PAC/edge Performance Festival | Festival | Chicago Reader

PAC/edge Performance Festival 

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This "convergence of Chicago artists," presented by Performing Arts Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, runs weekends through April 18. The avant-garde showcase features some of the city's most adventurous artists working in the disciplines of theater, performance, circus arts, storytelling, dance, music, video, and sound and installation art. Participants include Plasticene, Local Infinities, Sheldon B. Smith, 500 Clown, Mathew Wilson, Lucky Pierre, Goat Island, David Kodeski, Connor Kalista, the Walkabout Theater Company, and the Curious Theatre Branch.

All activities take place at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport; the sprawling arts complex hosts often simultaneous performances and installations on its main and studio stages and in offices, lounges, hallways, stairwells, and other spaces. The principal performance venues are the first-floor main stage and Studio 1; Studio 2 and Studio 3 on the second and third floors respectively; and the main-stage balcony lobby on the second floor in the rear of the building. (The second- and third-floor spaces must be reached by stairs.) The fest also offers workshops and panels with participating artists as shown below.

Prices for most events range from $5 to $20, 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 11; a complete schedule is available online at www.chicagoreader.com.

FRIDAY, APRIL 9

The Surrender Office

Conceptual artist Mathew Wilson will, according to a press release, "be available for a confidential, one-on-one consultation regarding the client's need to surrender to any person, object or idea. . . . At a mutually ageed upon time and place, Mr. Wilson will surrender on your behalf, wielding a large white flag and noble demeanor." Wilson's stated goal is to remain "earnest in the face of the ridiculous." Yet his task can be tinged with profundity. Wilson admits that in this piece he's a cross between a two-bit private eye and a third-rate psychoanalyst, yet his symbolic act has the potential to yield genuine results. (JHa) Coat check room, 7-10 PM. Free. Wilson and collaborator Adam Brooks also team up for a weekly stunt on the streets--dates and times to be posted online at www.industryoftheordinary.com. Free.

The Usual Haunts

Connor Kalista's interactive, ambulatory presentation uses a series of 5- to 20-minute guided tours to explore "the intertwined ideas of identity and environment." Taking a page from self-guided tours of art exhibits, Kalista hands out CD players to audience members. The narration we hear, however, has almost nothing to do with the space, though a few facts do filter in. Instead Kalista had his cast of 11 record three wistful, reflective stories that may be intertwined. Each one is set in a different location and is reinterpreted in light of the storytellers' own memories. (JHe) Main lobby, 7-10 PM. Free.

Nothing Happens (An Evening of Disappearing Acts)

Choreographers Sheldon B. Smith and Lisa Wymore--aka the Smith Family Performance Group--present a "multimedia dance theater duet" dealing with disappearance. Lobby studio, 7:30 PM. $15.

Voyaging

Lucky Plush Productions and Walkabout Theater Company present this multimedia look at Charles Darwin's travels aboard H.M.S. Beagle. Main stage, 7:30 PM. $20.

BlankSlate

Every play begins with a metaphorical blank slate. But most directors spoon-feed their audiences, providing instantly recognizable characters and situations and plenty of anxiety-relieving exposition. Not Dexter Bullard, founder of the physical-theater ensemble Plasticene. In this new piece they tease us for an hour or more with inconclusive contextualizing--props that may be literal or figurative, costumes that may or may not be significant, theatrical beats that may or may not be building blocks in an elusive plot. The performers tell incomplete stories about sexual rivalry, male bonding, and various other power relations. They also perform physical variations on the theme of actors and blackboards, writing on them, swinging from them, or scraping their nails across these blank slates. Executing their lifts, flips, and staged combat with virtuoso zeal, this athletic company neglects just one thing: making it clear what the show means. And thank God for that. (JHe) Studio 3, 7:30 and 9:30 PM. $15.

Doris

See Critic's Choice. Studio 1, 8 PM. $15.

Air Tact Light

Logic conspires to make director Brian Torrey Scott's new performance piece, created by the ensemble on the basis of a framework he devised, as deadeningly formalistic as a John Cage work. Air Tact Light gains life only when the performers briefly and seemingly accidentally escape from Scott's elegantly conceived but cold Pirandellian prison. Wordless scenes that require the six performers to shuffle chairs around the stage make up the first part of the show; later scenes with dialogue involve guns and police officers, giving the piece a violent edge. Scott drags a chair from the audience down to the edge of the stage midway through and inserts himself into the proceedings, whispering stage directions to the ensemble and effectively alienating the audience completely. Scott seems to have a strong visual sense: this hour-long piece might have worked better as an installation. Balled up in Scott's iron fist, this airless, precious piece feels like a cheat. (NG) Studio 2, 8 PM. $15.

Windows Server 2003/Active Directory Infrastructure

This new piece by the experimental theater company DOG attempts to translate into theatrical form an actual Microsoft program, Active Directory, that allows a network of computers to communicate with one another. The performers are subtle and sophisticated, but they exhibit a maniacal need to entertain--even when nothing entertaining is at hand. They spend most of their time trying to charm the audience into not noticing that they have little to do. The humor that results, built around a center left intentionally empty, is most satisfying when the show seems least concerned with its purported subject. What matters is that five unsettled and unsettling people in a tiny space are interacting with the explosive, unforced joy of a virtuoso clown routine. But the show falters when it takes a literal approach; Windows Server 2003 doesn't give the mind much room to wander, pinning down meaning rather than opening it up. Though this skilled ensemble is enjoyable in itself, the evening promises more than it delivers. (JHa) Studio 1, 10 PM. $15.

