Saturday, June 1, 2019

REVIEW: Next Door and Helga Through Sunday at Physical Theater Festival Chicago at Stage 773 Through June 9, 2019

Full Body Physical Theatre Takes Audience on a Journey that Spans Decades and Continents

Out of Balanz From Copenhagen, Denmark

REVIEW:
by bonnie kenaz-mara

Next Door and Helga are a great pairing at Physical Theater Festival Chicago at Stage 773. Actors in both shows embody characters from youth, young adulthood, middle age, and the final, elderly years, in a stunning transformation. These actors are masters of comedic timing, amazing physical feats, and facial expressions that are beyond funny.

Henni Kervinen in Helga – the life of a diva extraordinare (Finland)


Next Door by Out of Balanz From Copenhagen, Denmark


Next Door celebrates interconnectedness and the friendships of neighbors from 10 year old boys to adults. Expect exciting sword fights, a harrowing adventure at sea, skateboarding, biking, memorabilia, and an epic death scene. With a dynamic duo from Finland and Denmark, Next Door is a hilarious exploration of the universal nature of human connections and missed connections, as well as a fun glimpse into Nordic life. This is physical, comedic storytelling at its best. 



Delightful diva in decline, Helga is performed to perfection by Finnish circus artist Henni Kervinen. I want to hang out with this booze swilling, espresso lovin' curmudgeon, and hear no nonsense wisdom and tales of her glory days. This act includes a full on flashback trapeze act and burlesque tease from a Helga at the height of her youth as well as the same act, repeated in present day. Expect aerial arts, early parenthood, the cat lady who raised a beast, prepping for company and an interesting array of costume choices.


We adored these celebrations of life experience, characters, and everyday moments from the mundane to the monumental. Highly recommended. 

Here at ChiIL Mama, we're huge, lifelong fans of circus arts and physical comedy in the art of storytelling on stage. We're thrilled to be catching 10 days of world class physical theatre right here in Chicago at Physical Fest at Stage 773 and Chopin Theatre. Check out the full schedule and show details here: http://www.chiilmama.com/2019/05/fest-alert-physical-theater-festival.html


Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she has published frequently since 2008: ChiILLiveShows.com (adult) & ChiILMama.com (family friendly). 



Next Door by Multi-award winning 
Danish company Out of Balanz

By Out of Balanz
From Copenhagen, Denmark
Friday, May 31 at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 1 at 9 p.m., Sunday,
June 2 at 2 p.m.
60 minutes
For ages 12 and up

*Parents: Sunday, June 2, 2 p.m. is Sitter Sunday. Come for the show, teaching staff from Willow Tree Child Care will watch your kids, ages potty trained and up. See website for details.


Multi-award winning Danish company Out of Balanz returns to Chicago with their critically acclaimed Next Door. The stand-out smash hit of Chicago’s first Physical Theater Festival in 2014 is back by popular demand to re-celebrate physical comedy, active imaginations and the importance of relationships.


When Ivan Hansen’s neighbor passes away suddenly, Ivan realizes he doesn’t know anything about him. In Next Door, intimate storytelling and high-octane physical theater explore what it is that really connects us.

Next Door captured First Prize and Audience Prize at the Birmingham European Theatre Festival 2013 and Best Male Performers at Kosovo’s Skena Up International Festival. The Copenhagen Post called it “imaginative and groundbreaking…an unforgettable journey into the human psyche.” The Scotsman found it “irresistible.”


Founded in 2006, Out of Balanz is an award-winning international theater ensemble based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Recognized for their highly collaborative creative process and for producing original work rich in spectacle and adventurous in form, Out of Balanz has created over a dozen original works and toured to 16 different countries in Europe, North America and Asia (including such venues as The John Houseman Theatre off-Broadway, The Barbican in London and at the first-ever Physical Theater Festival Chicago.) The company was named one of the 13 most innovative physical theater companies in the world, alongside such prestigious companies as The SITI Company and DV8, by backstage.com. For more, visit outofbalanz.org.




Henni Kervinen in 
Helga – the life of a diva extraordinare (Finland)

Helga – life of a diva extraordinaire
By Henni Kervinen, directed by Jenni Kallo
From Finland
Friday, May 31 at 9 p.m.; Saturday, June 1 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, June 2 at 5 p.m.
60 minutes
For ages 10 and up


A new cabaret diva extraordinaire is here! Poignant, melancholy mime, clowning circus skills and physical comedy make up the wordless story of Helga. Tragedy and comedy meet as Helga invites us into her world, from the mundane details of her day to the fabulous memories of her life.

Helga is skillfully performed by Finnish circus artist Henni Kervinen and directed by Jenni Kallo, Artistic Director of the renowned Kallo Collective (Only Bones, Edinburgh Fringe 2016). LapinKansa.fi called Helga 'absurd comedy and sparkling wit…', with an Edinburgh Fringe Fest fan hitting the nail on the head with "only the Finns can make humor out of melancholy as fabulously as this.” For more, visit kallocollective.com.

Note: Helga is silent, no interpreter needed, making it appropriate for audiences that are deaf or hard of hearing.


