Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lotsa Stuff

You'll have to pardon my absence and the subsequent brief follow-up... we're in tech for Handcuffs, so my rec time has gone the way of the extinction for the present. And speaking of which, let's get to that brief follow-up first.

If there are only two things that you take from this entire post, let it be these two:

1) Due to the massive amount of talent and general kickassery involved, you must come see The Right Brain Project's production of Fernando Arrabal's ...And They Put Handcuffs On The Flowers, which opens this Thursday.
2) The show is freaking free. Not "suggested donation of $12 which means you owe us $12" free, but "if you want to donate, we'll love you all the more, but if not, we'll still love you and the show is still free" free.
And, 3) (because I'm sure you can handle an unexpected third, dear friends) You need to make reservations now. They are required, because the show is free and it's a very, very intimate space. Just pull out your planner, mark off a performance date before March 7 ( for more details) and call 773-750-2033 or e-mail to say what date you are coming. It's that easy. You'll be done in five minutes and not have to worry about showing up for nothing because our small house filled up faster than you anticipated. Trust me on this.

The show kicks much ass and is working in a stylistic and atmospheric manner that I can honestly say I've never witnessed before, and I go see a lot of stuff. I think you'll like it a lot, and even on the off chance that I'm wrong, it's not like you threw your money away.

Again, go to or e-mail me for more details. And let me know when you're coming -- we'll grab a drink after and it'll be fab.


So, you know who rocks? Companhia Triptal rocks. The weekend before last their Long Voyage Home would have joined The Maids on my current Best of the Best list had I not been at the closing show, and Bound East For Cardiff -- the only show I made it to this past weekend -- was also quite breathtaking. I say that I've never witnessed anything stylistically or atmospherically like Handcuffs, but Triptal is one of the closest things that comes to mind. Their three week run was something nearing a complete theatrical experience -- either a world of paradoxes or entirely vacillating. Intimate and grandiose, overblown in its subtlety, packed with lo-fi spectacle, Triptal's Sea Plays were the perfect example of theatre without doubt. There were a number of elements (particularly in Long Voyage Home, my favorite of the three) that, in all common sense, should not have meshed well. And yet, performed with such fervor and stride - not to mention so damn well - it all seems so front of your face. Suddenly the question isn't "Why can't this be done?", but "Why aren't more people doing this?"

Cardiff marked the halfway point in my O'Neill Festival experience and I have to say, even if I hate every second of the last four shows (and I don't see that happening in any reality), this is the theatrical event of '09 to beat. The Goodman deserves three times the accolades they are getting for curating this festival, and I for one hope they continue on this track. They've got in me a new lifetime subscriber to any widescale Festival they put up from here on out.


On the same page, but much less exciting for me was the latest entry in Chicago Shakes' World's Stage series. Rwandan company Urwintore's The Investigation left me underwhelmed. This is partly because it's a soft piece that relies on the intricacies of delivery that a performer can provide; intricacies that don't translate through supertitles. Of course, this isn't a fault of the production so much as my inability to fully take the show in. But despite that fact, the idea remains that the Holocaust Artwork is on the verge of becoming ineffective through saturation (moreso through reverent saturation). The contemporization that I was expecting through the unspoken presence of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide didn't hit me primarily because it remained so unspoken. Remembrance is great -- remembrance is necessary, but after 50+ years, remembrance is a game for museums. Art works much better if it is willing to speak on it's own, which Weiss' play was doing in 1964. Urwintore, on the other hand, let Weiss speak for them in 2009, and it isn't much to their benefit.


Speaking on a different cultural removal, Steep's In Arabia We'd All Be Kings addresses the Disneyfication of NYC. The piece runs a danger of becoming a parade of stereotypes, primarily because living so close in date to the shift, a good number of people continue to see Giuliani's cleaning of the gutters as a fully positive change. But director Joanie Schultz guides the show directly where it needs to be: a full acknowledgement of the danger and filth that thrived in Manhattan pre-clean, but also a portrait of the humanity of those that were so easily branded as trash to be swept aside.


The one other thing on my docket this past weekend was the Chicago Fringe Artists Networking Night (CFANN), hosted by the fine folks at Red Tape Theatre. The evening appeared on all counts to be a hit, which is very exciting for a fringe artist event. The turnout was fantastic, and while the performances were far from batting 1.000, the ones that shone, really shone... (and, for a fringe event, I would expect no less than a wide degree of variance; in some cases, it's more exciting that everything doesn't work)


So there you go. It was brief update, but at least I'm caught up just in time to jump right back into tech. I'm not seeing anything this weekend (because I'm opening a show, fools!), but am making up for the slack immediately thereafter with the racially inverted casts of ATC and Congo Square's True West and topdog/underdog next Monday and The Hypocrites' The Hairy Ape at the Goodman next Tuesday.

In the meantime, make your reservation to come see Handcuffs this weekend or soon thereafter. Opening night is now officially sold out (I guess 'reserved out', technically speaking), but you should still be able to get in on Friday or Saturday. Hooray! I'll see you soon!


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