WBEZ | The Spirit Play http://www.wbez.org/tags/spirit-play Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Dueling Critics creep you out http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-21/dueling-critics-creep-you-out-93377 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-21/rockyhorror.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Remember when Halloween was a holiday for children? Well, forget it–children’s shows are way outnumbered among this year’s offerings about ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night. But there’s plenty for the spookily-inclined theatergoer.</p><p><strong>Kelly says go to...</strong></p><p>The Strange Tree Group demonstrates that it’s possible to traffic in ghosts without alluding to Halloween or descending to juvenalia. Its <a href="http://www.strangetree.org/spiritplay/"><strong><em>The Spirit Play</em></strong></a> might almost be described as a serious re-imagining of <em>Blithe Spirit</em>, opening with a seance that’s supposed to be a fraud and a joke but mysteriously produces a genuine connection with the Beyond. Like all the Group’s work, <em>The Spirit Play</em> is both charming and thought-provoking, featuring marvelous original music, a multi-layered text, and several startling effects. The performances are lovely and the evocation of 1870s Chicago in costume, setting and speech is superb. Thursday through Sunday at the DCA Storefront Theater, 66 East Randolph, through November 6. Tickets are $20, but only $15 on Thursdays.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-21/Bobby-Corn_DaNile-400x600.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 267px; height: 400px; " title="">Likewise not directly about Halloween but in keeping with the spirit of the season is <a href="http://www.theplagiarists.org/">The Plagiarists’</a> <strong><em>Caesura: A Butchery</em></strong>, which somehow throws together Shakespeare’s <em>Julius Caesar</em>, Voltaire’s <em>La Mort du Caesar</em>, and Eliot’s <em>Murder in the Cathedral</em> with a whole bunch of other&nbsp;violent and creepy sources–and nonetheless claims to be funny. Fridays and Saturdays through November 5 at RPB Rorschack, 4001 N. Ravenswood, $15.</p><p>The Cornservatory, too, seems to think horror is funny–or at least that its offering, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=126381350794950&amp;ref=nf"><strong><em>Nightmares on Lincoln Avenue 3: Calculated Ramblings of an Unsound Mind</em></strong></a>, is both. A series of funny-scary sketches use Chicago history as their bases, so expect a visit from the Devil in the White City.&nbsp; (To give this particular devil his due, the Cornservatory is also offering a Halloween show for kids, <a href="http://cornservatory.org/?page_id=1291"><strong><em>Bobby Corn and the History of Da Nile</em></strong></a>.)&nbsp; <em>Nightmares</em> . . . runs Wednesday through Saturday, and on Halloween weekend will run Sunday and Monday, too.&nbsp; 8 p.m. at the Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln Avenue, tickets $10-$15.</p><p>Isn't there anything else for the kids? There is. But though it’s sponsored by a theater, it’s not actually a show. On Saturday afternoon, October 29, Raven Theatre will present <strong><em><a href="http://www.raventheatre.com/special-events">Boo Haha!</a>,</em></strong> its “first annual Fall Family Festival,” featuring face-painting, a parade and other family-friendly activities–but no performance.&nbsp; Still it’s worth checking out, especially as admission is FREE. From 2 to 5 p.m. at the Raven, 6157 North Clark Street; children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.</p><p><strong>And Jonathan suggests...</strong></p><p>Yeah, right. Kelly says Halloween isn’t for kids anymore, but she doesn’t list the REALLY adult shows. Of course, I always go where angels fear to tread.</p><p>Leave it to the voluptuaries and ecdysiasts of Off-Off-Broadzway to come up with a burlesque-inspired Halloween sketch comedy musical revue, with the tasteful title of <a href="http://www.stage773.com/Show?id=8"><strong><em>Trick or Teets</em></strong></a>, a title which suggests milk-based sweets. It’s being performed Wednesdays only, but with a Halloween night show as well, at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont; 773-327-5252; $20.