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

PHYSICAL THEATER FESTIVAL CHICAGO GROWS TO A 10-DAY EVENT WITH NEW FORMS OF THEATER FROM AROUND THE WORLD, 
MAY 31-JUNE 9 AT STAGE 773 


Check out the full Physical Festival schedule and show details here: http://www.chiilmama.com/2019/05/fest-alert-physical-theater-festival.html

Thursday, May 30, 2019

ART BEAT: MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CHICAGO APPOINTS CARLA ACEVEDO-YATES NEW CURATOR

MCA Welcomes Carla Acevedo-Yates 
as New Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator 

Michael Darling, Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, announced today that internationally recognized curator and scholar of Caribbean and Latin American art Carla Acevedo-Yates has been appointed the new Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the MCA. Acevedo-Yates was most recently the Associate Curator at Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. She will assume her new position at the MCA on July 1, 2019.



Image: Carla Acevedo-Yates. Photo courtesy of Eat Pomegranate Photography.

"Carla's curatorial interests and goals have an incredible overlap with the ambitions of the museum's, which makes her a perfect addition to our team," says Michael Darling. "Carla is well-versed and well-traveled throughout Latin America which will allow us to continue to build bridges to the artistic communities there. It was also her passion for Caribbean art, and that of Puerto Rico in particular, that was exciting to me because of the large Puerto Rican community in Chicago. I feel that she will be a champion and advocate for artists from that region that we still know too little about. Carla will be a great new asset to the creative community of Chicago."

Carla Acevedo-Yates is committed to context-responsive curating and working with artists living in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the US of Latin American descent. She is interested in understanding the connections and shared histories between these artistic communities, and engaging in conversations about how art and artists address the urgent issues of today. She says, "I am honored to be joining the talented team at the MCA as the Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator. With their commitment to both local and international artists, and interdisciplinary inquiry, Director Madeleine Grynsztejn and Michael Darling have made the MCA into one of the most influential cultural institutions in the world. The MCA consistently features the most relevant contemporary voices of our time, and I look forward to contributing to that legacy. Chicago is a vibrant city with a rich and diverse cultural history, and I am excited to connect with the many communities that the museum serves."

Carla Acevedo-Yates, who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is an international curator, researcher, and art critic working across Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. As Associate Curator at MSU's Broad Art Museum, Acevedo-Yates organized solo exhibitions of new work by Johanna Unzueta, Claudia Peña Salinas, Jesús "Bubu" Negrón, Duane Linklater, and Scott Hocking. She recently organized the major exhibition The Edge of Things: Dissident Art under Repressive Regimes, which explores the climate of fear and censorship in experimental artworks from the 1960s through the late 1980s, and Fiction of a Production, an exhibition of work by Argentinian conceptual art pioneer David Lamelas. She also co-curated Michigan Stories: Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw.

She earned her MA in Curatorial Studies and Contemporary Art from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, where she received the Ramapo Curatorial Prize, and a BA in Spanish and Latin American Cultures from Barnard College, where she received the Clara Schifrin Memorial Spanish Prize in Poetry. In 2015, she was awarded a Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for an article on Cuban painter Zilia Sánchez. She is the author of numerous catalogue essays and her writing has appeared in publications such as Art Agenda, Small Axe: A Caribbean Platform for Criticism, Artpulse, La Tempestad, Mousse, and South as a State of Mind. She was a curatorial resident at Espaço Fonte in Recife, Brazil, in 2014 and R.I.C. in Santiago, Chile, in 2015.

FREE THEATRE: Barrel of Monkeys’ THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA Tours Chicago Neighborhoods This Summer through Night Out in The Parks

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
FAMILY FRIENDLY FUN

Barrel of Monkeys’ 
THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA

Tours Chicago Neighborhoods This Summer through Night Out in The Parks

An Original Sketch Show that is 
Written by Kids, Performed by Grownups, 
and Enjoyed by Humans

(left to right) Company members Kaylyn Carter, Nic Park, Carly Wicks, Brandon Cloyd and Bryan Bosque perform “IRS Moles” in Barrel of Monkeys’ revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA. Photo by Evan Hanover.

Here at ChiIL Mama & ChiIL Live Shows, we've been fans of these silly simians for well over a decade. Whether you're long time fans or have never seen Barrel of Monkeys (BOM) before, now's your chance to catch them for FREE through the Chicago Park District’s Night Out In The Parks initiative. Highly recommended hilarity. 

What's more fun than a Barrel of Monkeys? Free BOM shows in the parks!

Barrel of Monkeys is bringing its much-lauded sketch show THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA to audiences across the city this summer for a series of free performances through the Chicago Park District’s Night Out In The Parks initiative. The stories featured in THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA are written by Chicago elementary school students, adapted for the stage and performed by Barrel of Monkeys company members and directed by Artistic Director Brandon Cloyd. No reservations necessary. For additional information, visit www.barrelofmonkeys.org.

(left to right) Company members Carly Wicks, Gabriella Hirsch, Nic Park and Rachel Wilson perform “Glacier Living with Sharks” in Barrel of Monkeys’ revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA. Photo by Evan Hanover.

