The fifth annual Chicago Fringe Festival brings nine days of the political, the offbeat, and the weird to five Jefferson Park venues. Voted Best Performing Arts Festival in our Best of Chicago readers' poll this year, the event is part of an international movement that started in 1947 with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Over the course of Chicago's fest, 48 companies will gather to offer more than 200 performances of shows selected by lottery. All require the onetime purchase of a $5 festival admission button; see chicagofringe.org for a complete schedule.
Things kick off at 6 PM on Thursday, August 28, at Fischman Liquors & Tavern (4780 N. Milwaukee) with a opening reception featuring one-minute previews of scheduled shows and a dance party. It's free with the purchase of a button.
Highlights among the works by local troupes include The Penelopiad, presented by the Lost Geneva Project and based on Margaret Atwood's novella. In Something Something New Vagina, transgender artist Rebecca Kling "tackles issues of identity without ovary-acting." Oracle Productions' free show This House Believes the American Dream Is at the Expense of the American Negro, adapted and directed by Zachary Baker-Salmon, is based on a 1965 debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr.
From out-of-towners there are My Bones Shall Rise Again, by Ohio's Gail Nyoka, which uses traditional African storytelling techniques to relate a tale set against the background of 19th-century British colonialism. Waiting for Orson, a play by Washington D.C.-based Ian Leahy, presents a man in Penn Station awaiting the extraterrestrial being he believes will change his life. From Baltimore, Nicole Daniels's Kids on Bikes is an interview-based play that critiques the concept of the neighborhood watch in purportedly postracial America.
All proceeds from performances go directly to the participating artists. —Kerry Cardoza$10 per performance plus a $5 admission button http://chicagofringe.org
This summer-long multidisciplinary festival features weekly appearances by artists and troupes including Hubbard Street 2 (6/6), Solaire (7/18), and M.A.D.D. Rhythms (8/22), with times and locations to be announced two weeks before the performance.http://thelivingloopchicago.com