Don't Miss List July 26-August 1: Shakespeare, Shakespeare and more Shakespeare, plus some drek

July 26, 2012

Kelly Kleiman and Jonathan Abarbanel

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Dueling Critics on Eight Forty-Eight, Friday July 27 between 9 and 10 a.m., 91.5 FM and WBEZ.org, FREE!

It’s an all-Shakespeare, all-outdoor, all-Western suburbs day! We’ll be talking about The Merchant of Venice at First Folio Theatre in Oakbrook and Richard III at Oak Park Festival Theatre in guess-where. If you miss the sturm und drang on the air, you can always hear the segment on the Eight Forty-Eight portion of the site, or here. –KK

Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, begins Sunday July 29 at 4 p.m. at the South Shore Culture Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive, FREE!

And speaking of Shakespeare, Chicago Shakespeare Theater has furnished a truck with an unfolding stage and will begin on Sunday to tour the city’s parks with its free-for-all traveling production of The Taming of the Shrew. In addition to the grand Sunday opening at the South Shore Cultural Center, the troupe will make late-afternoon visits this week to Tuley Park, Dvorak Park and Austin Town Hall Park. The peripatetic program continues through August 19 with performances every day but Thursday. To see whether the players are scheduled to descend on your neighborhood, go to chicagoshakes.com/parks. –KK

DrekFest 2012, Tuesday July 31 at 7:30 p.m., Stage Left Theatre at the ComedySportz Theatre, 929 West Belmont, tickets $15

My one true regret of the coming week is that my schedule will keep me away from DrekFest, Stage Left Theatre’s “annual, national search for America’s worst ten-minute play.” Four shows will compete at the finals on Tuesday, including Abortion Carnival of the Juggalos by 2010 Grand Loser Jake Lindquist. The audience chooses the loser and there are subordinate prizes for, e.g., Worst Stage Direction. Ask the people at the Bulwer Lytton competition: writing horrible prose is harder than it seems–though there are days when I find it quite effortless. –KK

Yo Solo Festival, Teatro Vista and Collaboraction; Flat Iron Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee (3rd Floor); 1-312-226-9633; $15; through Sept. 2

Chicago's leading Latino theater troupe offers six actor-writers in solo performances, in association with Collaboration, the innovative physical theater company now re-developing itself as a facilitator and presenter of inter-disciplinary work. Yo Solo Festival offers two artists in each of three rotating programs: Ray Andujar, Sandra Delgado, KJ Sanchez, Lisandra Tena, Juan Villa and Febronio Zatarain. Teatro Vista borrows a page from Teatro Luna, the Latina collective which first achieved success by offering solo programs written and performed by its members. Yo Solo also incorporates music and visual art in stories as varied as historic land battles in New Mexico to Colombia in the 1940s. –JA

Ah, Wilderness! Eclipse Theatre at The Athenaeum, 2936 N. Southport; 1-773-935-6875; $28; through Sept. 2

"A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou beside me, singing in the wilderness. Ah, Wilderness were Paradise enow!" This famous quote from Persian author Omar Khayyam gave Eugene O'Neill the title of his only comedy, which is a reverse-image version of his autobiographical play, Long Day's Journey Into Night. Set in similar surroundings in New London, CT (where O'Neill and his family lived), Ah, Wilderness is what O'Neill family life might have been if his father hadn't been an actor, his brother hadn't been an alcoholic whoremonger and his mother hadn't been a drug addict. But they were. Successfully produced on Broadway in 1933, Ah, Wilderness! starred George M. Cohan in a rare non-musical role (and equally rare, in a show he didn't write) as the father of the household. Ah, Wilderness has a large cast for a comedy, which may be one reason it's not often produced. The play has a warm heart and a good deal of wit, so give yourself a chance to see the flip side of America's great Gloomy Gus playwright. –JA