Now in its eighteenth year, THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA features adaptations of stories written during Barrel of Monkeys’ creative writing residencies in Chicago elementary schools. BOM’s ensemble of professional actors, comedians and musicians bring the young authors’ stories to life as raucous sketches, songs and movement pieces, performing first for students in their schools and then for the public. These stories – from hilarious dialogues between unlikely characters to poignant pleas for social change – resonate with adults while celebrating the imaginations of young people. 

(pictured) Company member Laura McKenzie performs “Piranhas Should Not Exist” in Barrel of Monkeys’ revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA. Photo by Beth Bullock Photography.

Performance Schedule:


Thursday, June 27 at 5:30 pm
Gladstone Park, 5421 N. Menard Ave.

Friday, June 28 at 6 pm
Oriole Park, 5430 N. Olcott Ave.

Tuesday, July 9 at 5 pm
McKiernan Park, 10714 S. Sawyer Ave.


Monday, July 15 at 10 am
Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens, 1801 S. Indiana Ave.

Tuesday, July 23 at 5 pm
Mann Park, 3035 E. 130th St.


Night Out in the Parks brings more than 2,000 cultural events to parks in Chicago's neighborhoods throughout the year.  Chicagoans and visitors alike, enjoy the breadth of world-class events in every one of the city's 77 community areas and all 50 wards.  

In its seventh year, the 2019 Night Out in the Parks series brings more than 1,200 events to neighborhood parks this summer, making community parks safe havens and hubs of cultural activity.  From theater performances and concerts to community workshops, nature-based programs, dance performances, festivals, and more, there is something for everyone happening in the parks!  


(left to right) Company members Gabriella Hirsch, Bryan Bosque and Kaylyn Carter perform “The Queen with No Friends” in Barrel of Monkeys’ revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA. Photo by Evan Hanover.



About the Director
Brandon Cloyd joined Barrel of Monkeys in 2007 and has been deeply involved in many facets of the company ever since. Prior to joining BOM, Brandon graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a minor in Business Institutions. Within BOM, Brandon has served as an actor, teaching artist, lead teacher, a member of Teacher Corps, as well as directing shows for schools and public performances of That's Weird, Grandma. Before becoming the company’s Artistic Director in September 2017, Brandon served as BOM After-School Program Coordinator at Loyola Park from 2014-2016 and Program Director from 2016-2017. Outside of Barrel of Monkeys, he worked as the Associate Director of Camp Echo, where he has spent 13 summers managing campers and staff at a co-ed sleep away camp in Upstate New York. Brandon has worked with other theatre companies including Urban Theatre Company, American Theater Company, Filament Theatre, InGen Productions, ACLE's Teatrino in Italy and Purple Crayon Players at Northwestern University. Brandon recently joined the Board of Directors for the League of Chicago Theatres.


(left to right) Company members Ashley Bland, Raquel Torre, Brandon Cloyd and Oly Oxinfry perform “Dear Purse Landlord” in Barrel of Monkeys’ revue THAT’S WEIRD, GRANDMA. Photo by Evan Hanover.


About Barrel of Monkeys

Since Barrel of Monkeys’ inception in 1997, its teaching artists have served more than 60 Chicago Public Schools. Over 15,000 elementary school students have participated in the Barrel of Monkeys programs, which aim to build students' writing skills, improve self-esteem, and instill confidence in their ideas and abilities.

Barrel of Monkeys is sponsored in part by Wintrust Financial, Allscripts, Inc., Ernst and Young and Punchkick Interactive. It receives generous support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency; the National Endowment for the Arts; a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; the Chicago Community Trust; Crown Family Philanthropies; Alphawood Foundation of Chicago; the Maurice R. and Meta G. Gross Foundation; Polk Bros Foundation; the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; the Robert and Isabelle Bass Foundation, Inc.; The Saints; The Topfer Family Foundation, and many other generous individuals and foundations. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

SAVE THE DATES: THE HOUSE THEATRE OF CHICAGO ANNOUNCES THE 18TH SEASON OF ORIGINAL PLAYS

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

THE HOUSE THEATRE OF CHICAGO ANNOUNCES THE 18TH SEASON OF ORIGINAL PLAYS 
FEATURING THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HIT HOLIDAY PRODUCTION, 
THE NUTCRACKER, 
A WORLD PREMIERE AND THE CONTINUED SUCCESSFUL OPEN RUN OF 
THE MAGIC PARLOUR



The House Theatre of Chicago is proud to announce its productions for the 18th season. The 2019 – 2020 Season will include the 10th anniversary production of The House’s original ballet-free production of The Nutcracker, November 7 – December 29; the world-premiere of Brett Neveu’s Verböten, January 16 – March 8, 2020; Shakespeare’s Henry V, directed by The House’s Artistic Director Nathan Allen, March 19 – May 10, 2020. The Magic Parlour, featuring magician Dennis Watkins, will continue its open run at The Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel. Subscriptions and Tickets may be purchased by calling (773) 769-3832 or by visiting www.thehousetheatre.com.   

Memberships for the 18th season are now available. To purchase memberships or for more information, please visit www.thehousetheatre.com or call the box office at (773) 769-3832. Single tickets for Season 18 productions go on sale starting August 1.

