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Wednesday, May 27

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Film Wed May 27 2015

Talking 360° Video with GB's The Grid

360-degree source view
A 360° "Source" view of The Grid episode featuring the Art Institute of Chicago's MFA exhibition.

Last week, GB's short documentary series, The Grid, released three 360° videos shot with a special six-camera rig. The videos, which let you point the "camera" in any direction, were about the April 28th demonstration at the CPD headquarters, droning in the Chicago Park District and the Art Institute's recent MFA show. This week, we're talking with The Grid's Ben Kolak and Kiyomi Mino about working with this new format.

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David Schalliol / Comments (0)

Theater Tue May 26 2015

The Aristocracy Will Bring on the Revolution in AstonRep's Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Photo by Emily Schwartz

AstonRep takes on the challenge of the slashing wit and amoral sexual tensions of the French drama Les Liaisons Dangereuses, in its new production at Raven Theatre. The play, adapted by Christopher Hampton from the 1782 novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, was set in France, just before the 1789 revolution. AstonRep translates it to 1917 pre-revolutionary Russia, where the aristocracy was considered equally decadent and susceptible to revolution.

The script is notable for the scintillating dialogue and cruel sexual tricks devised by its two leading characters, the Marquise de Merteuil (Sara Pavlak McGuire) and Vicomte de Valmont (Robert Tobin), who conspire to seduce and humiliate three people for their own amusement. McGuire is a devious and beautiful trickster, able to switch from kind and helpful to evil and demonic, as the situation requires. Tobin is almost her match as Valmont, but I really wanted his character to exhibit more menace. He is almost too, dare I say, nice.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Comedy Tue May 26 2015

Amy Schumer Jazzes Up Constellation

schumer-constellation.jpgBy Stuart Ross

Jazz and comedy are old friends. Fred Armisen has made some of his best jokes sitting at a piano. "The Cosby Show" brought Dizzy Gillespie and B.B. King into our living rooms. In the '50s, when jazz still served as popular music, comedians got their first shots opening up for bands. Audiences waited for the comedians to be done so the band would get on stage.

At Constellation Thursday night, May 21, those roles were reversed. The packed house waited for the band to finish so Amy Schumer would come out. The bandleader, Jason Stein, acknowledged our patience after the second song, telling us he appreciated us listening. About Amy Schumer, his half-sister, Jason joked, "We share only a dad, folks. Just a dad."

Schumer didn't disappoint. She started from a high place and kept it up for well over an hour. Her fame has grown in recent months in anticipation of her first feature film, Trainwreck.

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Theater Fri May 22 2015

Based on a True Story @ Under the Gun Theater

Based on A True Story2.jpg

Based on a True Story is an entertaining slice of improv on Saturday nights. Under the Gun Theater hosts the show at 956 W. Newport Ave. in Wrigleyville. It's a little hidden oasis tucked among a roiling sea of zombielike frat boys roaming the sidewalk looking for a way in to any establishment that sells liquor. Busting through the drunken crowd to the haven of the second floor, everything becomes fun and light again, with the rotating cast of around 30-plus members making up for your travails.

At the top of the show, the host introduced the guest of the week, Zach Zimmerman, a new ensemble member at Under the Gun. He is an actor, writer, improviser and good sport when it comes to having his life cheerfully dissected by his colleagues. Each week the show starts with a casual interview between the host and someone from the Chicago arts community. The host delves into the guest's background, with the attentive ensemble nearby looking for a good occasion to break out into an improvised set, drawing inspiration from the guest's stories. Although they rarely depicted the literal facts of what Zimmerman described in his interview, they were quite adept at catching on to the funny and interesting bits of his tale and expanding upon them. Perhaps one of the funniest permutations of Zimmerman's interview was when the ensemble re-enacted a traditional alum parade at Princeton University, headed up by the oldest white man who avoided arrest for public intoxication by getting drunk in a box.

Director Kevin Mullaney has struck on an improv format that keeps the material fresh and the cast hopping, which makes it a great night out with friends. Upcoming guests are Susan Messing tomorrow and Ric Walker on May 30.

Based on a True Story runs through summer. Tickets can be purchased for $12 here.

