Drama Without Borders

Our top five picks for things to do this week: Life-changing theatre, no exaggeration . . . Nutt hangs again at the MCA . . . screenprint it yourself at the Block . . . and more

A scene from 'Being Harold Pinter'
STRIPPED Belarus Free Theatre sheds its clothes and its homeland for Being Harold
Pinter,
onstage now.

THE FIVE

Don’t-miss picks for Wed 01.26.11 through Tue 02.01.11

1

theatre Sex with Strangers
Can a scenester (Stephen Louis Grush) with a white-hot blog about his sex life find happiness with a 30-something writer (Sally Murphy) whose career is on the wane? With a cast like this, it hardly matters: Laura Eason’s look at love, writing, and sex—a remount from Steppenwolf’s 2009 First Look Repertory—is a must-see.
GO: Previews through 1/29; $20–$50. Run continues through 5/15; $20–$73. Steppenwolf, 1650 N Halsted. steppenwolf.org

2

dance Pilobolus Dance Theatre
If only we are so flexible at 40. Hard to believe it’s been four decades since this visionary troupe of gymnastic dance experimentalists first twisted their bodies into living sculptures. In a rare Chicago appearance, the witty counterculture contortionists share a retrospective of the best in optically illusive movement.
GO: 1/28–29 at 7:30. $25–$55. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. harristheaterchicago.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: In another display of physical might, local teams of Siberian huskies put their handlers through dogsledding and skijoring demos 1/29–30 at Morton Arboretum. Onlookers who find themselves especially smitten can pet the pups and—warning, parents—sign up to adopt a rescued dog.

3

museums Jim Nutt: Coming into Character
Nutt’s first major Chicago exhibition in a decade offers a what-he’s-been-up-to-lately look at the hometown Hairy Who’er, with a focus on his 20-year preoccupation with painting the female head. A companion show, Seeing Is a Kind of Thinking, aims to put Nutt in context, with works by his contemporaries and later artists. For more backstory, pick up Chicago’s February issue, featuring a portrait of the artist’s 50-year marriage to fellow painter Gladys Nilsson (now that’s a long work in progress).
GO: 1/29­–5/29. Open Tue 10–8, Wed–Sun 10–5. Free (kids under 12) to $12; free Tue. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org

4

concerts Music Now featuring Mouse on Mars
We knew Anna Clyne and Mason Bates were cool: Composers who moonlight as DJs and team up with filmmakers? Check. Pizza and beer at CSO concerts? Check. Which makes this latest installment of the composers-in-residence series, featuring the German electronic duo Mouse on Mars, icing on the cake—or, rather, pepperoni on the pie.
GO: 1/31 at 7. $10–$20 includes a postconcert reception with, yes, pizza and beer. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph. cso.org

5

theatre Being Harold Pinter
We would say the behind-the-scenes drama is as compelling as what’s onstage, but that wouldn’t do justice to a play Tony Kushner told Chris Jones was “the best Pinter I’ve ever seen.” The short story: About a month ago, the members of Belarus Free Theatre slipped out of their embattled home country to make their date at New York’s Under the Radar Festival. But when that run ended January 16th, returning to Minsk almost certainly would have meant a group trip straight to jail. So Chicago got involved—more specifically, the Goodman and the League of Chicago Theatres—giving BFT a few more weeks to strategize and potentially apply for asylum. The moral: Some theatre changes your mind. Some changes your life. This staging—a blending of the Nobel Prize–winning playwright Harold Pinter and interviews with Belarusian political prisoners—could change the lives of 13 others.
GO: $20. 1/27 (sold out), 28–29: Goodman Theatre, 170 N Dearborn. goodmantheatre.org. 2/4–6, 11–13: Mussetter-Struble Theater, Northwestern U, 1949 Campus, Evanston. tic.northwestern.edu. 2/18–20: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E Grand. chicagoshakes.com

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND

Glenn Edgerton, artistic director of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Glenn Edgerton

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals (a.k.a. people we like): Glenn Edgerton, the artistic director of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, which just received a $50,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation for a new commission by the San Francisco–based choreographer Alonzo King, to be staged in 2012.

“It’s funny to think people care about what I’m doing”—we do!—“but I’m going to see Pilobolus [see above] on Friday night at the Harris Theater. I haven’t seen them in a few years, since back when I lived in New York, so it’s lucky that the Harris is presenting them.

“Monday night, I’m going to Music Now [see above], also at the Harris. My reasons for going are twofold: I’m interested not only in Mason Bates’s and Anna Clyne’s music, but I’m also thinking about future endeavors between Hubbard Street and the CSO. Our resident choreographer has staged a piece to a work by Bates in the past, so it’s all connected to what we do.

“Saturday and Sunday, I’m visiting with friends and going to one of my favorite restaurants in town, Avec. I’ll be toasting the Joyce Foundation. It’s just wonderful to be recognized for a project like this. You put ideas in motion, but when they’re picked up within the community by such a prestigious foundation, it becomes really exciting. It gives some validation to what we’re doing.

“Also on Sunday, we’ve got hundreds and hundreds of dancers converging on Hubbard Street, all vying for a spot in our summer intensive. In the last two years, we have taken dancers into our second company [Hubbard Street 2], so the program is a vehicle to recruit dancers. That goes all day Sunday. It’s a marathon, but the energy of it is really extraordinary—to have all of these young people converging on our studios. The sense of hope they bring is really infectious.”

FREEBIES OF THE WEEK

museums Printpalooza
BYO T-shirt for DIY screenprinting at this one-day ode to the art of the multiple run. Participating practitioners include Drive By, Cannonball, Spudnik, and Dumbo Presses—with the latter, a.k.a. artist Eric Fuertes, demonstrating his rocking-horse-as-printing-press technique onsite. Giddy-up.
GO: 1/29 from noon to 4. Block Museum of Art, Northwestern U, 40 Arts Circle, Evanston. blockmuseum.northwestern.edu

concerts Ólafur Arnalds
In the mold of Nico Muhly, Arnalds is a young composer whose work meanders fluidly from chamber music to pop. Also like Muhly, who wrote the score for the 2008 film The Reader, Arnalds has dabbled in cinematic undertakings: Another Happy Day, directed by Sam Levinson (son of Barry), debuted last weekend at Sundance. Such fresh talent certainly deserves your 15 bucks, but for those who’d like a free nip in advance of Arnalds’s Sunday-night gig at the MCA, we suggest an afternoon amuse-bouche at the Cultural Center.
GO: 1/30 at 3: Free. Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E Washington. 312-744-6630. 1/30 at 7:30: $15. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org

 

Photography: (Belarus Free Theatre) Aleksandr Paskannoi,
(Edgerton) Cheryl Mann

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