The House’s 18th Season is supported by The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince. ComEd is the Official Lighting Sponsor of The House Theatre of Chicago. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

The House Theatre of Chicago’s 18th Season includes:

The Nutcracker
10th Anniversary Production
Created by Company Members Jake Minton, Phillip Klapperich, Kevin O'Donnell, and Tommy Rapley
Based on the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann
Direction and Choreography by Company Member Tommy Rapley

November 7 – December 29
PRESS OPENING: Friday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Chopin Upstairs Theatre, 1543 W. Division Street 

Celebrating a full decade of making holiday memories with more than 30,000 audience members, The House brings this wholly original, ballet-free show back for its 10th Anniversary production. Appearing again at the Chopin Theatre, and featuring all new puppets, The Nutcracker is fast-paced, beautifully choreographed, family-friendly, and moving, even for those of us that might be on the Grinch’s side from time to time.

This fantastical expansion of the holiday classic centers on young Clara’s journey to save Christmas in the face of grief. With the help of a magical nutcracker, the brave girl risks the darkness, fights the Rat King, and saves her family. A modern holiday tradition weaving together riveting dialogue, astonishing puppetry, original songs, this spellbinding spectacle tells a heartwarming, darkly moving story of magic and hope—a fun outing fit for the whole family.

Verböten
A story about how punk saves lives
Music and Lyrics by Jason Narducy
Book by Brett Neveu
Directed by Artistic Director Nathan Allen

January 16 – March 8, 2020
PRESS OPENING: Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020 at 7 p.m.
Chopin Upstairs Theatre, 1543 W. Division Street
Production Sponsor: The Poetry Foundation

1983. Chicago. It’s do-or-die for Verböten—a band made up of outsider teens with seriously complex home lives. As they gear up for a show at The Cubby Bear that is sure to change their lives forever, can they keep their parents from destroying the fabric of their self-made punk rock family? With lyrics and music by Verböten’s original guitarist Jason Narducy (Split Single, Superchunk, Bob Mould) and book by Brett Neveu (Odradek, Pilgrim's Progress, Traitor), Verböten is inspired by the true story of Chicago's own young punks.

Henry V
O For a Muse of Fire
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Artistic Director Nathan Allen

Featuring Company Member Brenda Barrie as Henry, with Company Members Desmond Gray, Michael E. Smith, Kevin Stangler, Kara Davidson, Ben Hertel, Derek Matson, Christine Mayland Perkins, Joseph Steakley, and, as the Chorus, Nathan Allen

March 19 – May 10, 2020
PRESS OPENING: Sunday, March 29, 2020 at 7 p.m.
Chopin Upstairs Theatre, 1543 W. Division Street

As Henry attempts to accomplish the impossible, so does Shakespeare in one of his most demanding works of stagecraft. The House adventures back and forth across oceans for justice, intrigue, romance, and the “alarms and excursions” of the battlefield. Featuring Brenda Barrie as Henry and Nathan Allen as the Chorus, The House entreats you to “let us on your imaginary forces work,” and witness one of Shakespeare’s most compelling examinations of our capacity for leadership.

Artistic Director, Nathan Allen, reflects, “A few of us started dreaming about starting a theatre company while studying classical theatre in London. Like Shakespeare’s theatre, the company we imagined would be founded to engage the audience’s imagination in ‘amazing feats of storytelling.’ Nowhere are those founding ideas better described than by Shakespeare himself. And for many in The House’s ensemble, returning to this text feels like returning to the root ideas of our work together.”

The Magic Parlour

An intimate evening of classic magic starring Dennis Watkins
OPEN RUN

Fridays at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 4:30, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.
Tickets: $79 – $89 (and includes wine, beer or soft drink selections)
Now on sale through October 2019!
The Palmer House Hotel, 17 E. Monroe St.
Tickets are available at www.themagicparlourchicago.com

Award-winning, third-generation magician Dennis Watkins invites you to his evening of sophisticated tomfoolery in one of the Windy City's most exclusive and long-running entertainment experiences. The Magic Parlour is replete with mind-blowing magic and mind reading to ignite your imagination in an intimate suite at the historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel in downtown Chicago. Guests convene at Potter's Lounge and will be escorted to the private performance venue. The performance lasts approximately 80 minutes.

Following select performances of The Magic Parlour, experience Dennis Watkins’ world-class sleight of hand in an even more intimate and exclusive setting with The Encore Room. Limited to 10 guests at a time, The Encore Room also offers guests a unique opportunity to participate in a Q&A with Watkins where they can learn more about his family legacy, his remarkable life in magic, and his work as one of this country’s premier magical entertainers.

ABOUT THE HOUSE THEATRE OF CHICAGO 
The House is Chicago's premier home for intimate, original works of epic story and stagecraft. Founded and led by Artistic Director Nathan Allen and driven by an interdisciplinary ensemble of Chicago’s next generation of great storytellers, The House aims to become a laboratory and platform for the evolution of the American theatre as an inclusive and popular artform.

