Produce | Strawdog Theatre | Dance | Chicago Reader
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Watching "Produce" is like peering into a teeming arts test tube. This in-the-round showcase, termed a "gateway drug" to experimental dance and music by Art Intercepts producer Lauren Warnecke, is an eyeful. Each of the eight groups participating this year, the program's third, offers a glimpse of its work; then emcees Warnecke and Anthony Ingram step in to mix, match, and make up the rules as they go. Hosting must be like orchestrating a huge, unruly dinner party: when I went, there were about 45 people in the room, pretty evenly divided between artists and audience. But Warnecke and Ingram were at ease, entertaining, and ingenious in their suggestions (augmented by audience ideas) for these on-the-spot collaborations. Among the highlights: Nexus Project dancers Benjamin Wardell and Michel Rodriguez picking partners from the audience, Michael Zerang playing a tambourine with a vibrator, Carole McCurdy sobbing in a viewer's lap, a riotous square dance for all the duet partners. Not every accident was happy, of course. Because viewers are toe-to-toe with the action, it can be hard to see the big picture. I got bored with a long discussion of program notes, and several direct hits to the eyes from a giant flashlight, wielded by an audience member across the room, were unpleasant. You can't beat the sparks of brilliance, though. —Laura Molzahn

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