Kim Campbell / Comments (0)

Circus Fri May 22 2015

Acrobatica Infiniti to Debut Nerd Circus: An Interview with Director Tana Karo


Acrobatica Infiniti Circus (aka AI Circus) will debut the first circus performance "for nerds, by nerds" in their own hometown, Chicago, next Friday, May 29. Acrobatica Infiniti is the brain child of Tana Karo, a professional circus performer who has traveled the world but makes her home in Chicago, one of the best circus cities to train in due to a thriving art scene and multiple circus schools. She has gathered more than 10 circus artists with nerd in their hearts to debut this full-length production. The show is expected to sell out quickly as it appeals to a broad audience, which is something that can't always be said about circus in general.

AI Circus is full of super heroes, fictional sci-fi characters and anyone else you might find dressed up at a cosplay event, but the difference is, these characters don't just arrive once a year to sign autographs at a convention. They are here to tell a story, perform amazing feats, and entertain their fans with a variety of amusing and thrilling acts that involve aerial stunts, contortion, juggling acrobatics and more.

I asked director Karo (everyone calls her Tank) to tell us where she got the idea for AI Circus and what she hoped to accomplish with it.

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Kim Campbell / Comments (0)

Column Fri May 22 2015

Tomorrowland, Slow West, Animals, Good Kill, I'll See You in My Dreams & In the Name of My Daughter



There can often be a wide gap between what a storyteller's intentions are and their ability to actually tell the story they set out to tell and get their points across in a way that is clear and meaningful. Clearly, there is no one right way to tell a story, and when we look at the works of writer-director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol), we find some of the most interesting, unique, and emotionally pure means of telling stories about humanity's proclivity for destruction, family, personal expression, and... whatever the Mission: Impossible films are meant to teach us (to overcome our fear of heights, perhaps?).

And it's Bird's precise and near-perfect means of storytelling that made watching his latest film, Tomorrowland, so frustrating. I know exactly what he was going for; he just doesn't quite get there. Or more specifically, he gets there through the most unnecessarily convoluted and confusing path imaginable. In the end, he takes what could have been a tremendous work about embracing intelligence, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking and turns it, instead, into something that is aggressively, agonizingly average.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Art Thu May 21 2015

Five Gamer-Made Views of Chicago


An amazingly intricate recreation of Chicago from the game Cities: Skylines is just the latest reminder that with enough time, technology, and Red Bull, there are no limits to gamers' creativity.

Here are some other great gamer-made versions of Chicago.
(Did we miss one? Post a link in the comments.)

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Mike Ewing / Comments (0)

Art Thu May 21 2015

Beauty and Brains: SAIC Fashion 2015 Roundup

Last year's show

This time of year, as we happily stow away our winter gear, many of us are reconsidering our wardrobes and cheerfully putting together ensembles from skin-bearing pieces we forgot we had over the long winter. Gone are the days of black pea coats and endless itchy wool accessories. Now we can wear what we want.

In the spirit of putting a little thought into our outfits, and in celebration of the end of a school year, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago recently staged their annual runway exhibition of fashion student work, The Walk.

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Kelly Reaves / Comments (0)

Art Wed May 20 2015

Womanness, Chicago Imagists and Emily Dickinson: A Discussion with Venezuelan Artist Jeffly Gabriela Molina

Kruger Gallery Chicago in Lakeview will be presenting the works of Venezuelan artist, Jeffly Gabriela Molina, through June 27 in the solo exhibition, [My Business Is Circumference]. Molina's intimate paintings use domestic spaces to convey a conversation between the familiar and the surreal. Like Eva Hesse, who created grid-based abstractions on paper--a reaction to the male-dominated structures in minimalism in the 1960s--Molina's pieces convey a conversation of seriality and the woman's narrative.

Influenced by female writers--specifically Emily Dickinson's letters to T.W. Higginson--Molina utilizes trompe-l'oeil to visually liken her paintings to literary works, such as stories, poems, essays and letters.

"To those first feelings that were born with me," 2015. Oil and Pencil on Linen, 36" x 48"

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S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Performance Tue May 19 2015

A Month Of... Storytelling at Stage773

Photo by Ian Spudes

A Month Of... is not alone. On any given night in Chicago, a fan of live literature can find a venue to indulge their hobby. Live lit has a huge scene in Chicago, with beloved storytellers trotting from event to recurring event weekly, and new storytellers arising from the mists frequently.

