Spectrum, the seventh full-length concert presented by Matter Dance Company, opens May 30th at Stage 773. Spectrum is appropriately titled, as it features a variety of dance styles, from tap to hip-hop to contemporary to modern. The concert includes the work of Carisa Barreca, Katie Eberhardy, Gail Adduci Gogliotti, Stephanie Gruender, Chelsea Harkelroad, Jessica McVay, Gloria Mwez, Kristin Nelson, Jacquelyn Pavilon, Greg Poljacik, Niki Wilk Mahon, and Mandy Work. Matter Dance Company, now in it's seventh year and voted "Best Dance Company in Chicago" by the Reader five years in a row, believes "dance should be created for the audience as well as the dancers."
Spectrum runs May 30-June 1, 2013 (Thursday and Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 3pm and 8pm) at Stage 773 (1225 W Belmont).Tickets: $20 for general admission, $15 for Children, Students (with valid id), and Seniors. Tickets available through the Stage 773 Box Office at 773.327.5252.
There has literally never been a day of my life when Star Trek in some form did not exist. The original television series beat me to existence by a couple of years; I was 11 years old when the first film came out. And what I always loved about the ideas behind Star Trek was that it was a place on network television where science fiction was taken seriously, even when it got silly or opted for action over philosophy. It was that rare ground where pop culture met deep thinking, and even as a pre-teen, I understood that ideas were at work here, even if I didn't always fully comprehend the deeper meanings.
And the plain, wonderful truth is that nothing can ever take that away from me. So even though the films were hit and miss, and the franchise expanded on television to other heroes and villains and versions of our future. But none of it diluted my love for what moved me the most about being exposed again and again to the series and early movies. I know it inside out, have discussed and debated it to exhaustion, and have changed my mind dozens of times about my favorite characters, episodes, villains and conceits.
Then here comes this young upstart J.J. Abrams and his team of writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof, taking what Gene Roddenberry created and mixing it all up by throwing off timelines and such, and daring to show us in two movies where life began for the classic Enterprise crew. In a way, they could stop making Star Trek movies with Star Trek Into Darkness, because the film literally ends where the original series began. I'm sure more are coming, but to simply end here would be bordering on graceful.
Tonight from 6-8pm, join the DePaul Art Museum (935 W Fullerton) for a free artist talk with Mequitta Ahuja, whose mixed-media drawings are part of the current exhibition at DPAM, "War Baby / Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art." Exploring constructed Asian American identities in the US, "War Baby/Love Child" is a multi-faceted project that includes a book, traveling art exhibition, website and blog. The project examines if, and how, mixed heritage is expressed in the artwork of Asian Americans. Multi-media works, including video and installation, bring to light the overlap of race, war and imperialism, gender and sexuality, and citizenship and nationality.
View a trailer for the project here:
"War Baby/Love Child" is at DPAM (939 W Fullerton) from April 25-June 30. Photos courtesy of museums.depaul.edu.
Ivywild, the new play by the ever-audacious The Hypocrites, is part carnival, part Chicago history lesson. And it is a delightful 90 minutes of fact mixed with fantasy. The full title of the show is Ivywild, The True Tall Tales of Bathhouse John, written by Jay Torrence and directed by The Hypocrites' artistic director Halena Kays.
Photo courtesy of The Hypocrites. L to r: Ryan Walters (Kenna), Jay Torrence (Coughlin), Kurt Chiang (Little Walt).
When you walk into the lower-level performance space at Chopin Theatre, you know you are in for some fun. The set is a carousel with swings, made of faux antique materials; light bulbs are festooned everywhere. Platform pieces move around and provide performance space. Before the performance begins, two audience members are asked to don white pinafore dresses so they can participate in simulated rides in the amusement park. The audience, seated close to the action as usual in this space, feels like part of the show.
Torrence plays "Bathhouse John" Coughlin, the First Ward Alderman during the 1890s and early 20th century when the 20-square block area around Cermak Rd. and Michigan Ave. was the levee district, populated by saloons, brothels, gambling houses and plenty of corruption to fund it. Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna, the precinct captain and later the second First Ward alderman, is played by Ryan Walters. (Until redistricting in 1923, each Chicago ward had two aldermen.) The two amass great wealth through the levee district businesses, political corruption and general debauchery.
