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Grand Illusion

One can safely assert without hyperbole that Jean Renoir’s 1937 masterpiece about French and German officers during World War I is better than anything being presented by the Chicago International Film Festival. You might think you’ve already seen it, but a good print hasn’t been available since the 30s, so you might be in for […]

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Jane: Abortion and the Underground

Jane: Abortion and the Underground, Green Highway Theater, at the Chopin Theatre. Few issues elicit a greater emotional response than abortion rights. Here journalist and playwright Paula Kamen dramatizes the experiences of the Hyde Park women who responded to this issue by creating an underground abortion service that helped 11,000 Chicago women between 1969 and […]

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Cesaria Evora

CESARIA EVORA In the past decade, singer Cesaria Evora has concentrated almost exclusively on the national song form of her native Cape Verde Islands, morna–thought to be a hybrid of Portuguese fado, Brazilian modhina, and a local rhythm called lundum–but on her new Cafe Atlantico (RCA Victor) she channels a wider variety of the currents […]

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Side Man

Side Man, Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Engaging if somewhat slim and sometimes familiar, Warren Leight’s bitterly nostalgic drama about a talented jazz musician down on his luck is helped greatly in its Chicago premiere by Mark Wendland’s charming nightclub set and music director Joe Cerqua’s nuanced sound design. Partly a heartfelt elegy for the era just […]

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The Journal of Ordinary Thought

The Journal of Ordinary Thought, Chicago Theatre Company. Viewed up close, a mosaic is a collection of random fragments. Step back and the pieces blend to form a clear, vivid image. In The Journal of Ordinary Thought, the fragments are poems and bits of life stories: since 1991, Chicago’s South Side Neighborhood Writing Alliance has […]

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Movie Stars Live Here

If you saw only one show during the Cook County Theatre Department’s five-year stint in the South Loop, you wouldn’t have forgotten Vicki Walden, the driest, most sophisticated member of that dry, sophisticated troupe. She could hold an audience captive by staring deadpan for an hour or prattling on about nothing in particular–two things Cook […]

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Styles of Beyond

STYLES OF BEYOND Hip-hop’s persistence on the Billboard pop charts means it’s not just city kids spending money on the stuff: these days Master P is as much a mainstream icon as Mr. T was 15 years ago. Yet while the hip-hop nation has been incorporating the suburbs, the image of hip-hop artists has remained […]

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Never In My Lifetime

NEVER IN MY LIFETIME, Piven Theatre Workshop. If war is hell, civil war is doubly so: there are no identifying uniforms, clearly defined battle zones, or Geneva convention agreements to lend a semblance of organization to the bloodshed. A corpse might be packed with explosives to ambush compassionate comrades intent on burying their dead, an […]