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Friday 7/27 - Thursday 8/2

JULY

27 FRIDAY "Eurydice is just as tragic as the other characters," says playwright Ester Lebo of the story of Oedipus and Antigone. "But Eurydice has maybe six lines of dialogue in the original works." Lebo wrote Four Women of Thebes to tell the story from the points of view of Jocasta, Antigone, Ismene, and the neglected wife of Creon. The three-act play, based on Sophocles' Oedipus trilogy and Aeschylus's Seven Against Thebes, is the first foray for Lebo's Harridan Productions; it opens tonight at 8 and runs Thursdays through Saturdays through August 25 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors, and two-for-one for students; call 312-902-1500.

28 SATURDAY The deaths of some 80,000 Chicagoans due to water contamination prompted the Sanitary District of Chicago to reverse the flow of the Chicago River in 1900. After this technological feat, the river emptied into the newly constructed Sanitary and Ship Canal rather than into the lake--the source of the city's drinking water. These days the cleanest part of the waterway--which is home to carp, goldfish, and other species--is the Main Branch, especially the area where the lake feeds into it. The mouth of the river (between Michigan Avenue and the locks) is the focus of today's Friends of the Chicago River Scouting Outing. The tour leaves at 10 AM from Pioneer Court at the northeast corner of the Michigan Avenue bridge. It's $5; for reservations call 312-939-0490.

Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors aren't part of this year's Nuveen Champions senior tennis tour, which means that their former rival John McEnroe may have an easier time defending his title this weekend. Tonight at 5 he'll play Rock 'n' Roll High School star (and tennis pro) Vince Van Patten. The tournament, which also features Mats Wilander, John Lloyd, Mansour Bahrami, Henri Leconte, Mikael Pernfors, and Yannick Noah, started July 25 and runs through tomorrow (finals start at 1) at Daley Bicentennial Plaza, 337 E. Randolph (in Grant Park). Individual tickets range from $20 to $40; call 866-783-6647.

Every year the Bughouse Square tradition of soapbox oration is revived by the Newberry Library. Today speakers will cover sanctions against Iran (Kathy Kelly, from Voices in the Wilderness), overdependence on the auto (Jim Redd, representing Critical Mass), gentrification (Pamela Alfonso, executive director of the Metropolitan Tenants Organization), juvenile justice (Justice R. Eugene Pincham), and other topics. Studs Terkel is the introductory speaker. The debates are from 1 to 5 and take place in Washington Square Park in conjunction with (and adjacent to) the Newberry Library Book Fair, which started Thursday and runs today and Sunday from 10 to 6 at the library, 60 W. Walton. On Friday night from 6 to 7 actors will reenact speeches by turn-of-the-century Wobbly Lucy Parsons, author Nelson Algren, and social reformer and lawyer Clarence Darrow. From 7 to 8 the mikes will be turned over to the public for "open gripe" night. It's all free; call 312-255-3510.

29 SUNDAY Bridgeport's modest frame and brick dwellings belie its history as the birthplace of so much Chicago clout. Five mayors--Edward Joseph Kelly, Martin Kennelly, Michael Bilandic, and both Daleys--plus innumerable lesser politicos, priests, and policemen have come out of the neighborhood. Bridgeport, which developed when the Illinois and Michigan Canal was being constructed in the 1830s and '40s, is the focus of today's Chicago Architecture Foundation Tour. The two-hour excursion starts at 1 in McGuane Park at 30th and Halsted; it's $5. For more information call 312-922-3432 or see www.architecture.org.

30 MONDAY Every Monday night for the past several weeks, 16 teens and police officers have taken improv classes together as part of the Live Bait Theater's Police-Teen Link Program. "We purposely told them they don't have to come up with police-crime scenarios, but they do come up with them," says Live Bait artistic director Sharon Evans. Other times, "a cop will be the dog and the kid will be the owner, which completely flips the roles they have. Of course the kids love that." The group will give its first public performance tonight (and an encore tomorrow night) at 7 at the Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark. Each free performance will be followed by a reception. Call 773-871-1212 for more.

31 TUESDAY The history of canning dates back to the 1790s, when French confectioner Nicolas Appert discovered that heating and then cooling food to vacuum seal it in glass bottles kept it from deteriorating. The practice was soon picked up by the French navy, and in 1810 Englishman Peter Durand patented a canning process using tin-plated wrought iron cans. Tonight's free workshop--part one of two--on the Culinary Art of Home Food Preservation will focus on basic techniques and sweet treats. It'll be led by Drusilla Banks, a nutrition and wellness educator with the University of Illinois Extension, and it takes place from 7 to 9 at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, 3807 W. 111th. (Part two--on tomatoes, pickles, and fall produce--is from 7 to 9 on Wednesday, August 8.) Each workshop is $10 and registration is required; call 773-233-0476.

The 1935 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers vehicle Top Hat was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture and best dance direction, but didn't take home a thing. Nonetheless it was RKO's biggest box office hit of the 1930s. It'll be shown for free tonight as part of the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival, which starts at sunset (around 8:30). The films are projected onto a 50-by-34-foot screen in Grant Park at Monroe and Lake Shore Drive (312-744-3315).

AUGUST

1 WEDNESDAY A few years ago personal trainer John Hall devised a workout for himself that included running in sand, jumping rope, doing step-ups on park benches, navigating an obstacle course, and working with medicine balls, weighted ropes, and giant rubber bands. "My clients started asking to come outside and do the workout with me," he says. "More and more started coming, so I said, 'Shoot, I might as well get paid for it.'" His hour-long Hard-core Cardio Camp burns about 500 calories and attracts 15 to 20 people each weekday morning rain or shine. Today's introductory class is free and meets at 6 AM in the parking lot at Diversey and Lake Shore Drive West; call 773-862-2180 for more.

2 THURSDAY In late April the Art Institute released plans for a $200 million addition designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano (who codesigned the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris). It's to be built where Howard Van Doren Shaw's 75-year-old Goodman Theater now stands, and should open in 2005 or 2006. Today at 12:15 the Art Institute's Robert Jones and InterActive Design's Robert Larson will show models and drawings and explain the plans for the addition. The brown-bag lunch discussion is sponsored by Friends of Downtown and takes place in the fifth-floor southeast meeting room at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. It's free (312-744-6630).

Honeybees are the fuzzy ones, wasps are thin and reddish brown, hornets are black, and they all have stingers and should be left alone. Tonight's workshop, Hornets, Wasps, and Honeybees--What Is the Difference and Who Cares?, will be led by professional beekeeper Pete Samorez. It starts at 7 PM at North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski. It's free, but registration is required. Call 312-744-5472.

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