Bucktown Arts Fest | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Bucktown Arts Fest 

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"I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars," Walt Whitman wrote in "Song of Myself." But I doubt that the great poet ever imagined women declaiming his verse while walking around in Hawaiian-style "grass" skirts made of paper "leaves" adorned with his words. Nevertheless the Hula Girls, a spoken-word trio, thus garbed and roaming the grounds of the 15th annual Bucktown Arts Fest are very much in Whitman's spirit of robust celebration of the lusciousness of life. Besides the Hula Girls (folk dancer Rhonda Feren and poets Lily Gaines and Effie Mihopoulos, wearing Christa Pullay Aguilar's costumes), this free, family-oriented festival offers Union Train, an interactive drama with music by Joan McGann Morris and Ken Morris about women labor leaders in Chicago. Based on oral histories collected by the Women and Labor History Project, this show uses storytelling and song to recount the 1997 Teamsters' strike against UPS. A full schedule of theater and performance events appears in the Performance listings. The festival also offers what is claimed to be the city's largest poetry reading as well as dance and visual-art attractions (check the Readings & Lectures, Dance, and Galleries & Museums listings) and a lineup of live music (see the Music listings). The festival takes place in Senior Citizens Memorial Park and Holstein Park, Lyndale and Oakley (2300 north and 2300 west), Chicago; most theater performances take place in the Holstein Park field house, 2200 N. Oakley, Chicago, or in the outdoor theater space at Oakley south of Lyndale. For more information, call 312-409-8305. --Albert Williams

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