The House was founded in 2001 by a group of friends to explore connections between Community and Storytelling through a unique theatrical experience. Since becoming eligible in 2004, The House has won 24 Joseph Jefferson Awards, became the first recipient of Broadway in Chicago’s Emerging Theater Award in 2007, and was awarded a 2014 National Theatre Company Grant by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards. The 18th season of original work begins this November and The House will continue its mission to unite Chicago in the spirit of community through amazing feats of Storytelling.   

CDI/Concert Dance Inc. (CDI) returns to the Ravinia Festival With Ruth Page Festival of Dance at Ravinia’s Bennett Gordon Hall June 1 - 2, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar:

CDI/CONCERT DANCE INC. RETURNS TO 
RAVINIA WITH THE RUTH PAGE FESTIVAL ON
 SATURDAY, JUNE 1 AND SUNDAY, JUNE 2 


Images of CDI/Concert Dance Inc. by Anthony Robert LaPenna

Artistic Director Venetia Stifler's Program Includes the World Premiere of "Dance With Words and Music" and the Revival of "El Salon" in a Special Two-Piano Arrangement Featuring Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman

CDI/Concert Dance Inc. (CDI) returns to the Ravinia Festival as part of the annual Ruth Page Festival of Dance Saturday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 2 at 4 p.m. in Ravinia’s Bennett Gordon Hall, 418 Sheridan Rd. Gates open on Saturday, June 1 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, June 2 at  3 p.m. Regularly commissioned by Ravinia to present new works, CDI Artistic Director Venetia Stifler’s 2019 program will include Colandd’s El Salón México in Berstein’s two-piano arrangement. Public ticket sales begin May 7, 2019. Reserved seating tickets will be available to purchase for $12 online at www.ravinia.org or via phone by calling 847.266.5100. No lawn seating will be available. For more information on CDI and the Ruth Page Festival of Dance, please visit www.ruthpage.org and www.concertdance.org.



Ruth Page first began her association with Ravinia in 1926 and today the Ruth Page Festival of Dance continues her legacy and dedication to dance, new ideas and breathtaking performances. An annual favorite with sold-out performances, CDI opens the Ruth Page Festival of Dance and the 2019 Ravinia Season.

Highlighting the 2019 program is the world premiere of CDI Artistic Director Venetia Stifler's "Dances With Words and Music" in sponsorship with The Poetry Foundation. Inspired by an early work of Ruth Page which celebrates poetry through dance, "Dances With Words and Music"  blends contemporary dance with the works of Langston Hughes, E.E. Cummings, Federico García Lorca and Dorothy Parker within a multi-media environment of live musical accompaniment and animations created by visual artists Kelli Evans and Frank Vodvarka.

Regularly commissioned by Ravinia to present new works, "El Salon" premiered in 2010 in observance of the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, as well as the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence.  Venetia Stifler’s setting of Copland’s wildly infectious El Salón México is presented in a special two-piano arrangement made by Bernstein and features Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman and pianist James Morehead.



About Venetia Stifler
Venetia Stifler, Emmy-nominated choreographer and director, is the executive and artistic director of The Ruth Page Center for the Arts and is also the Artistic Director of CDI/Concert Dance Inc., the official contemporary dance company of the Ruth Page Center, which performs choreography by Stifler and other leading contemporary artists while also exploring and re-envisioning Ruth Page's work. Since becoming The Ruth Page Center for the Arts’ Executive and Artistic Director in 2000, Stifler has helped to bring into greater focus the its mission of ensuring that children and dance artists have a place to study, work and perform at the highest level of excellence Stifler has choreographed over 35 major works, including the critically-acclaimed "The Chicago Project," a collaborative work combining original music and photography that used Chicago's rich architectural landscape as a vibrant backdrop. Her re-envisioned production of Ruth Page's groundbreaking 1947 "ballet carton" “Billy Sunday” came alive again in 2007 with several stage productions and in the PBS documentary produced by HMS Media. A two-year project, “Billy Sunday” not only brought this masterpiece work to new audiences, but also garnered several Emmy nominations from The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Stifler served as artistic director for the Ruth Page Dance Series (RPDS), a festival of dance she created in honor of Ms. Page to showcase the rich variety of dance styles and artists in Chicago and which is produced in conjunction with Northeastern Illinois University. The RPDS has produced over 40 Chicago area dance companies in the last 25 years in venues throughout the Chicagoland area and in 1999 was part of the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival, garnering a "Best of the Fest" by the Sunday Times of Scotland.  She was selected in 2015 to NewCity's annual "Players 2015" list, which honors leaders within the Chicago arts and culture community by recognizing those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make art happen in Chicago.

About CDI/Concert Dance Inc.

Founded in 1981, CDI/Concert Dance Inc. is the official contemporary dance company and an Artists In-Residence of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. CDI creates and presents contemporary works that evolve from a choreographic collective under the artistic direction of Emmy Award-nominated choreographer, Venetia Stifler, often using live music, video and other media to enhance the process and product. This approach to dance and choreography drives the company’s artistic vision and sets an example of artistic collaboration. CDI has evolved from a repertory company into a dance collective and artistic incubator; a unique community of collaborators within a growing organism that changes with every new dance that is made. The choreography that is currently presented by CDI comes out of this creative process. Because the dancers are both highly trained technically and active in the development of the movement vocabulary, their skills of improvisation and ability to create visual imagery results in work that is not only of the highest caliber, but also artistically proficient and emotionally satisfying.

