Middletown, Chinglish, Keith Huff

This week’s top picks: What’s new at Steppenwolf … David Henry Hwang (times two) … playwright Keith Huff’s weekend plans … plus, free poetry in a $21.5 million package

A scene from 'Middletown'
NORMAL, ILLINOIS Middletown, by the Pulitzer finalist Will Eno, opens 6/26 at
Steppenwolf.

THE FIVE

Don’t-miss picks for Wed 06.22.11 through Tue 06.28.11:

1

theatre Middletown
Steppenwolf assembles another swoon-worthy ensemble (Tracy Letts, Michael Patrick Thornton, Martha Lavey, and Ora Jones, among others) for Will Eno’s portrait of a small town that’s all Norman Rockwell on the outside, Edvard Munch on the interior. Can a newcomer find happiness once she’s glimpsed the troubles within a seemingly perfect all-American community? We can’t wait to find out.
GO: Previews through 6/25 ($20–$50). Run continues through 8/14 ($20–$73). Steppenwolf, 1650 N Halsted. steppenwolf.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: One Thousand and One Nights, the touring production that was scheduled to open 6/25 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, has been postponed due to visa issues. Stay tuned for updates.

2

theatre Chinglish
Yes, three of his plays have made their Midwestern debut with Chicago’s Silk Road Theatre Project and, yes, you can see yet another of his works in Chicago this very month—but don’t be lulled into lackadaisia: A world premiere by the Tony winner David Henry Hwang doesn’t come along every day. This one, the Mandarin/English hybrid Chinglish, follows an American hoping to do big business in China. For more on Hwang, pick up Chicago’s July issue for an interview with the playwright—but first, see “ALSO THIS WEEK,” below.
GO: Previews through 6/26 ($25–$72). Run continues through 7/24 ($25–$73). Goodman Theatre, 170 N Dearborn. goodmantheatre.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: Behind door number 2: Steve Scott directs David Henry Hwang’s drama about a playwright whose initials are DHH. Yellow Face, a coproduction of the Goodman and Silk Road Theatre Project, runs through 7/17 at the Chicago Temple.

3

dance Eiko & Koma
The groundbreaking husband-and-wife duo kicks off a new retrospective of their work at the MCA, Time Is Not Even, Space Is Not Empty, with an in-gallery performance series, Naked. Eiko & Koma are known for their organic movements tied to natural environments—here, that’s a giant bird’s nest—but their choreography is really about our glacial march toward mortality. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of what was going on at the MCA last Friday.
GO: Performances take place 6/24–26, 28 from noon to 5. Time Is Not Even, Space Is Not Empty continues through 11/13. Museum admission $12; free Tue. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org

4

rock/pop Green Music Fest
Green-friendly touring meets green-saving admission in one white-hot indie-rock bill: the now-noisy, now-delicate Yo La Tengo (Sat at 8:30), the garage-rocking Thermals (Sun at 7), and the blustery new-wave revivalists Les Savy Fav (Sun at 8:30). Seriously, Yo La Tengo for five bucks? That’s a deal that will leave Lollapalooza ticket holders green with envy.
GO: 6/25–26 from noon to 10. $5 per day. Damen from North to Schiller. greenmusicfestchicago.com

5

rock/pop Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Prefer your concerts seated, with air conditioning? This gig presents a bit of a changeup for the fine Texas troubadour Gilmore, who has joined forces with the old-timey Wronglers to give a fresh coat of cracked paint to his soulful sagebrush sound. Plus, the local country-punk staple Jon Langford opens—all in the comfort of one of our favorite Chicago music rooms.
GO: 6/25 at 8. $21–$25. Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N Lincoln. oldtownschool.org

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND

Playwright and screenwriter, Keith Huff
Keith Huff

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: the playwright and screenwriter Keith Huff, whose A Steady Rain starred Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman on Broadway after debuting at Chicago Dramatists in 2007, and whose latest, The Detective’s Wife, is onstage now in its world premiere at Writers’ Theatre.

“My wife’s birthday is next week, so my daughter and I will probably be shopping at Old Orchard this weekend for the perfect gift—which we somehow never manage to find. We live in the Wildwood community of Chicago (Devon-Lehigh-Caldwell), so we typically head north to the burbs, where we never have to fight (or pay) for a parking spot. Breakfast at Kappy’s in Morton Grove is a regular stop for us. I heartily recommend the Oatmeal Royale.
 
“We just got a new dog, a terrier mix, from Wright Way Rescue in Niles, and Saturday is our first class in obedience training with the terrific dog trainer Frank DeMarco. So we’ll all be there first thing Saturday morning and hopefully all of us will come home housebroken.
 
“If we get a break from all this rain, my daughter and I will go bike riding in Caldwell Woods on Saturday or Sunday. After that, I’ll burn something on the grill. If we don’t get a break from the rain, I’m anxious to finish reading Cloud Atlas, a brilliant, playful book by David Mitchell. I’ve only got two chapters to go. After that, I’ve got Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 sitting on my bookshelf, which I plan to read next.”

GO: The Detective’s Wife has been extended through 8/7 at Writers’ Theatre, 664 Vernon, Glencoe. Tickets run $50–$65: writerstheatre.org

FREEBIES OF THE WEEK

rock/pop Low, Glen Hansard
Downtown Sound, Millennium Park’s Monday-night concert series, continues its winning streak with a don’t-miss double bill: the Minnesota trio Low, which has expanded beyond but not abandoned the slowcore genre it pioneered, with the charming Frames frontman, Glen Hansard, opening.
GO: 6/27 at 6:30. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Washington. millenniumpark.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: The jazz violinist and MacArthur genius Regina Carter performs Billy Childs’s Violin Concerto on 6/22 as part of the Grant Park Music Festival.

lit/lectures Poetry Foundation Open House
It’s hard to say which is the bigger draw: the world-class poets (Elizabeth Alexander, who penned Obama’s 2009 inaugural poem; Robert Hass, the Pulitzer Prize winner; Sandra Cisneros, the Chicago-born writer of The House on Mango Street) or the foundation’s sparkly new $21.5 million digs, outfitted with poetry-friendly squeak-free chairs and a reverie-inducing urban grove.
GO: 6/25 from 10 to 6; 6/26 from 10 to 7:30. Many events are full; visit the website to add your name to the individual waiting lists. No tickets necessary for book signings or to visit the building. Poetry Foundation, 61 W Superior. poetryfoundation.org/openhouse

 

Photography: (MIDDLETOWN) Michael Brosilow; (HUFF) Georgette Huff

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