Each year for 79 years now The School of the Art Institute of Chicago welcomes spring with its annual student fashion show, a celebration of conceptual and cutting edge collections for us to delight in as we thaw and shed our winter pea coats. As you might imagine from an art school, many of the garments are not so much "ready to wear" as they are physical experiments, diving head first into concept via tactile investigation. Sensible Chicago-style layers were scattered throughout the collections, juxtaposed with delightful yet completely impractical gestures -- several of the collections had the models blindly stomping down the runway with their faces completely covered, often by wigs or Zentai suits... occasionally by burka-like headgear or gas masks. As in the recent past and definitely the future, a post-apocalyptic style popped up in many collections. Perhaps it's the combination of adaptable, "ready for anything" garments and forward-thinking, futuristic design that makes the End of Days such an inspiring concept. Other trends included laser-cut acrylic accessories, iridescent and metallic fabrics, and sultry veils. Imagine 60's housewife meets manic psychedelia meets S&M cyborg. In other words, the future of fashion design is anything but conservative for many SAIC fashion students -- particularly the Juniors, who are confident enough to spill out of the box and not yet concerned with having to actually sell their work. Enjoy our favorites below:
Beloved local dance company Luna Negra Dance Theater announced today that they will be ceasing operations. Founded by Eduardo Vilaro in 1999, Luna Negra celebrated Latino choreographers and voices through contemporary dance. In a press release, Board President Jorge Solis said, "Luna Negra is very proud of having provided a wonderful medium in which to celebrate and showcase Latino inspired dance in the city of Chicago. Sharing the rich Latino culture has been a source of pride and inspiration to all those involved with the company over the last 14 years. It's been tremendously difficult to come to the conclusion to cease operations, but the financial reality could not be avoided any longer."
Three weeks ago, actor/director Zach Braff launched a $2 million Kickstarter campaign to fund his upcoming self-produced film, Wish I Was Here. With a week and a half left to go until the deadline, the project is already overfunded by nearly $600,000...and this pales in comparison to the $5.7 million raked in by a Kickstarter campaign two months ago to crowdfund a movie based on TV show "Veronica Mars."
However, despite justifications from Kickstarter and Braff himself, many people have complained about these campaigns, arguing that celebrity crowdfunding takes attention and money from projects being created by visionaries with no name recognition or Hollywood connections.
So if you're into movies that blend comedy and drama (like Braff's 2004 hit, Garden State), but agree with the criticism over these campaigns, and also want the opportunity to help fund emerging filmmakers in the way Kickstarter was intended to be used, then Party Time Party Time could use your help.
If you love burlesque, comedy, and BYOB venues, Wiggle Room at The Everleigh Social Club is where you will want to spend your Friday night. Wiggle Room brings huge talent to audiences in an intimate setting-- a stage surrounded by plush velvet sofas, beds and chairs.
Produced by Michelle L'amour and Franky Vivid, Wiggle Room features the World Famous Chicago Starlets (winner "Best Burlesque Group in the World 2010" at the Burlesque Hall of Fame) and some of Chicago's best stand-up comics, including host Adam Burke. On May 17 at 10pm, the show will be concluding their current run, with plans to come back in the fall.
I talked to Michelle L'amour about her one of a kind show, and why you won't want to wait until the fall to see it.
Very often, when the history of black cinema is discussed, typically, images of a certain kind of film, specifically, "Blaxploitation," immediately come to mind. However, for a group of aspiring black filmmakers in the 70s at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television, it would become necessary to showcase a more realistic portrayal of African-American life on screen. This group, referred to as the L.A. Rebellion, embarked on a mission to show a different side of black filmmaking, with content that featured "social and cultural dynamics" as well as "black activism and militancy, everyday life and spirituality," that reflected lives in black communities everywhere.
The touring film series, L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema, hit Chicago in late April; the 12-part series, presented by Block Cinema at Northwestern University, Conversations at the Edge at the School of the Art Institute and the Film Studies Center at University of Chicago, features film screenings and shorts, as well as post Q&As and appearances by acclaimed filmmakers. Here, co-curator and Northwestern University Associate Professor, Jacqueline Stewart, talks about the significance of this cinematic series and its cultural impact.
I have genuinely mixed emotions about director and co-writer Baz Luhrmann's take on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby. On the one hand, the lush look and resplendent pageantry on display is breathtaking to the point of being difficult to believe a film of this scale and indulgence can still be made; it's the Lawrence of Arabia of shallow people. On the other hand, so much of the film looks fake, and I'm pretty sure it's not on purpose most of the time. Shot in Sidney but set largely in and around Long Island, the shots of New York City and the coastline mansions where the characters all live look like they are three-dimensional version of period postcard paintings rather than the real thing. At its worse, the film resembles a pop-up-book rendering of the Jazz Age devoid of any flesh-and-blood characters for us to really care about.
