Posted inArts & Culture

The Substance of Fire

The Substance of Fire, Organic Theater Company. In the decade since it premiered, Jon Robin Baitz’s tense chronicle of the increasingly dirty machinations at a family-owned New York publishing house in the late 80s hasn’t become any less urgent. Certainly all the problems he documents–most notably corporate culture’s soullessness and corruption of power–remain clear and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

John McNeil

In the late 70s and early 80s, after stints with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra and Horace Silver’s quintet, trumpeter John McNeil first pursued a solo career, for which he received strong notices from a handful of influential critics around the country. They admired the subtle iconoclasms of his style: a pure, slightly pinched tone, […]

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Yin Mei Dance

The mysterious East is a cliche, but mystery is undeniably a component of dancer-choreographer Yin Mei’s evening-length /Asunder, a piece for four accompanied by Robert Een’s score played live. Mei, based in New York, was born in China, performed as a principal dancer with the Hong Kong Dance Company, and came to this country in […]

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Pat Martino

Lots of jazz musicians learn to play by listening to other folks’ records. Pat Martino is one of the few to do it by listening to his own. In 1980 he was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, and after corrective surgery woke up with no memory of what his guitar playing sounded like. Fortunately he […]

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Winesburg, Ohio

Winesburg, Ohio, Steppenwolf Theatre Company. No one would ever confuse this suffocating Buckeye burg with the idyllic Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire (though Sherwood Anderson’s influence on the mood, characterization, even dialogue of Our Town is palpable). Eric Rosen’s swift-moving but broadly drawn 70-minute stage adaptation faithfully reproduces Anderson’s conditional compassion for small-town “grotesques,” tenderly exploiting […]

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Sketch Fest

This showcase of Chicago sketch comedy, presented by Posin’ at the Bar, features more than 30 local ensembles–some well established, some new to the scene–representing a remarkable range of styles and viewpoints, with two to four groups sharing the bill at each performance. Sketch Fest runs through March 2 at Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. […]

Posted inNews & Politics

City File

You know Chicago is prospering when new construction can be called a disease. Two surveyors for the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois recently examined construction activity in an 18-square-block section of East Village and a 17-block stretch of Damen between Waveland and Diversey (the “Cornerstone,” January). In both areas they found that “more than 20 […]

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Missing Allen

Allen Ross, who cofounded Chicago Filmmakers in the early 1970s, vanished mysteriously in 1995, two years after he surprised his friends by suddenly marrying alleged cult leader Linda Greene and leaving Chicago. German filmmaker Christian Bauer says that for both of them filmmaking was a “way of understanding the world,” and his 2001 documentary tries […]

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Festival of Cinema for the Deaf

The first Festival of Cinema for the Deaf continues Friday through Monday, March 1 through 4, at Pipers Alley, City North 14, and Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton. Some films are captioned; the other screenings will feature interpreters of both spoken English and American Sign Language. Unless otherwise noted, tickets are $5. For more […]

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And So I May Return

And So I May Return, Plasticene, at the Viaduct Theater. Plasticene’s brand of physical theater fills the cavernous Viaduct space in the company’s seventh show, directed by Dexter Bullard. The audience is limited to 48 people each night, who enter in groups of six or seven to witness vignettes in different areas of the theater. […]

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Stars ‘n’ Scars

Death on a Pink Carpet Live Bait Theater Hinckley on Foster: The Hearing Great Beast Theater at Pilsen Theatre Hollywood is a dream factory, flooding the collective unconscious with shiny assembly-line product, crowding out individual desire, replacing it with things hypnotic and addictive. The plant manufacturing this celluloid drug generates some nasty psychic pollution and […]

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Dirty Blonde

It’s so nice (and rare) to be able to say this about any play, particularly a touring edition of a Broadway production: I enjoyed Dirty Blonde from start to finish without reservation. It’s a smart, funny, sweet, and offbeat love story as well as an illuminating reflection on one of pop culture’s most influential icons. […]