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In Chicago, even-numbered years bring the odd productions from around the world to town. At least they have since 1986, when Jane Nicholl Sahlins, Bernard Sahlins, and Pam Marsden first launched this sometimes controversial, visionary biennial event. When the festival was founded, Chicago was routinely omitted from major national theater tours, whose producers gauged that the attentions of Windy City audiences were preempted by local shows. Although that has changed in the past year, the festival is still Chicago's only affirmation that there's more to French, British, and Canadian theater, say, than Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and Aspects of Love. Luckily, the festival doesn't settle for exclusivity. It also pays attention to quality, both in the shows it imparts and in the way it presents them; it mixes big-ticket events with less commercially reliable fare; and it augments the theatergoing experience with a round of lectures, seminars, postperformance discussions, and professional artists' workshops. For information an the auxiliary events, call the festival directly. For information an the shows, read on.

The 1992 International Theatre Festival of Chicago wraps up this weekend with performances by Ireland's Gate Theatre, Poland's Akademia Ruchu, and Japan's Daisan Erotica. Performances take place at the following venues: DePaul University's Blackstone Theatre, 60 E. Balbo; Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted; and the University of Illinois at Chicago's UIC Theater, 1040 W. Harrison. For ticket reservations, call 644-3378; for group, student, and senior discounts and general festival information, call 664-3370. Following is the schedule for June 18 through 21:

THURSDAY, JUNE 18

ENGLISH LESSON and CARTHAGE Warsaw's Akademia Ruchu (Academy of Movement), founded in 1973 by Wojcieck Krukowski, is claimed to be Poland's "most significant example of alternative theater." Its American debut engagement here through June 21 features four different works spread out over two evenings. The first program, closing tonight, consists of English Lesson, in which a language class is used as a metaphor for authoritarian control, and Carthage, in which a slanting wall's oppressiveness provokes a population to violence. Note that a general-admission seating policy is in force here. UIC Theater, 7:30 PM. $20.

WAITING FOR GODOT Samuel Beckett's existentialist masterpiece was first produced in Paris in 1953 as En attendant Godot, and Beckett himself wrote mainly in French. But the Nobel Prize-winning playwright was a born and bred Irishman, so it's fitting that Dublin's Gate Theatre lays special claim to this philosophical comedy about two tramps waiting for help that never arrives. Barry McGovern (seen at the 1988 International Theatre Festival in the Gate's I'll Go On) and Johnny Murphy (featured in the film The Commitments) star under Walter Asmus's direction; the production runs through June 21. (The Gate's engagement includes a "Beckett Weekend" June 19 through 21 that also features a performance of Krapp's Last Tape, an exhibition of video and radio productions of Beckett's work, a dinner featuring Walter Asmus as guest speaker, and a breakfast discussion led by Boston University professor Christopher Ricks; call 664-3370 for information.) Blackstone Theatre, 7:30 PM. $15-$35.

A MAN CALLED MACBETH See Critic's Choice. Steppenwolf Theatre, 7:30 PM. $29.

FRIDAY, JUNE 19

A MAN CALLED MACBETH See Critic's Choice. Steppenwolf Theatre, 7:30 PM.

EVERYDAY LIFE AFTER THE REVOLUTION, PART TWO and ACTION The final two offerings from Warsaw's Akademia Ruchu (Academy of Movement), running through June 21, contrast rigid gesture in the first work's depiction of a repressive postrevolutionary society with spontaneous activity in the second work, which is performed outdoors and involves interaction between the actors, the paying audience, and passersby. Note that a general-admission seating policy is in force here. UIC Theater, 7:30 PM. $24.

WAITING FOR GODOT See listing under Thursday, June 18. Blackstone Theatre, 7:30 PM. $20-$40.

KRAPP'S LAST TAPE The Gate Theatre's production of Samuel Beckett's monodrama features David Kelly (who's been playing the role for some 30 years, since the work's Irish premiere in the 1950s) as Krapp, the insulated old coot who celebrates his birthday by listening to a tape recording made 30 years earlier. (This one-nighter is presented as part of the festival's "Beckett Weekend" which also features an exhibition of video and radio productions of Beckett's work, a dinner featuring Walter Asmus as guest speaker, and a breakfast discussion led by Boston University professor Christopher Ricks; call 664-3370 for information.) Blackstone Theatre, 10:30 PM. $15.

SATURDAY, JUNE 20

WAITING FOR GODOT See listing under Thursday, June 18. Blackstone Theatre, 2 and 7:30 PM. $20-$40.

EVERYDAY LIFE AFTER THE REVOLUTION, PART TWO and ACTION See listing under Friday, June 19. UIC Theater, 5 and 8:30 PM. $24.

A MAN CALLED MACBETH See Critic's Choice. Steppenwolf Theatre, 5 and 8:30 PM. $32.

SUNDAY, JUNE 21

A MAN CALLED MACBETH See Critic's Choice. Steppenwolf Theatre, 2 and 7:30 PM. $32.

EVERYDAY LIFE AFTER THE REVOLUTION, PART TWO and ACTION See listing under Friday, June 19. UIC Theater, 2 and 7:30 PM. $24.

WAITING FOR GODOT See listing under Thursday, June 18. Blackstone Theatre, 2 and 7:30 PM. $20-$40.

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