PAC/edge Performance Festival | Festival | Chicago Reader

PAC/edge Performance Festival 

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This self-styled "convergence of Chicago artists," running through April 26, is presented by Performing Arts Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Boasting Chicago first lady Maggie Daley as honorary chair, the avant-garde festival features more than 100 multidisciplinary presentations. All shows take place at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; the sprawling arts complex is a hive of activity, with simultaneous performances and installations in its four studio theaters as well as lounges, hallways, stairwells, and other spaces. The fest also includes workshops and panels with participating artists at other venues as shown below. Prices for individual events range from $5 to $15, though workshops generally cost more and some events and installations are free; see listings for details. For tickets and more information, and to register for workshops, call Performing Arts Chicago at 773-722-5463. Tickets can also be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling 312-902-1500 or logging on to www.ticketmaster.com.

Following is the schedule through April 13; the complete schedule is available on-line at www.chicagoreader.com.

FRIDAY, APRIL 11

Bianco Veneziano

Sandra Binion's video installation brings the sights and sounds of Venice to the Athenaeum stairwell. Athenaeum stairwell. 7-11 PM; free.

StareWell

Free Street's touring youth ensemble MadJoy Theatrics (formerly known as TeenStreet) presents a performance piece in the Athenaeum stairwell. Athenaeum stairwell. 7 PM; free.

Chumpstrap: A Madras Parable and Refracting Rainbows

The Curious Theatre Branch presents a double bill of world premieres. "The fourth in a series of 'parables' created since 1987 by Curious cofounders Jenny Magnus and Beau O'Reilly, [Chumpstrap] juxtaposes his relatively unadorned storytelling with her sly musical accompaniment. . . . O'Reilly tells of his struggles to fit into two male enclaves: first as a kid alongside his older, more athletic, more 'boylike' brothers, . . . and second as an adult with a pair of fearless, hard-drinking professional movers. . . . An imposing figure known for his larger-than-life performances, O'Reilly here adopts a quiet, gentle persona that lends his uncharacteristically bare-bones stories a refreshing naivete. . . . Chumpstrap is paired with a brief ensemble piece, Refracting Rainbows, created and performed by Marianne Fieber and KellyAnn Corcoran. While they talk and sing about the losses they've suffered . . . a choruslike trio of women play various incidental roles. [The] text is pared to the barest essentials. As a result some sections feel sketchy, but others have a poetic resonance," says Reader critic Justin Hayford. Athenaeum Studio 2. 7:30 PM; $15.

500 Clown Frankenstein

The troupe that skewered Shakespeare in 500 Clown Macbeth takes on Mary Shelley's creation in this world premiere. "[The] three cast members . . . perform with such synchronized nuance you'd swear they'd been working together for decades. . . . Adrian Danzig, Molly Brennan, and Paul Kalina are delightfully grotesque, dolled up in rapidly deteriorating costumes soaked with strategically placed bloodstains. Their generally edgy performances are enhanced by harrowing physical comedy that repeatedly brings the actors to the brink of injury. But while the group's utter inability to retell Frankenstein is charming for a while, their haplessness wears thin about halfway through, when it becomes clear the novel is merely an excuse for clowning," says Reader critic Justin Hayford. Athenaeum Studio 1. 7:30 PM; $15.

The Palmer Raids: A Theatrical Construction

Plasticene Physical Theater's historical drama recounts the response to a rash of terrorist bombings in New York and Washington in 1919. "Hacking a decided narrative path through a jungle of historical documents, [Plasticene] came up with the most rigorous, entertaining, and cogent work [they've] yet produced. The ensemble's tightly choreographed physical routines help amplify the political and moral chaos caused by the bombings, while their thoughtful readings of newspaper clippings, court testimony, and personal letters add layers of psychological complexity. The work's current relevance is unmistakable; after Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer was nearly killed by a bomb blast, he sanctioned the incarceration of some 5,000 foreign nationals, declared a war on anarchists, and otherwise attacked civil liberties on a scale that would make John Ashcroft proud," says Reader critic Justin Hayford. Athenaeum Studio 4. 7:30 PM; $15.

Spirits to Enforce

Theater Oobleck presents Mickle Maher's new play about "superheroes, telemarketing, and Shakespeare's The Tempest." Athenaeum Lookingglass Theatre Company space. 8 PM; $15.