</p><p>Denizens of the South Loop may have walked by the old Harrison Hotel many, many times and been creeped out by thoughts of the horrors occurring within its increasingly seedy walls. But why leaves the details to your imagination when you can catch <a href="http://www.athenaeumtheatre.com/press-releases/SHADOWPRESSRELEASEDRAFT4.pdf"><strong><em>Between the Shadow and the Wall</em></strong></a>, set in the Harrison Hotel? This world premiere Halloween play, written and directed by Jamie-Lee Wise, concerns a scientist with contact lenses that blind the wearer to everything false. What he’s doing at the Harrison, the people he meets, and why anyone would be after his lenses is the stuff of psychological thrillers, which this play is. <em>Between the Shadow and the Wall</em> runs through Nov. 13 at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2930 N. Southport; 773-935-6860; $22-$27.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-21/rockyhorror.jpg" style="margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: right; width: 350px; height: 226px; " title="">Of course, Halloween wouldn’t be the same without Edgar Allen Poe. Then again, I suppose Halloween wouldn’t be the same without the Catholic Church, but I digress. <a href="http://www.citadeltheatre.org/poe-in-octo.html"><strong><em>Poe in Octo</em></strong></a> is an adaptation by suburban playwright MEH Lewis of several Poe stories for outdoor performances. The show is presented by Citadel Theatre at the Mellody (sic) Farm Nature Preserve in Lake Forest (350 N. Waukegan Road). The hours are family-friendly, assuming your kids are mature enough for Poe (recommended for 10 and older), with 4:30PM shows Thur.-Sat. <em>Poe in Octo</em> runs through Oct. 29; 847-735-8554; $15.</p><p>Finally, if you simply haven’t enough imagination or daring for something new and different, such as the above-listed shows, you can fall back on <a href="http://chicagorocky.com/"><strong><em>The Rocky Horror Show</em></strong></a>, offered by the brand-new Underscore Theatre at the Underground Lounge, 952 W. Newport, running Thur.-Sat. at 8PM through Oct. 29, with a special Midnight show on Sunday, Oct. 30 (which means, of course, the show will play on Halloween proper). Tickets at the door for a suggested donation of $18-$25.</p></p> Fri, 21 Oct 2011 21:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-21/dueling-critics-creep-you-out-93377 Critics theater picks; seances, the 'OVERWEIGHT, unimportant', and a 'Flowering Tree' http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-06/critics-theater-picks-seances-overweight-unimportant-and-flowering- <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-06/Natya Dance Theatre (6); photo by Amitava Sarkar.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><u><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong></u></p><p>Do your Thursday nights consist solely of waiting for Friday? Here are three other ways to help you get through the night:<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Get thee to Stage 773 (the old Theatre Building) to see Open Face Theatre’s <a href="http://www.openfacetheatre.com/Upcoming_Shows.html"><strong><em>Drupelets: Three Vonnegut Vignettes</em></strong></a>. It’s performance art, it’s Vonnegut, what could be bad? Thursdays ONLY at 8 p.m. through October 27; tickets $15.<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; If instead of American irony you’d like the double-distilled European type, check out&nbsp;Trap Door’s <a href="http://trapdoortheatre.com/current-season/"><em><strong>OVERWEIGHT, unimportant: MISSHAPE</strong></em></a>, opening tonight.&nbsp; Let the company speak for itself: “Never before has degradation, perverse loneliness, and&nbsp;mankind’s toxic ego been so funny.” Thursdays-Saturdays through November 12; tickets $20-$25, with half-price offers available. The setting along is worth the trip: go to 1655 West Cortland, look for the gap between the buildings, open a door into the service gangway between the kitchen and dining room of the restaurant next door, open another door–and resist the urge to say “Swordfish.”</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-06/seance-2.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 343px; " title=""><br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; •&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And, though this properly belongs in the Dueling Critics’ discussion of Halloween shows (coming soon), I can’t wait: The Strange Tree Group’s <a href="http://www.strangetree.org/spiritplay/"><em><strong>The Spirit Play</strong></em></a>, in previews&nbsp;tonight and opening tomorrow at the Storefront Theater on Randolph. The Trees have&nbsp;never done anything dull, mixing phenomenally detailed period production design with&nbsp;music, dance and serious text.