About the Ruth Page Center for the Arts

An incubator of artistic energy and excellence and the center of Chicago's dance history, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts carries forward the vision of international dance icon Ruth Page to make dance accessible to everyone, ensuring that children and dance artists have a place to study, work and perform at the highest level of excellence. Located at 1016 N. Dearborn Street, the Center serves the Chicago dance community by being an incubator, providing a home, office space, rehearsal space, performance opportunities, professional dance training and marketing support for the up-and-coming companies and artists of Chicago's vibrant dance scene. Founded by Chicago icon and internationally-renown performer and choreographer, Ruth Page, the Center reflects her vision of supporting dance excellence in Chicago. Emanating from the Illinois heartland, the visionary work of Ruth Page influenced the growth of theater design, opera-ballet and dance. She achieved worldwide recognition as a true pioneer of dance in America by creating at the forefront of social, political and artistic issues. As a prominent force in the Chicago arts community, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts continues that legacy through its initiatives and programs that nurture the art form of dance, and by being an arts incubator for emerging and established artists and organizations.



 "Dances With Words and Music" has been sponsored in part by the Poetry Foundation and is presented in collaboration with the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

REVIEW: THE CROWD YOU’RE IN WITH Via AstonRep Theatre Company at The Raven Theatre Through June 16, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
AstonRep Theatre Company 
THE CROWD YOU’RE IN WITH
By Rebecca Gilman
 Directed by Co-Artistic Director Derek Bertelsen
Though June 16, 2019 at The Raven Theatre


  (front, l to r) Javier Carmona and Nick Freed with (back, l to r) Lynne Baker, Maggie Antonijevic, Sara Pavlak McGuire and Martin Diaz-Valdes. Photo by Paul Goyette.

Review
by bonnie kenaz-mara

Sometimes adulting is tough. Sometimes you throw a barbecue and nobody eats. In The Crowd You're in With, Chicago back yard BBQ conversations touch on everything from whether to reproduce to toddlers in Dead Kennedys wear. I'm a long time fan of Rebecca Gilman's writing and she's crafted a clique of characters here that I love to hate. 

(left to right) Lynne Baker, Javier Carmona, Sara Pavlak McGuire, Maggie Antonijevic, Nick Freed, Erin O’Brien and Martin Diaz-Valdes. Photo by Paul Goyette.


These five, contemporary, thirty something friends include a backwards baseball cap wearing bro dude, Nick Freed (Dan) and his very pregnant wife, Maggie Antonijevic (Windsong)

The pregnancy set off procreation plans among her best friend, Sara Pavlak McGuire* (Melinda) and her husband, Martin Diaz-Valdes (Jasper). With an impending birth set to change the friend dynamic, this little group fights, flees before dinner, and splinters. The conversations are timely and life changing, and some touch on divorce worthy topics that should have been addressed in this couple's marriage long before. The two younger men lack maturity and are irritating at best and pretentious at worst. In their defense, the type is quite believable and played out with panache by Martin Diaz-Valdes and Nick Freed. The women, the unfortunately named Windsong and her BFF, Melinda, are more likable, though still fabulously flawed characters. 

(left to right) Sara Pavlak McGuire and Martin Diaz-Valdes
Photo by Paul Goyette.

I did enjoy the childless by choice landlords the most. This left leaning, political activist couple are the only ones who seem confident, stable, and happy with their life choices. They flee the barbecue early on, when hostilities escalate, but return later for food, and a delightful two on one conversation with Jasper. Those three are the only ones to actually eat, at what's best described as the BBQ aftermath and clean up stage. 

We're the first generation with easy access to birth control, making parenthood a true choice versus an inevitable conclusion to marriage. It's refreshing and powerful to see these debates play out on stage. Procreation is truly a life altering choice, and when and whether to become parents is a debate rarely seen addressed in productions.


  left to right) Javier Carmona, Lynne Baker and Martin Diaz-Valdes
Photo by Paul Goyette.

Add in a band, and the decision to carry on with a creative hobby that will admittedly never become a profession, and what was meant to be a lighthearted BBQ has some heavy implications. How do we transition into the world of being 24/7 parents without losing our former selves entirely? What are the implications when one or both potential parents aren't ready to step up? Can parents of a time intensive newborn or toddler still make time to hang with childless friends and can childless landlords legally or ethically keep their rental units and communal yards baby-free zones too?

 (left to right) Nick Freed and Martin Diaz-Valdes
Photo by Paul Goyette.

The dialogue and debates here are well crafted and ring true. If you enjoy being a fly on the wall, and watching five friends struggle to grow up without imploding long term friendships and relationships, then don't miss this. Recommended.

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she has published frequently since 2008: ChiILLiveShows.com (adult) & ChiILMama.com (family friendly). 


THE CROWD YOU’RE IN WITH plays through June 16, 2019 at The Raven Theatre (West Stage), 6157 N. Clark St. in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at www.astonrep.com or by calling (773) 828-9129. 
 

 (left to right) Maggie Antonijevic and Lynne Baker
Photo by Paul Goyette.

