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Wednesday, March 4

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Contest Wed Mar 04 2015

Win Tickets to See Hannibal Buress April 9

hannibalburess_cc.jpgHannibal Buress, the Chicago standup comic who's gone on to national fame on such shows as "SNL," "30 Rock" and "Broad City," is coming home on his Comedy Camisado tour for a show at Chicago Theatre on April 9.

Tickets are on sale now via TicketMaster and run $35 to $55 -- but right here, right now, you could win a pair of tickets to the show! Just email with the subject line "Comedy Comisado" and include your name and phone number. We'll choose a winner at 5pm on Thursday, March 6.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Theater Mon Mar 02 2015

Steppenwolf's This Is Modern Art Raises Provocative Questions About Place of Art in Society


Photo by Michael Courier.

This Is Modern Art (based on true events) is a provocative play intended for a "young adult" audience that raises philosophical and political questions that are already generating heated discussions among theatergoers of all ages. Steppenwolf's new production, written by Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval, tells the story of a crew of graffiti writers who take a big leap and create a "piece" that grabs the attention of the whole city.

Director Lisa Portes deftly orchestrates the four actors in the events that lead up to their big score: a 50-foot mural on the east wall of the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. (The event actually happened in February 2010.)

Continue reading this entry »

Nancy Bishop / Comments (1)

Column Fri Feb 27 2015

Focus, The Lazarus Effect, What We Do in the Shadows, Wild Tales, Ballet 422, Bluebird & Everly



Since I saw The Sting for the first time, the con artist movie has basically been ruined for me, because I learned that in any film about these tricksters, you have to assume that everyone is lying. And if you're looking for it hard enough, odds are you'll find the lie early enough that when the con is finally funny revealed, it's anticlimactic. That's not to say there haven't been dozens of really enjoyable films about flim-flam men and women, but often it's the characters — and not the the con itself — who are the most interesting part of these films. And this is certainly the case for Focus, the latest from Will Smith who has been noticeably absent from movies since Another Earth tanked two years ago (unless you count his cameo in last year's Winter's Tale, which I never will).

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Theater Fri Feb 27 2015

Chicago High Schoolers to Compete in August Wilson Monologue Finals March 10


The August Wilson Monologue Competition finals for Chicago high school students is set for 6pm Tuesday, March 10, at the Goodman Theatre. Twenty finalists will compete by performing a 2-3 minute monologue of their choosing from one of the 10 plays in the late playwright's Century Cycle. Three winners will receive cash prizes ($500 for first place, $250 for second and $100 for third) plus expense-paid trips to compete in the national finals in New York on May 5.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Theater Tue Feb 24 2015

Unlikely Romance Blossoms in Norma and the Maniac at The Orchard

Photo by Stephanie Vera.

It's May and December. Lake vs. ocean. Heavy metal or country. It's an unlikely romance between two losers who turn out to be winners in The Orchard Theatre's new play, Norma and the Maniac, produced in association with Redtwist Theatre.

The first full-length work by playwright Ray Nelson, the eight-scene, 80-minute, play is the story of how two lonely people meet by accident (it's not meet cute) and go off on a cross-country adventure that ends well, beyond all odds. The dialog is fast, witty and sometimes insightful -- and the two actors convince us they are enemies, then friends, then lovers.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (2)

Art Mon Feb 23 2015

Doris Salcedo: Where Lives are More Than Data @ The Museum of Contemporary Art


The commotion (and borderline hysteria) over the recent David Bowie exhibition [PDF] at the Museum of Contemporary Art in January has ceased -- the elaborate costumes and platform boots have bid adieu to Chicago and are traveling across the ocean into another realm of dreaminess and glamor.

The aura, subsequently, has changed. Visually powerful, elegantly arranged, and rich with conversation, the museum has welcomed sculptor Doris Salcedo in a retrospective that spans her 30-year career. The Colombian artist's exhibition opened Feb. 21 and will be on view until May 24.

Salcedo, a public-works artist, has transformed the fourth floor of the MCA into an installation that urges viewers and visitors to slow down, meditate, and remember the lives that she chooses to commemorate. Each death and each disaster draws Salcedo into a creative process involving found objects, every-day materials, and findings from the earth. While her works are created due to specific events, each piece acknowledges universal loss and bereavement. Salcedo urges viewers to never forget; the reminder is crucial.

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S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Column Fri Feb 20 2015

McFarland USA, Hot Tub Time Machine 2, The DUFF, The Last Five Years & Song of the Sea


McFarland USA

This is actually not a bad film, but if you're someone who finds themselves offended by stories about minorities told through the filter of a white leading character, you better run in the other direction. The sad truth of the movie industry is that many such stories would never get told without higher-profile white actors at the center of them, and it just so happens that a white man named Jim White (played here by Kevin Costner) was at the heart of this particular true-life story of a group of Latino high school students who become contenders in the California's cross country championship.