&nbsp; The result is meta-theatrical, simultaneously revealing the tricks of the theater trade and the special form of reality it contains.&nbsp; The Spirit Play takes place in 1870s Chicago, where the idle rich dabble in seances and end up on the wrong side of the divide between reality and–whatever. Take in tonight’s final preview or tomorrow’s opening; the show runs Thursday-Sunday through November 6.&nbsp; $10-$20 with half-price offers available.</p><p><u><strong>Laura Molzahn</strong></u></p><p>And you thought it was just a place to hear schlocky music…This weekend Northerly Island hosts a dance performance, of all things—and a radically non-beer-guzzling, non-sausage-snarfing performance at that. <a href="http://www.ericamott.com/the-victory-project-trilogy/">Erica Mott presents the culmination of her <strong><em>Victory Project Trilogy</em></strong>,</a> billed as “an examination of the female body both broken and victorious.” Intrigued by conversations she had with female veterans of the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf wars, Mott started wondering whether “victory” is a gendered concept. Performance installations, text, movement, original music (mixed live), and elements of puppetry combine to “dismantle body parts and allegories that fuse and confuse patriotism and perversity.” Tonight through Sunday at the Northerly Island Visitor Center.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-06/Natya%20Dance%20Theatre%20%286%29%3B%20photo%20by%20Amitava%20Sarkar.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 386px; " title="Natya Dance Theatre (Photo by Amitava Sarkar)"></p><p><a href="http://www.natya.com/">Natya Dance Theatre</a> makes <a href="http://www.harristheaterchicago.org/events/2011-2012-season/natya-dance-theatre">its solo Harris debut this weekend, Saturday only</a>, in <strong><em>The Flowering Tree</em></strong>. The perfect show for families, it features a fairy-tale story—based on an Indian folktale about a girl who’s exploited for her ability to turn herself into a tree—complete with message and happy ending. And the bharata natyam dancing, acting, and mime take adults and youngsters alike to a rich new world, the Indian continent. A family affair, it’s choreographed by mother and daughter Hema and Krithika Rajagopalan and narrated by Krithika.</p><p><u><strong>Jonathan Abarbanel</strong></u><strong> </strong><em>liked Kelly's picks so much he repeated them...</em></p><p>Psychological realism long has dominated the American stage. Y'know, Miller and Chekhov and Neil Simon. Thank goodness Chicago troupes provide an occasional break from the mainstream, and the following two companies do so as part of their missions.Eastern European drama, where absurdism long reigned as a type of dramatic protest against Soviet-bloc rule, is at the forefront at Trap Door Theatre, currently offering the North American premiere of <em><strong>OVERWEIGHT, unimportant: MISSHAPE--A European Supper</strong></em> by late Austrian playwright Werner Schwab, directed by Steppenwolf Ensemble member Yasen Payenkov. The company declares that "never before has degradation, perverse loneliness and mankind’s toxic ego been so funny." Trained as a sculptor, Schwab churned out 16 highly-scatological black comedies in the last four years of his life, eight of which were produced before his death at 35 on New Year's Day,1994. <em>OVERWEIGHT, unimportant: MISSHAPE</em> continues at Trap Dorr (1655 W. Cortland) through Nov. 12.</p><p>Like the sachems who describe oobleck in the famous Dr. Seuss book, we can tell you what <em><strong>The Spirit Play</strong></em> at Strange Tree Group isn't, far more easily than we can say what it is. Well, it IS another world premiere by artistic director Emily Schwartz, and the clever Jimmy McDermott returns to Strange Tree to direct. The troupe calls it a play for Halloween, but just about everything the company ever has done would meet Halloween standards. Strange Tree Group consistently is one of Chicago's most imaginative companies, in both the visual and literary senses. Their work never is realistic, always appearing like some giant shadowbox come to life, and frequently exploring myths or fairytales of their own making.<em> The Spirit Play</em> continues at the Storefront Theater (62 E. Randolph) through Nov. 6.</p></p> Thu, 06 Oct 2011 14:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-06/critics-theater-picks-seances-overweight-unimportant-and-flowering-