A backyard barbeque is the perfect place to tackle life's big questions: Is the chicken done? Does the band need a new tune? Is this the right time to have a baby? Gilman's fresh and moving play takes an intimate look at modern families, friendships and the ins and outs of love. 

 (left to right) Maggie Antonijevic and Erin O’Brien
Photo by Paul Goyette.

The cast includes AstonRep Co-Artistic Director Sara Pavlak McGuire* with Maggie Antonijevic, Lynne Baker, Javier Carmona, Martin Diaz-Valdes, Nick Freed and Erin O’Brien. The production team for THE CROWD YOU’RE IN WITH includes Jeremiah Barr* (scenic/props design), Uriel Gomez (costume design), Samantha Barr* (lighting design), Melanie Thompson* (sound design), Aja Wiltshire* (assistant director) and Melanie Kulas (stage manager). 

*Denotes AstonRep Company Members. 

Cast (in alphabetical order): Maggie Antonijevic (Windsong), Lynne Baker (Karen), Javier Carmona (Tom), Martin Diaz-Valdes (Jasper), Nick Freed (Dan), Erin O’Brien (Darcy) and Sara Pavlak McGuire* (Melinda). Understudies: Lara Caprini* and David Coupe 


(left to right) Sara Pavlak McGuire and Martin Diaz-Valdes
Photo by Paul Goyette.

Location: The Raven Theatre (West Stage), 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago Dates: Previews: Thursday, May 16 at 8 pm and Friday, May 17 at 8 pm Press performance: Saturday, May 18 at 8 pm Regular run: Sunday, May 19 – Sunday, June 16, 2019 Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3:30 pm Tickets: Previews: $12; Regular run: $25. Student/seniors $15. Tickets are currently available at www.astonrep.com or by calling (773) 828-9129. 

(left to right) Nick Freed, Maggie Antonijevic and Sara Pavlak McGuire
Photo by Paul Goyette.



(left to right) Nick Freed, Maggie Antonijevic and Sara Pavlak McGuire
Photo by Paul Goyette.

About the Artists 

Rebecca Gilman (Playwright) is an artistic associate at Goodman Theatre. Her plays include Luna Gale, A True History of the Johnstown Flood, Dollhouse, Boy Gets Girl, Spinning Into Butter, Blue Surge (all of which were originally produced by the Goodman), Soups, Stews, and Casseroles, 1976 and The Crowd You’re in With (also at the Goodman), The Glory of Living; The Sweetest Swing in Baseball and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Boy Gets Girl received an Olivier nomination for Best New Play. Gilman was named a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for The Glory of Living. She is a member of the Council of the Dramatists Guild of America and a board member of the ACLU of Illinois. A graduate of the MFA in playwriting program from the University of Iowa, Gilman is now a professor of playwriting and screenwriting at Northwestern University as part of its MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage program. In 2016, she was inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame.

Derek Bertelsen (Director) joined AstonRep in 2013 and he currently serves as Co-Artistic Director. Previous directing credits with AstonRep include Doubt, Next Fall, Wit, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Lyons, the world premiere of The Black Slot, The Laramie Project, and co-directing Eleemosynary with Jeremiah Barr. He produced the sold-out run of Four By Tenn, a festival of one-act plays by Tennessee Williams. He serves as Artistic Director of The Comrades. He's also directed for BrightSide Theatre, Wilmette Center for the Arts, Pride Films & Plays and assistant directed at Goodman, Bailiwick Chicago and Steppenwolf Garage. Regional credits include Festival 56, Shawnee Summer Playhouse, New Ground Theatre and five seasons at Timber Lake Playhouse.  



The cast of AstonRep Theatre Company’s THE CROWD YOU’RE IN WITH includes (top, l to r) Co-Artistic Director Sara Pavlak McGuire with Maggie Antonijevic, Lynne Baker (bottom, l to r) Javier Carmona, Martin Diaz-Valdes, Nick Freed and Erin O’Brien.


 About AstonRep Theatre Company:
AstonRep Theatre Company was formed in the summer of 2008. Since then, the company has produced 22 full-length productions and nine annual Writers' Series. AstonRep Theatre Company is an ensemble of artists committed to creating exciting, intimate theatrical experiences that go beyond the front door to challenge audiences and spark discussion where the show is not the end of the experience: it is just the beginning.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

FLASH GIVEAWAY: WIN a Pair of Preview Tickets ($40 Value) to Lifeline Theatre's Emma (2 Winners) Choice of Dates

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Lifeline Theatre Presents 
Emma,
Opens June 4
Performances with Open Captioning on June 15 and July 12
Performance with Touch Tour and Audio Description on June 16



Giveaway! Enter below through midnight 5/23/19
2 Lucky Readers Will 
WIN a Pair of Tickets ($40 Value) to your choice of preview dates 
(Previews are Fridays, May 24 and 31 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 25 and June 1 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 26 at 4 p.m.)

Lifeline Theatre presents Emma, adapted by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Phil Timberlake and directed by Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Elise Kauzlaric. Making his Lifeline playwriting debut, Timberlake joins Kauzlaric, director of 2012’s Pride and Prejudice and 2016’s Northanger Abbey (Non-Equity Jeff nomination: Best Production–Musical), for a fresh, intimate look at this beloved Austen romp. 