There's something about the way Disney does sports films (Remember the Titans, The Rookie, Secretariat, Invincible, Miracle) that almost always seems to work. I'm talking about the ones that aren't made for children, so sorry Mighty Ducks and Air Bud franchises. Granted, the titles aren't especially inspired, but they find these true stories and breathe some life into them with top-notch actors and reliable directors. In the case of McFarland USA, the unusual choice to direct is New Zealand native Niki Caro (Whale Rider, North Country), who has shown a real talent for capturing the way Americans often unfairly pre-judge and treat each other in small communities — a perfect trait for a story like this.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Event Wed Feb 18 2015

Inside/Within & VIA Publication @ Threewalls Gallery

ILikeYourWork.jpgI'll have to admit, I'm a little -- okay more than a little -- immersed in the online archive, Inside/Within. I won't go into specifics about how sleek their website is, or how they sometimes incorporate .gifs into interview segments, but I will go into how important I think studio visits are for eager fan-folk (like myself) and how, similarly, they are beneficial for the artists themselves. In a nutshell, Inside/Within is an online archive that visits, absorbs and features Chicago artists in their creative spaces. Exposing an artist's creative space allows for other artists, or interested peers, to gain insight into what goes on behind the scenes. The website has a pretty large collection of captivating interviews and close-ups of studio practice. For both reader and artist, the process enables creative growth and the ability to share ideas and artistic practice.

So, of course, excitement and dedication forced me outside into the fresh snow and black ice when I heard that VIA Publication and Inside/Within were hosting an event at Threewalls called "I Like Your Work."

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S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Performance Tue Feb 17 2015

Circuscope Expands Our Worldview with Circus, Music & Theater

By Kim Campbell


Photographs by Cole Simon and Sylvia Hernandez DeStasi.

By mid-February, as winter rages in Chicago, people tend to turn inward for solace. When the days are a blur of ice and snow, we look inside for color and life. We often take more pictures of the food we cook, and rejoice in tiny cups of espresso or cat videos. So it's no wonder that the folks at the Actors Gymnasium have gone a step further, focusing on the microscopically small and elevating it to a full blown contemporary circus production that will warm audiences until the thaw begins.

Circuscope verges on the brilliant by embracing this tiny world. It begins with a large eyeball on a movie screen looking through a microscope lens at the world of amoebas and other improbable organisms. Algae, tardigrades, protozoa, zooplankton, bacteria and viruses all vie for our attention, using everything they have, and what they have are generally alien appendages, like flagellum and cilia. Their oddness is captivating when combined with aerial, tumbling and contortion circus skills, transporting the imagination and the art form to a fresh realm.

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A/C / Comments (0)

Art Fri Feb 13 2015

Underground Unseen Opening Reception & Magazine Launch @ FLATS Studio

Underground Unseen is the first exhibition of 2015 for FLATS Studio, a gallery space located in Uptown. FLATS strives to "develop, enhance, and engage" their neighborhood community by channeling the arts and representing Chicago creatives. The studios provide housing for residents who apply, as well as gallery spaces and exhibition venues.


On Feb. 20, FLATS will be hosting Underground Unseen from 6 to 10pm at 1050 W. Wilson Ave. The night consists of visual arts, performance, and sound, as well as the launch of the magazine publication, VAM, a new production which focuses and celebrates emerging artists in the Chicago area. The exhibition will feature photographer Todd Diederich, video artist Mikhail Khokhlov, textile artist Kristi O'Meara, street artist Ali6, and Allison Van Pelt. Additionally, Owen Bones will be DJing for the night and Antibody Corp will be performing at 8pm.

Koval Distillery and Lakeshore Beverages will be serving drinks for free throughout the night. Although there is no charge to enter the gallery, they do ask that attendees RSVP to with the number of guests attending.

S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Column Fri Feb 13 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service, Fifty Shades of Grey, Timbuktu, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus & Young Bodies Heal Quickly


Kingsman: The Secret Service

A film that manages to mildly poke fun at the British spy genre while still embracing its tropes and succeeding at being a terrific action work all at once, Kingsman: The Secret Service begins as a recruitment story and becomes a full-blown save-the-world adventure, all while its stars look good doing it.

From the Mark Millar (Kick-Ass) comic book series and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, X-Men: First Class and, yes, Kick-Ass), Kingsman lets you think for a time that it's the story of a Harry Hart, aka Galahad (Colin Firth), an esteemed member of spy organization the Kingsman, whose accomplishments are so hush-hush that no one even knows the exist. On that rare occasion when a member is killed, each Kingman recruits a young candidate to replace, and the handful of young men and women enter into a series of trials until one is left. Galahad selects Eggsy (relative newcomer Taron Egerton), something of a punk kid but also the son of a former Kingman who was a true friend of Galahad's.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Comedy Wed Feb 11 2015

HIJINKSfest at iO Theater: On Comedy & the Pursuit of the Extreme

To what end does one seek to be edgy and experimental in comedy today, in this age of abandon? It is a question recently posed, albeit indirectly, by sketch comedy group Hijinks when they attempted to pull off the herculean effort that was HIJINKSfest: 12 hours of original sketch comedy shows, performed by a cast of five, in ceaseless succession with minimal breaks in between.

It might come as a surprise to hear that each show making up the behemoth was a worthy piece of comedy — some transcendent, others raw, with moments interspersed that were at times playful, disgusting, inspiring, shocking, and even touching.