There is Write Club, the Uptown Poetry Slam and Louder Than a Mom to name a few of the more imaginative literary events. Each has its own set of rules, themes and rituals. At Write Club for instance, speakers compete against each other on a theme opposite theirs. The winner, declared by audience loudness, gets to choose what charity the proceeds of that evening's bounty will benefit.

A Month Of... has its own angle on live lit, one that seems to be evolving to fill a void, but that always involves a potluck meal and has a clear ethos. Dan Boyd, the founder of Story Luck -- the non-profit umbrella organization over several literary ventures -- explained what drives A Month Of... "The theme of friendship, and the idea that these sorts of events are a public good remain at the core of the decisions we make," he said. "Our mission statement is,'We Listen, Tell, and Create New Stories.'"

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Kim Campbell / Comments (0)

Art Tue May 19 2015

An Interview with Jaime Foster: Biophilia @ The Elephant Room Gallery

The paintings of Jaime Foster, a Chicago-based artist, are reminiscent of the waves in Lake Michigan: When the fog has drifted and the overcast sky hangs low above the horizon, the water greets the shore with a kiss-and-go. Many of her pieces are vast--both in scale and in palette. Her work acknowledges the larger landscape--the water, the mountain, and the trees--but the core of her work is in the details--the foam of the water, the snow-covered crevasse, and the vascular tissue of a leaf.

"Philias," stemming from the title of Foster's upcoming solo exhibition, Biophilia, are the attractions and positivity that human beings feel towards the natural world: organisms, species, habitats, etc. Celebrating the "love of life," Foster utilizes her brush and paint to spiritually connect with the wider world around her and expose its awe-inspiring beauty.

Elephant Room Gallery will be featuring Jaime Foster's exhibition, Biophilia, from May 29 until July 3.

"Enrapture"- 12x12 Acrylic, Watercolor, Ink and Mixed Media on paper

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S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Theater Mon May 18 2015

The Man Who Loved a One-Armed Goddess: Timeline's Inana Is the Story of Saving Artifacts in Iraq


Photos by Lara Goetsch.

Timeline Theatre's Chicago premiere of Inana by Michele Lowe is a ripped-from-the-headlines love story. And it also reminds us that Americans are sometimes the barbarians at the gates. In this case, the gates of an Iraqi museum of cultural artifacts. Kimberly Senior's direction succeeds in making this a lesson in recent history as well as a memorable personal story.

Yasin Shalid (Demetrios Troy) is chief of the Mosul Museum. He and his arranged bride Shali (Atra Asdou) have just arrived in London on their wedding trip in February 2003. The story moves back and forth between their hotel room and Mosul where Yasin organizes the packing and shipping of cultural and historical artifacts to the National Museum in Baghdad, where steel-lined vaults are buried deep in the ground. The past scenes acquaint us with the back stories of both Yasin and Shali and illustrate the worries of everyday Iraqis about the impending invasion by the U.S.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Art Sat May 16 2015

Noelle Garcia: LÁLDISH @ Ordinary Projects

ACRE, an artist residency and exhibition space, and Ordinary Projects, are presenting the artist Noelle Garcia, in her installment, LÁLDISH, as a 2014 ACRE summer resident. The exhibit opened last weekend at Mana Contemporary (2233 S. Throop, 5th floor).

The exhibition includes an exploration of parental connection, her father's history, documents, and Native American lineage. "My father died at age 64. Convicted of murder at the age of 25 (while intoxicated) my father spent the majority of his life in prison", explains Garcia in her statement concerning the specific project. A string of emails exploring her fathers life and official records allow Garcia to create a connection between her and her estranged father.


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S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Column Fri May 15 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road, Pitch Perfect 2, Lambert and Stamp, Iris, I Am Big Bird, Metalhead & The Film Critic


Mad Max: Fury Road

It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if we find out one day that writer-director George Miller contemplated, at some point in the early stages of developing what became Mad Max: Fury Road, setting the film in the world established in Mad Max, The Road Warrior and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome but taking Max Rockatansky (originally played iconically by Mel Gibson) out of the film entirely. After watching Fury Road, it's not difficult to imagine a version of the film without him, or a version of the story in which he dies halfway through, leaving the true star of the film, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), at the true and proper center of things.