When Luhrmann last worked with Leonardo DiCaprio (who plays the titular Jay Gatsby) on their version of Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, the director actually allowed the camera to pause for while to let us live and love and become enraged with the characters. But with Gatsby, Luhrmann and cinematographer Simon Duggan have ants in their collective pants, and keep the camera swinging and swooping across epic party sequences, across water and land, car chases on paved and dirt roads, and even within small rooms to convey a sense of mayhem, where no one has the time or inclination to look to closely at what Gatsby is really all about (assuming people even know what he looks like).
A Red Orchid Theatre is presenting In a Garden by Howard Korder, a fast-moving and smartly written play in nine scenes spanning 15 years from 1989 to 2004. The play portrays the frustration of an ambitious American architect (played by Larry Grimm) proposing a design for a fictitious Middle Eastern country, which might be Iraq.
Director Lou Contey keeps the action moving well, with quick scene changes made by a stage assistant, veiled and silent -- the only woman who appears. Broadcast news snippets between scenes set the time line. The tiny Red Orchid space is the office of the minister of culture (played by Rom Borkhardor), a man enamored of American pop culture and American architects. The architect and the minister develop an uneasy friendship over the years -- but the play, which starts out like a satire with many clever lines about truth and beauty, becomes darker as the scenes progress.
The architect is so desperate to see one of his designs built that he suffers through years of ambiguity and misdirection from his client (or patron, as the minister prefers). It's never clear who is making the decisions or if in fact a decision will ever be made to build the gazebo in a peaceful garden of lemon trees so desired by the minister.
In the final scene, everything has changed: the space, the architect's professional goals and the minister's status. The gazebo was finally built, but now is gone. The lemon trees remain--to be enjoyed by the office's new occupant: an American army officer.
The play runs through Sunday, May 19, with performances at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15-30 and may be purchased online. For more information, call 312-943-8722.
Photo by Michael Brosilow courtesy of A Red Orchid Theatre.
Every Saturday at midnight, for three years and six successful seasons, audiences have flooded the iO Theater for Chicago's own premier late night talk show, "The Late Live Show" hosted by Joe Kwaczala.
Since 2010, "The Late Live Show" has offered iO's weekly audiences live late night talk show just like the pros. This small, independently-produced show has attained national recognition and welcomed such distinguished guests as Paul Feig, Danny Pudi ("Community"), Lucas Neff ("Raising Hope"), and local all-stars such as superchef Rick Bayless, Olympic speedskater Shani Davis, and best-selling author Rebecca Skloot. This sketch comedy show has become a staple in the Chicago, and has gained recognition at festivals from coast to coast. Its credits also include a writing team that has produced writers now working for such shows as "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and "The Onion News Network."
This Saturday, after three years of laughter, "The Late Live Show" will put on its last hurrah, with a "finale full of jokes, characters, interviews, sketches," and a few special surprises, as the crew looks back at the show's run. As part of their finale and 50th show, host Joe Kwaczala and his staff will welcome back returning favorites, Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larsen from the Filmspotting podcast.
Don't miss your chance to see the last run of this hilarious late night performance this Saturday, May 11 at 11:59PM. "The Late Live Show" is held in iO's Del Close Theater, 3541 N. Clark St. and is only $5 online or at the door (free for iO students).
PBS' current "Masterpiece Classic" series is set a century ago in London but has a strong Chicago connection. "Mr. Selfridge" is an eight-part series about the founder and founding of Selfridge & Co. in London. The program can be seen at 8pm Sundays on Channel 11, Chicago. PBS streams the series too, so you can catch up with most of the past episodes.
Harry Gordon Selfridge, played by Chicago actor Jeremy Piven, was born and raised in Wisconsin. He came to Chicago in 1879 and worked for Field, Leiter & Co., became a director of Marshall Field and later manager of the State Street store. He sold his interest in Field's in early 1904, bought the firm Schlesinger & Mayer (including the famous store building at State and Madison designed by Louis Sullivan) and renamed it H.G. Selfridge & Co. Selfridge sold that business to Carson, Pirie, Scott by the end of that year.