How to Manage Fear

Lucky Pierre performs its response to the car chase from the 1968 movie Bullitt. "With trademark deadpan candor, the five performers spend the first third of the piece alternately scouring their memories for highway adventures--memories that continually morph into cinematic tropes--and chanting enthusiastic litanies of obscenities like doltish frat boys. Gradually these two strains converge; as the performers assemble into a panel to pick apart the Bullitt chase scene shot by shot . . . it's clear that their 'memories' all come from the movie itself. It also becomes apparent that this classic car chase represents the destruction of the original Christian paradise (or 'the incursion of the machine into the pastoral,' as the mock panelists put it), leading the performers to manufacture their own Eden complete with inflatable plastic flowers and a Backstreet Boys sound track. The subtle religiosity of the work is ingeniously enhanced by Jeffrey Kowalkowski's score. . . . With its intricate structure and perfectly articulated arc, How to Manage Fear is about as close as you can get to performance-art heaven," said Reader critic Justin Hayford of the show's original run last year. Athenaeum Studio 1. 9:30 PM; $15.

Ecstasy: Ten Things I Didn't Know I Learned

Trevor Martin and Kym Olsen refer to Joan of Arc and Gilles de Rais in this study of "spirituality, sexuality, and gender slippage" in the Middle Ages. Athenaeum Studio 2. 10 PM; $15.

Interference

Director Leslie Buxbaum-Danzig and her new theater company DOG based this production on The Birds by Aristophanes. "This playful, demanding, thrillingly hip conundrum . . . offers irrefutable proof of the fringe's continued fertility. . . . DOG eschews most theatrical conventions--character, scene, plot, and, some might argue, content--in favor of lyrically quotidian actions. [The performers] speak a beguiling, original, and highly cryptic theatrical language. [The] DOGs forgo meaning in favor of provocation, mystification, and intrigue, fixing a Fluxus-like eye on the beauty of everyday human interaction. . . . And thanks to this superb ensemble's exquisite clowning skills, everything's done with abundant humor," says Reader critic Justin Hayford. Athenaeum Studio 4. 10 PM; $15.

SATURDAY, APRIL 12

The Brink Sessions: Dialogues on Performance, Session 1

A panel of festival artists, moderated by Leslie Buxbaum Danzig, discusses "Artist, Audience, and Expectation." Athenaeum Studio 1. 4 PM; free.

Bianco Veneziano

See listing for 7-11 PM Friday, April 11. Athenaeum stairwell. 7-11 PM; free.

StareWell

See listing for 7 PM Friday, April 11. Athenaeum stairwell. 7 PM; free.

Chumpstrap: A Madras Parable and Refracting Rainbows

See listing for 7:30 PM Friday, April 11. Athenaeum Studio 2. 7:30 PM; $15.

How to Manage Fear

See listing for 9:30 PM Friday, April 11. Athenaeum Studio 1. 7:30 PM; $15.

Interference

See listing for 10 PM Friday, April 11. Athenaeum Studio 4. 7:30 PM; $15.

A Little Thing

This dance-theater piece, presented by the Albany Park Theatre Project, features a "postmodern Greek chorus and a percussive score performed with knitting needles." Athenaeum Studio 3. 8 PM; $15.

Spirits to Enforce

See listing for 8 PM Friday, April 11. Athenaeum Lookingglass Theatre Company space. 8 PM; $15.

500 Clown Frankenstein

See listing for 7:30 PM Friday, April 11. Athenaeum Studio 1. 9:30 PM; $15.

I Can't Explain the Beauty

See Critic's Choice. Athenaeum Studio 2. 9:30 PM; $15.

108 Ways to Nirvana

Blair Thomas and Michael Zerang's three-part piece combines puppetry and music. Buster Keaton and the Buddha is a short puppet play, "The Third Pythia of Flin Flon" is a solo percussion composition, and "The Blackbird" borrows from Wallace Stevens's poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." Athenaeum Studio 3. 10 PM; $15.

The Palmer Raids: A Theatrical Construction

See listing for 7:30 PM Friday, April 11. Athenaeum Studio 4. 10 PM; $15.

SUNDAY, APRIL 13

500 Clown: Workshop III--Who Are You When You Perform Clown Theater?

The clown troupe answers the question by allowing participants to "access their clown presence" in this advanced workshop. Athenaeum Studio 1. 2-6 PM; $50.

Bianco Veneziano

See listing for 7-11 PM Friday, April 11. Athenaeum stairwell. 3:30-7 PM; free.

The Palmer Raids: A Theatrical Construction

See listing for 7:30 PM Friday, April 11. Athenaeum Studio 4. 4 PM; $15.

108 Ways to Nirvana

See listing for 10 PM Saturday, April 12. Athenaeum Studio 3. 4:30 PM; $15.

I Can't Explain the Beauty

See Critic's Choice. Athenaeum Studio 2. 5 PM; $15.

Interference

See listing for 10 PM Friday, April 11. Athenaeum Studio 4. 7 PM; $15.

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Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Manic Mondays Frances Cocktail Lounge
November 20
Performing Arts
Spirits to Enforce Berry Memorial United Methodist Church
November 08

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