In truth, former police officer Max was never the most interesting character in any of the Mad Max movies. He was the relatively stable center of these stories, around which various versions of insanity and eccentricity revolved. Even his vehicles of choice were classic cars with very little external flair. With Fury Road, Miller attempts to push Max (perhaps a little too hard) into the realm of the tormented, filling his mind and eyes with flashes of those he loved but couldn't save from death, primarily his wife and child from the first film. These visions haunt and distract him at crucial times during the Fury Road tale, but these moments seem like desperate attempts to give Max (played here by Tom Hardy) depth, which has never been particularly important before and adds very little to the mix.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Theater Thu May 14 2015

Goodman Stages Hellman's The Little Foxes: It's Really About the Economy


Photo by Liz Lauren.

Most people look at Lillian Hellman's 1939 play, The Little Foxes, as a play about a dysfunctional family battling over sex, money and property. You know, the kind that made Steppenwolf Theatre famous. But this one is being staged at Goodman Theatre and it's a sumptuous setting in every way, not one of those stories about grungy, downtrodden people.

My opinion, however, is that this is really a play about the economy. Hellman sets it in 1900 when the South was dying after the failure of Reconstruction, whose planners had hoped that the region would turn into a new industrial power. That didn't happen. (In fact, slavery was detrimental to the southern economy. It inhibited manufacturing and technological innovation as well as the growth of cities.) And Hellman wrote the play in 1939 when the impact of the Depression on people and society was much on the mind of Hellman and her audience members.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Feature Thu Apr 16 2015

From Chicago to Senegal by Way of the Drum: Interview with Local Filmmaker Mallory Sohmer

By Ana Sekler

Mallory Sohmer is a freelance documentary filmmaker from Chicago and a Columbia College alumna. She co-directed the new film, Drum Beat Journey, the story of four inner-city youth who travel to Petit Mbao, Senegal, to participate in a drumming workshop. The program used music as a vehicle to capture and connect with the young men in an engaging and original way. But this is not just a film about drumming; it's about stepping into another culture to learn about oneself.
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Steve at the Movies Fri May 22 2015

Tomorrowland, Slow West, Animals, Good Kill, I'll See You in My Dreams & In the Name of My Daughter

By Steve Prokopy

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Wed May 27 2015
UHF with Weird Al @ Music Box

Thu May 28 2015
High Fidelity Film Series @ Music Box

Thu May 28 2015
Nick Offerman @ Chicago Humanities Festival

Thu May 28 2015
7 Minutes in Purgatory @ Hideout

Thu May 28 2015
Eat to the Beat: Chicago Academy for the Arts

Fri May 29 2015
Ecos del Pacifico Dance Party @ Old Town School

Fri May 29 2015
Vanessa Bayer @ Thalia Hall

Fri May 29 2015
Danny Floyd & Jeff Prokash "2 Tambours" Opening Reception @ Cornerstone

Fri May 29 2015
Jaime Foster Solo Exhibition "Biophilia" @ Elephant Room Gallery

Fri May 29 2015
Chicago Science Fest

Fri May 29 2015
Millenium Art Festival @ Millenium Park

Sat May 30 2015
The Burden @ Music Box

Sat May 30 2015
National Tap Day Celebration @ Old Town School

Sat May 30 2015
Chicago Queer Contra Dance @ St. Paul's

Sat May 30 2015
Ballet Chicago's Illuminate @ Harris Theater

Sat May 30 2015
Obscura Day 2015

Sat May 30 2015
Millenium Art Festival @ Millenium Park

Sat May 30 2015
Chicago Science Fest

Sun May 31 2015
WAR! On Two Bunnies Eating Flowers @ The Annoyance

Sun May 31 2015
The Lives of Robert Ryan @ Music Box

Sun May 31 2015
Millenium Art Festival @ Millenium Park

Tue Jun 2 2015
Get Real: Docs at the Box @ Music Box Theatre

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A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
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