the evening-length The Wanton Seed, based on the 1962 Anthony Burgess novel The Wanting Seed, set in a society of the near […]

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Bloody Deconstruction

Scream Rating *** A must see Directed by Wes Craven Written by Kevin Williamson With Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Skeet Ulrich, and Henry Winkler. By Bill Stamets The decay of culture is perhaps our most commonly cited fin de siecle cliche, and nearly everyone holds the entertainment industry at fault. In recent years horror directors […]

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“Master Harold”…and the Boys

“Master Harold”…And the boys, Excaliber Shakespeare Company, at the Heartland Studio Theater. Athol Fugard’s allegory of South Africa under apartheid is straightforward: a boy barely in his teens must decide whether his loyalties lie with his dissolute (white) parents or his saintly (black) parent surrogates, Sam and Willie, the managers of his mother’s tea shop. […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Ad Nausea at the Sun-Times

By Michael Miner Ad Nausea at the Sun-Times The horror of it! A page-one article with a reference to a retailer that didn’t advertise in the Sun-Times. An alert Sun-Times editor spotted the blunder between editions. The article was moved inside to page three, and the paragraph containing the offending sentence–“Crate & Barrel called its […]

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Divine Comedy

The Seagull Remy Bumppo Productions at Victory Gardens Theater By Justin Hayford What matters most is to break out of the rut. Everything else is unimportant. –Anton Chekhov Masha the dreary alcoholic and snuff addict marries Medvedyenko, a penniless schoolteacher who makes her skin crawl, in a vain attempt to strangle her love for Konstantine, […]

Posted inMusic

Men Overboard

Leon Parker Quartet Cyrus Chestnut Trio James Carter Quartet Orchestra Hall, January 10 By Peter Margasak When this country’s serious music establishment acknowledges jazz, which isn’t very often, the recognition is typically bestowed upon undeniable masters who in many cases are well past their prime. Alto saxophonist Benny Carter, for example, who is almost 90, […]

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Ice Cream and Hot Fudge

Ice cream and Hot Fudge, at Voltaire. Much as been scribbled about the differences between Britain and the United States, two nations divided, as G.B. Shaw once said, by a common language. But few have painted such a clear-eyed portrait of the darker sides of our respective national psyches as British playwright Caryl Churchill in […]

Posted inFilm

Subtle Subversions: Films by Peggy Ahwesh

Since cinema’s earliest years, filmmakers have been finding ways to question and sometimes undermine the illusions created by traditional fiction or documentary styles. In the face of this long history, Peggy Ahwesh nonetheless manages to make films and videos that are genuinely original. Martina’s Playhouse (1989) is one of the most disturbing videos I’ve ever […]

Posted inFilm

Love for Sale

Jerry Maguire Rating * Has redeeming facet Directed and written by Cameron Crowe With Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renee Zellweger, and Jonathan Lipnicki. Why are there so few films about advertising? It’s generally acknowledged that commercials are short films, and many directors–even some good ones, such as Ridley Scott–progress from shooting TV spots or […]