Posted inArts & Culture

Bitchcakes

Bitchcakes, Second City Theatricals, at Second City E.T.C. Molly Cavanaugh and Gillian Vigman train their sights on lowlifes and fringe dwellers with the sort of pinpoint accuracy that might make Bukowski or Burrows jealous. In this hour-long sketch-comedy show, they effortlessly negotiate bold characterizations of suburban meatheads, creepy adolescents, vomiting Michigan Avenue drunks, and low-rent […]

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Little House Quite Contrary: Laura Ingalls Wilder Unscripted

Little House Quite Contrary: Laura Ingalls Wilder Unscripted Free Associates Theatre Company, at the Royal George Theatre Center Relying on the children’s books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the long-running TV series they inspired, the Free Associates play the plain pioneer folk of Walnut Grove in improvised episodes based on audience suggestions. Todd Guill conceived […]

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Look Through Any Window

Todd Hido: House Hunting at Carrie Secrist, through February 9 Suddenly awakening at dawn during a train trip, I caught sight of a small house in a field where a woman in kerchief and robe stood in an illuminated window making breakfast. I was a teenager then, but I’ve never forgotten this image and its […]

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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Shattered Globe Theatre, at Victory Gardens Theater. Edward Albee’s 1962 drama is a searing study of two alcohol-soaked marriages and the sadomasochistic games husbands and wives play. But it’s also very much a work of its time, when the forced normalcy of postwar America was beginning to unravel but it […]

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Bonchi

Set among the matrilineal merchant class of Osaka in the early 20th century, this 1960 family drama by Kon Ichikawa follows the son of a prosperous family (Raizo Ichikawa) as he fathers only boys with various wives and geishas, much to the chagrin of his manipulative grandmother and mother. Ichikawa wrote the script with his […]

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Benefit for “The Color of Violence”

Six videos showing in conjunction with “The Color of Violence,” a March 2002 conference on ending “both sexual/domestic violence and state-sponsored violence” against women of color. In History and Memory (1991), Rea Tajiri considers the internment of her mother’s Japanese-American family during World War II, but instead of resorting to the trite language of victimhood, […]

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Power Beyond Words

Acts of Mercy Flush Puppy Productions at Angel Island It’s become a commonplace to say that theater is dead, murdered by commercialization, self-indulgent experimentation, or televisionization. But the real problem is artists’ inability to bring theater fully to life. Many playwrights know how to manipulate an audience with easy morals and cheap sentiment. Many companies […]

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The Truth in Whispers

Japanese Inspirations: Frank Connet and Jiro Yonezawa at the Chicago Cultural Center, through February 10 Where so much recent art employs startling shapes or unusual content, mimicking the “look at me” quality of advertising, Frank Connet’s eight fiber works and Jiro Yonezawa’s eight bamboo sculptures are self-abnegating and contemplative, the colors muted, the forms organic. […]

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Cool and Crazy

It wasn’t until long after I’d watched this movie about a 30-man choir in a Norwegian fishing village with an “uninterrupted view to the north pole” that it occurred to me it might not be a documentary. I did notice that parts of it were unabashedly staged, as when the group is shown performing outdoors, […]

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Betty Xiang and Yang Wei

In their native China, Betty Xiang and Yang Wei were esteemed soloists with the National Shanghai Orchestra–she on the two-stringed, violinlike erhu, he on the lutelike pipa–but around six years ago, the couple decided to make a fresh start in America. They’ve adapted swiftly to Western idioms, playing alongside guitar, piano, violin, and even Western […]

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Mark Grant

Now one of Chicago’s most widely respected house producers and DJs, Mark Grant made his reputation in the mid- to late 90s as an artist on the Cajual label. Though he released a few solo sides, he did his best-known work either as a collaborator–recording “Dancin’” with label head Cajmere (under the name Chicago Connection) […]