After a successful experiment in matchmaking, Emma Woodhouse is convinced she can do no wrong. So the high-spirited socialite inserts herself in the love lives of everyone around her, meddling despite their wishes, and leaves a tangle of heartbreak in her wake. To restore happiness to her fractured world, Emma must swallow her pride and learn to value the needs of others over her own desires. Navigate the blunders of the heart in this world premiere adaptation of the 1815 romantic comedy by Jane Austen. The production runs approximately 2 hours with an intermission. The novel will be on sale in the lobby.


Emma Sipora Tyler as Emma.  Photo by Suzanne Plunkett.

I'll be out for the press opening June 2nd and can't wait to catch Emma Sipora Tyler as Emma Woodhouse! She's a favorite of ours. 

Emma runs May 24 – July 14 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below). Opening night is Tuesday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m. (Previews are Fridays, May 24 and 31 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 25 and June 1 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 26 at 4 p.m.)

Regular performance times (June 6 – July 14) are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $40 for regular single tickets, $30 for active and retired military personnel (with ID), $30 for seniors, $20 for students (with ID), $20 for rush tickets (available half hour before show time, subject to availability), and $20 for previews. Group rate for 12 or more is available upon request. Tickets may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting www.lifelinetheatre.com.

Accessible Performances: The Saturday, June 15, 4 p.m. performance and the Friday, July 12, 7:30 p.m. performances will feature open captioning for patrons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. The Sunday, June 16, 4 p.m. performance will feature a pre-show touch tour of the set at 2:30 p.m. and live audio description for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For more information about Lifeline’s accessibility services, please contact our Accessibility Coordinator Erica Foster at 773.761.4477 x703 or at access@lifelinetheatre.com.

The complete cast and production team for Emma includes:

CAST: Guest artists Peter Gertas (Frank/Elton), Jeri Marshall (Jane), Maddie Pell (Harriet), Emma Sipora Tyler (Emma), and Cory Williamson (Knightley). With understudies Aissa Guerra, Royan Kent, Jamie Sandomire, Sana Selemon, and Zach Twardowski.

PRODUCTION TEAM: Lifeline Theatre ensemble members Aly Renee Amidei (Costume Designer), Diane Fairchild (Lighting Designer), Elise Kauzlaric (Director/Dialect Coach), Maren Robinson (Dramaturg), and Phil Timberlake (Adaptor); with guest artists Andrew Hansen (Sound Designer), Persephone Lawrence (Properties Designer), Sarah Lewis (Scenic Designer), Jennifer McClendon (Production Manager), Kate Reed (Stage Manager), Joe Schermoly (Technical Director), and Jonah White (Master Electrician)

Lifeline Theatre presents Emma runs May 24 – July 14 at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave. (free parking and shuttle; see below). Press opening is Sunday, June 2 at 4 p.m. Opening night is Tuesday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m. (Previews are Fridays, May 24 and 31 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 25 and June 1 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 26 at 4 p.m.) Regular performance times (June 6 – July 14) are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $40 for regular single tickets, $30 for active and retired military personnel (with ID), $30 for seniors, $20 for students (with ID), $20 for rush tickets (available half hour before show time, subject to availability), and $20 for previews. Group rate for 12 or more is available upon request. Tickets may be purchased at the Lifeline Theatre Box Office, 773.761.4477, or by visiting www.lifelinetheatre.com.

Lifeline Theatre is accessible by CTA (Red Line Morse stop/busses) and free parking is available at Sullivan High School (6631 N Bosworth Ave — the lot is located on the corner of Bosworth Ave and Albion Ave, with the entrance on Albion) with free shuttle service before and after the show.  Street parking is also available. Lifeline is accessible to wheelchair users and visitors who need to avoid stairs.



Now in its 36th season, Lifeline Theatre is driven by a passion for story. Our ensemble process supports writers in the development of literary adaptations and new work, and our theatrical and educational programs foster a lifelong engagement with literature and the arts. A cultural anchor of Rogers Park, we are committed to deepening our connection to an ever-growing family of artists and audiences, both near and far. Lifeline Theatre – Big Stories, Up Close.


Lifeline Theatre’s programs are partially supported by Alphawood Foundation; A.R.T. League Inc.; Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois; Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; Chicago CityArts, a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events; CIG Management; CNA Foundation; Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; FGMK LLC; FlexPrint Inc.; Lloyd A. Fry Foundation; The Michael and Mona Heath Fund at The Chicago Community Trust Foundation; Illinois Arts Council Agency; Illinois Humanities Council; MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince; The National Endowment for the Arts; The PAV Grant Fund; The Polk Bros. Foundation; Rogers Park Social; The Saints; S&C Electric Company Fund; The Shubert Foundation; The Steele Foundation; The Manufacturing; and the annual support of businesses and individuals.

Giveaway! Enter HERE through midnight 5/23/19
2 Lucky Readers Will 
WIN a Pair of Tickets ($40 Value) to your choice of preview dates 
(Previews are Fridays, May 24 and 31 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, May 25 and June 1 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 26 at 4 p.m.)


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