Posted inArts & Culture

The Great Gatsby

THE GREAT GATSBY There hasn’t been a great American opera yet, though good cases have been made for Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts, Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, and Philip Glass’s Satyagraha. John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby isn’t it, either, despite the fact that Harbison borrows his narrative from a great American […]

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INSOMNIACTS, Dramatist Revolutionary Army, at the Chopin Theatre. Most playwrights, I suspect, have a play like Insomniacts hidden away somewhere–an earnest, deadly serious, not particularly well written play that communicates volumes about the playwright’s desire to say something profound and not much else. Chekhov envisions just this kind of work in the god-awful “play of […]

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Pluramon, Kid-606

PLURAMON, KID-606 Pluramon, aka German sound artist Marcus Schmickler, is no one-click pony. Under the monikers Wabi Sabi and Sator Rotas and as a member of the abstract electronics orchestra Mimeo, he’s established himself as a laptop auteur with sweeping range. On the recent Sator Rotas (A-Musik), for instance, he organized swirls, gurgles, and clouds […]

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A Bright Room Called Day

A Bright Room Called Day, Blindfaith Theatre, at the Strawdog Theatre Company. Tony Kushner’s most overwritten play merely hints at the knack for surrealist storytelling so brilliantly apparent in Angels in America. Here he tries to shove 50 pounds of assorted Marxist agitprop into a 10-pound bag fashioned from recycled history lessons, dreamscapes, and ACT-UP […]

Posted inNews & Politics


OCTOBER 6 FRIDAY A New York midwifery practice, a Texas grassroots housing initiative for migrant farm workers, a Navajo Nation program that promotes traditional sheepherding and weaving practices, and the Southwest Youth Collaborative in Englewood are among the dozen community enterprises examined through photos and interviews in the exhibit Indivisible: Stories of American Community, which […]

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It seems every performer passes through LA–the desire to hit it big is just too great. Even edgy, alternative artists go there, hoping to pull an Eric Bogosian or a John Leguizamo and earn big showbiz bucks. Of course they expect to keep their integrity, but it’s a hard act to pull off. Hundreds fail […]

Posted inMusic

Subtle Charms

Subtle Charms In August 1999–a month before her band Town and Country was set to record an album for Thrill Jockey–bassist Liz Payne severed the end of her right index finger and shattered the end of her middle one with a table saw. Doctors were able to reconstruct her digits, but they expected her rehabilitation […]

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Cerqua Rivera Art Experience

Wilfredo Rivera’s extroverted choreography is the perfect match for the 13-piece jazz band directed by his partner, Joe Cerqua, a composer, musician, and singer. The two halves of Rivera’s Summertime Suite reveal two sides of his passionate nature: first Carol Loverde sings a soaring, piercing a cappella version of the George Gershwin classic “Summertime,” reflected […]

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The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw, City Lit Theater Company and Genesius Theatre Company. Jeffrey Hatcher’s curious retelling of Henry James’s ghost story epitomizes the problem with adapting complex works of literature to the stage: great stories and novels don’t always make for great, even good theater. Were Hatcher to go back and heighten the camp […]

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“Master Harold”…And the Boys

“MASTER HAROLD”…AND THE BOYS, Journeymen, at the Chicago Cultural Center. The end of apartheid hasn’t diminished this play. Though Athol Fugard expertly shows how the personal is political, his 90-minute wonder also works as domestic tragedy. Despite some delightful dialogue about ballroom dancing (“a world without collisions”) and famous social reformers, the plot is brutally […]

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Richard Leo Johnson

RICHARD LEO JOHNSON Twelve-string guitar master Richard Leo Johnson sounds like the unlikely offspring of Leo Kottke and Django Reinhardt, but he was virtually unknown until last year, when he released an album of unaccompanied guitar called Fingertip Ship (Metro Blue). And even after the disc came out, Johnson could’ve been a candidate for one […]

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E.A. Poe: The Fever Called Living

E.A. POE: THE FEVER CALLED LIVING, Empire Theatre Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Once more poor Poe dies in the gutter. Contradictory but never complex, David Scott Hay’s new play about Edgar Allan Poe delivers the usual frightfest: the poet’s demon drinking, temperamental outbursts against editors and writers (invariably inferior in his mind to himself), […]

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Chicago International Film Festival

Friday 6 October Peppermint Candy Lee Chang-dong, screenwriter of Park Kwang-soo’s magnificent To the Starry Island and A Single Spark, has outdone himself in this, his second directorial outing. A film of daunting scope and power, Peppermint Candy opens inauspiciously enough, with a highly disturbed man, Yongho, screaming in the face of an oncoming train. […]