Posted inArts & Culture

Familiar Faces

Lips Together, Teeth Apart Circle Theatre By Adam Langer One of the most common and irritating forms of criticism today is revealed in such remarks as “We’ve seen this before” or “It’s been done already.” An abundance of literature has made possible a never-ending game of comparison to earlier plays or books. American family dramas […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Playing Make-Believe

Pleasant T. Rowland was frustrated. Shopping for a gift for a niece, she was dismayed by the neon frenzy and hype of Barbie dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids. In 1986, Rowland, a former schoolteacher and TV reporter, fought back. She founded the Pleasant Company in Middleton, Wisconsin, to produce a line of historical novels and […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Chicks, CollaborAction Theatre Company, at Stage Left Theatre. In Grace McKeaney’s depressing universe, kindergartners are well acquainted with the world’s harsh imperfections. Knowing this, their teacher in this one-woman show tries to efface her own problems–which include loneliness, caring for a father gradually slipping into Alzheimer’s, loneliness, and the fear that she’s wasting her life–in […]

Posted inFilm

Lives of Performers

Of all Yvonne Rainer’s films, this 1972 first feature most clearly bridges her formidable career as an avant-garde dancer and choreographer and her subsequent work as an experimental filmmaker. Its 14 fiction and nonfiction episodes chronicle and/or comment on Rainer’s performances, using sound and intertitles in various inventive and unorthodox ways and concentrating on issues […]

Posted inArts & Culture

All Coons Look Alike To Me

All Coons Look Alike To Me, Oui Be Negroes, at Live Bait Theater. This production isn’t as offensive as its title might suggest. Inspired by the lyrics to a popular turn-of-the-century song (mocked to great comic effect in a vaudeville routine at the show’s beginning), All Coons Look Alike to Me cleverly deconstructs the evolution–or […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Lynching of Leo Frank

The Lynching Of Leo Frank, Pegasus Players. The gruesome case of Leo Frank is so fraught with political and social import that it would be hard to imagine any sort of dramatic treatment being dull. Nevertheless Robert Myers comes perilously close in his dutifully researched but leaden play. Here the 1915 lynching in Atlanta of […]

Posted inNews & Politics

City File

Yeah, but did Saint Jerome ever bat .400? “Shared memories hold us together as families, as baseball fans, as Catholics,” writes Cathy O’Connell-Cahill in U.S. Catholic (November). “Our history of Catholic heroes and heroines–saints, I mean–is much more fascinating and a lot longer than the history of major-league baseball, but while baseball makes better and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s 1930 opera–an expansion of their first collaboration, the 1927 Mahagonny-Songspiel–was inspired by hedonistic, politically unstable Weimer Berlin. But their mythic metropolis Mahagonny, where men are made slaves to their carnal appetites in the name of individual freedom and where the only capital crime is not having money to pay for […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

When I watch a movie on television or videotape, there is sometimes a statement that this movie has been formatted to fit my screen. My question is, how do they know what size my screen is? –JHahnUSNR, via AOL They don’t know, chum. They don’t have to know. But they know the proportions of your […]

Posted inMusic

Chicago Sinfonietta with Orbert Davis

CHICAGO SINFONIETTA WITH ORBERT DAVIS Classical composers have raided jazz for inspiration for generations, even as innovative scores by the likes of Duke Ellington and Miles Davis have been largely overlooked in snobbish classical circles–where to be “serious,” music has to be written by pedigreed composers, premiered in established orchestral venues, and performed by conservatory […]