Ladyfest Midwest | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ladyfest Midwest 

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Last summer Olympia, Washington, hosted the first Ladyfest; inspired by the success of the northwest extravaganza, sister festivals have sprung up everywhere from Bloomington, Indiana, to Glasgow, Scotland. The Chicago version--running for four days, primarily in the Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, and Logan Square neighborhoods--brings together a delicious array of talent from home and away. Saturday at 10:30 PM, Julia Rhoads and Holly Quinn, of cleverly lunatic Lucky Plush Productions, reunite with fellow veteran of Xsight! Performance Group Marianne Kim (now based in California) and join former Baubo Performance Project members Sara Kraft and Martha Donovan. Kraft, now a Bay Area vocalist, shows up Friday at 8 PM in "Close Proximity: Performative Voices," an evening of experimental vocalization and sound that also features Lara Oppenheimer's fascinating possessed-diva persona. The peripatetic Oppenheimer pops up Friday between 5:45 and 7 PM too as part of a program of site-specific performances, "I Say I Am." That lineup also includes San Franciscan Kathryn Williamson; in a piece of hers I saw on video, she wraps herself tightly in cellophane tape, leaving only her buttocks free. The end result--pardon the pun--looks very much like a live-action R. Crumb comic filtered through a feminist sensibility. Bridget Irish of Washington (vet of the original Ladyfest, who in the past has played naked Twister with audience members) will premiere a piece on the same program. Puppetry, monologues, dance, drumming, and an underwater ballet (courtesy of Elyce Semenec and her "aqua starlettes") at the Holstein Park outdoor pool add to the embarrassment of riches. (Performances at various venues; see sidebar for locations and ticket information. For a complete schedule, including music, see Section Three or visit


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