While they may seem unlikely analogues, comedy has many similarities to painting as an artform. Both serve to mirror and heighten reality with the purpose of eliciting a reaction, whether surprise, delight or disgust. In the 20th century, as artists struggled to understand life after the chasm carved out by two World Wars, they began to deconstruct the formalism of the academies, exploring and transgressing into the realms of surrealism. The same is true for comedy, with experimental forms pushing boundaries of taste and tradition.

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Benjamin Cannon / Comments (0)

Theater Tue Feb 10 2015

An Artiste and Two Boys Create Magic in Tuta Theatre's Music Hall

Tuta musichall-lapenna.jpg
Photo by Anthony La Penna.

A bare stage. There's only a curtain, a stool, a pair of high-heeled shoes, and a trunk. But here three actors create a magical environment, an environment of beauty and bleakness about their fading careers as cabaret performers: The Artiste (gracefully played by Jeffrey Binder) and two Boys, her accompanists and dancers, played by Michael Doonan as First Boy and Darren Hill as Second Boy. (The word Boy is used in French, designating a supporting dancer or singer in a music hall routine.)

Tuta Theatre Chicago is staging Jean-Luc Lagarce's Music Hall at the Den Theatre through March 8. Then it goes to New York, where it will be mounted at 59E59, a slightly-off-Broadway house, from March 25 through April 12. Director Zeljko Djukic has created a charming, touching 85-minute show (that actually could have lost about 10 minutes and been even more charming and touching).

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Performance Tue Feb 10 2015

Peking Acrobats Thrill Audience at Harris Theater

By Kim Campbell

Peking Acrobats
Photo by Nadea Ross.

The Peking Acrobats displayed their 2000-year old tradition of acrobatics, steeped in ritual, highlighting 12 powerful and precise acts for two nights last weekend at the Harris Theater. The show, showcasing Chinese instruments and laser lightshow technology, was a powerful performance, rich in color, textures, surprises and lively family fun.

The show began with a traditional piece meant to dispel bad luck and display courage, strength and happiness called the Lion Dance. The two colorful lions behaved like dogs as they fetched balls, wagged their tails and scratched their heads, tongues lolling comically. They were accompanied by huge dagu drums manned by drummers keeping a fierce beat that built in intensity as the lions became more adventurous, eventually having a baby lion, and most notably performing acrobatic stunts on the rolla bolla.

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A/C / Comments (0)

Column Fri Feb 06 2015

Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Red Army & Girlhood


Jupiter Ascending

I don't know if I've always felt this way, but I'm certain that of late I am most forcefully drawn to science fiction, fantasy and horror that does a thorough and impressive job of world building. I'm not just talking about building CG environments; I mean establishing a logic, rules and other elements that filmmakers use to nest their story — however wacky — and take me someplace that doesn't feel wholly derivative and show me something that maybe I've never seen, or at least never seen does quite like they do it. Whether they are working in worlds built from other source material (Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas) or ones they built from scratch (The Matrix trilogy and now Jupiter Ascending), The Wachowskis — Chicago's own Lana and Andy — are at the top of their game of dropping us into a place and situation and having us learn where we are and what can happen as we go. And it always sucks me in completely and makes me want to live there forever.

With Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowskis are actually using a modified version of the Matrix template. For reasons we don't always understand, everybody wants to get their hands on a young woman of Russian descent named Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), whose greatest accomplishment to date is making a little money working with her mother as a cleaning lady. Her father died when she was very young, but somehow it is discovered that Jupiter is the living reincarnation of a long-dead alien queen, whose children — Balem (current Oscar-nominee Eddie Redmayne), Titus (Douglas Booth), and Kalique (Tuppance Middleton) — are in a bitter squabble over who will run certain corners of the universe.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Art Mon Feb 23 2015

Doris Salcedo: Where Lives are More Than Data @ The Museum of Contemporary Art

By S. Nicole Lane

Visually powerful, elegantly arranged, and rich with conversation, the MCA has welcomed sculptor Doris Salcedo in a retrospective that spans her 30-year career.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Feb 27 2015

Focus, The Lazarus Effect, What We Do in the Shadows, Wild Tales, Ballet 422, Bluebird & Everly

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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Wed Mar 4 2015
Art Shay, Tony Fitzpatrick & Dmitry Samarov @ Hideout

Wed Mar 4 2015
Chicago Urbanists @ Green Door Tavern

Thu Mar 5 2015
The School Project: Restoring Justice @ North Lawndale College Prep

Fri Mar 6 2015
Sex Worker Art Show

Fri Mar 6 2015
Saving Mes Aynak (Screening) @ Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art

Fri Mar 6 2015
European Union Film Festival

Sat Mar 7 2015
Apollo Chorus Concert @ Rockefeller Chapel

Sat Mar 7 2015
Intolerance @ Logan Center for the Arts

Sat Mar 7 2015
Wizard World Fan Fest

Sun Mar 8 2015
Daisies @ Doc Films

Sun Mar 8 2015
Wizard World Fan Fest

Mon Mar 9 2015
Love Battles @ Doc Films

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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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Editor: LaShawn Williams,
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