Lot's Wife

This new hour-long work by Local Infinities has precious few evocative moments. The performance utilizes salt--spilling out of pockets, dumped from a suitcase, even raining from the ceiling in a delicate white sheet. But the journey the performers take through this salty landscape seems aimless. Their gestures feel random and empty because they don't create meaningful characters or genuine relationships. The salt piles up, but significance doesn't. (JHa) Studio 2, 10 PM. $15.

Asimina Chremos Dance

Asimina Chremos Dance presents substage, a 20-minute solo piece. Basement dressing room, 10 and 10:30 PM. $5.

SATURDAY, APRIL 10

Plasticene Workshop

Director Dexter Bullard and company members introduce participants to the ensemble's process of making nonverbal physical theater. Studio 3, 3-6 PM. $30 (maximum enrollment 16).

Down in the New Chair

Beau O'Reilly directs fellow Curious Theatre Branch members in short plays penned by students in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's writing program. Studio 2, 4:30 PM. $5.

From the Source: Research and Influence in New Work

Artists appearing in the festival discuss how they transform research and observation into performance. Studio 1, 5 PM. Free.

The Surrender Office

See listing for Friday, April 9. Coat check room, 7-10 PM. Free.

The Usual Haunts

See listing for Friday, April 9. Main lobby, 7-10 PM. Free.

Nothing Happens (An Evening of Disappearing Acts)

See listing for Friday, April 9. Lobby studio, 7:30 PM. $15.

Voyaging

See listing for Friday, April 9. Main stage, 7:30 PM. $20.

Windows Server 2003/Active Directory Infrastructure

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

Petitmal

Stephen Fiehn and Tyler B. Myers--aka Cupola Bobber--explore "modern anxiety" in this performance piece. Studio 2, 8 PM. $15.

BlankSlate

See listing for Friday, April 9. Studio 3, 8 PM. $15.

Doris

See Critic's Choice. Studio 1, 10 PM. $15.

Air Tact Light

See listing for Friday, April 9. Studio 2, 10 PM. $15.

reVerse

The Poetry Center of Chicago presents a reading by Li-Young Lee, Marvin Tate, and others. Studio 3, 10 PM. $10.

Asimina Chremos Dance

See listing for Friday, April 9. Basement dressing room, 10 and 10:30 PM. $5.

SUNDAY, APRIL 11

Down in the New Chair

See listing for Saturday, April 10. Studio 2, 1 PM. $5.

The Surrender Office

See listing for Friday, April 9. Coat check room, 3-6 PM. Free.

The Usual Haunts

See listing for Friday, April 9. Main lobby, 3-6 PM. Free.

BlankSlate

See listing for Friday, April 9. Studio 3, 3 and 6 PM. $15.

Nothing Happens (An Evening of Disappearing Acts)

See listing for Friday, April 9. Lobby studio, 3:30 PM. $15.

Windows Server 2003/Active Directory Infrastructure

See listing for Friday, April 9. Studio 1, 3:30 PM. $15.

August: Where Do Parents Come From?

The Goat Island performance group stages a reading of excerpts from a yearlong writing project about parents. Studio 2, 3:30 PM. $5.

Voyaging

See listing for Friday, April 9. Main stage, 4 PM. $20.

Doris

See listing for Friday, April 9. Studio 1, 6 PM. $15.

Lot's Wife

See listing for Friday, April 9. Studio 2, 6 PM. $15.

The Eliphino Concert

Curious Theatre Branch members Beau O'Reilly and Jenny Magnus perform music. Studio 1, 9 PM. $10.

ONGOING THROUGH APRIL 18

Good and Bad Things Come From Explosions

Heather Hubbs and Lorelei Stewart curated this showing of 15 Chicago-area visual artists. Throughout the Athenaeum, ongoing during festival hours. Free.

Handle With Care: Direct Mail and the American Dream

This installation by GirlCharlie uses direct mail from sweepstakes and political groups to "immerse spectators in the language of hate, fear, and greed." Second floor, ongoing during festival hours. Free.

Mossans Saga (The Moss' Tale)

Participants can put on a moss hat with speakers to interact with "an oversized fairytale book" in this installation by Swedish artist Malin Lindelow. Curtain Call Club, first floor, ongoing during festival hours. Free.

Ra=Raw/Spirit

Malin Lindelow invokes the skogsra--a dangerous figure from Swedish folklore with the body of a woman and the tail of a beast--in this video installation. Curtain Call Club, first floor, ongoing during festival hours. Free.

Sodium Chloride

Local Infinities' visual installation serves as a companion piece to their Lot's Wife (see listing for Friday, April 2). Second floor, ongoing during festival hours. Free.

Unmaking the World: Measuring Our Chances Again

Artists Dolores Wilber, Wholesale Chicago, and Donald Lambert use globes, weather balloons, circus imagery, and a grand piano in this visual installation that examines "the political and ecological events threatening to unravel our civilization." Stairwell and second-floor balcony, ongoing during festival hours. Free. ¥ On Friday, April 2, at 7 and 9:30 PM, storyteller Beau O'Reilly offers a performative response to this installation. Second-floor balcony foyer. Free.

Watercloset(s)

Sandra Binion's video installation forms a diptych, using images of water and fragments of conversations between men and women to explore the tension between intimacy and public space. Men's and women's restrooms, ongoing during festival hours. Free.

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