This weekend, our critics look ahead, not only at Chicago theater, but to the Tony Awards on Sunday.
So here’s something weird: there are shows opening tonight, and shows opening on Saturday and Sunday, but nothing opening on Friday. Must be time to go to a nice air-conditioned movie.
But come Saturday night celebrate summer at the season opener of the Oak Park Festival Theatre, which is presenting its own single-evening adaptation of Henry IV Parts I and II, entitled The History of Henry the Fourth. Weather permitting, having a picnic in Austin Gardens and then watching Prince Hal and his buddy Falstaff in the company of erudite rabbits and squirrels is a tradition more honored in the observance.
And then Sunday night the theatrical spotlight shifts from Chicago to New York, only to land right back on Chicago again. In addition to Lookingglass’s Best Regional Theater Award (” … and, in a sop to the provinces, ten seconds’ worth of recognition on national tv!”), there’s the nomination of Steppenwolf’s Anna D. Shapiro for direction of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s new place, The Mother****er with the Hat. I pray she wins, not only because she needs a mate for the lonely statue she won for directing August Osage County but because someone will have to manage to say the name of the show without sparking a nationwide blackout of the broadcast. Enjoy!
Here’s a brain-twister: how do you erase a dance? Zephyr artistic director Michelle Kranicke has been trying for the last few years—though she once confessed it’s “more about smearing than erasing.” I described the first work in her trilogy as giving “a ghostly sense of déjà vu in its simple, pared movements and formations,” and this weekend “Unmaking” unveils movement sketches from the trilogy’s last piece, Kranicke’s FADE. Self-professed “science geek” Emily Stein, the troupe’s associate director, offers the final work in her bonsai series.
Links Hall’s weeklong dance improv festival starts Sunday, when you can see a free event (registration required), Kinetic Sculptures, that begins at 2:30 with a talk by artists Jeff Carter and Christopher Furman about the installations they’ve created in IIT’s Mies-designed Crown Hall. At 3:30 the sculptures will be “activated” by danced improvisations. Or you can get all sweaty and entangled yourself at a contact jam—the first of many opportunities to make it up as you go along—at Links on Sunday, 11:30 AM.
Some years ago, on 848, I had to review the play Shopping and F***ing. I spake thusly: “I can’t say the name of this play on the air. It’s Shopping and a word that starts with F, ends with G and has ‘uckin’ in the middle.” It worked.
As for this weekend, yes, it will be fun to watch Lookingglass briefly bask in national glory on the Tony Awards—thanks to the American Theatre Critics Association, by the way, which recommends the recipient in this category. But it MIGHT be more fun actually to see Lookingglass in action as they open yet another world premiere Saturday night, The Last Act of Lilka Kadison. It’s a dramatic biography inspired by the life and work of Johanna Cooper, who escaped Poland just before the Nazi take-over in 1939 and came to America. It runs through July 24.
Also, in its second repertory presentation within three months, Steppenwolf Theatre Company follows up its early-spring Garage Rep with Next Up: three productions showcasing young Chicago design and directing talent, presented in collaboration with Northwestern University’s MFA programs in Direction and Design. Also presented in the Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, the three productions playing in rotation are Where We’re Born by Lucy Thurber, Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks and Animals Out of Paper by Rajiv Joseph. Next Up runs through June 19.