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Oh, the Humanities!

Our top five picks for things to do this week: French New Wave comes alive . . . The 1900s play a free in-store gig . . . an emerging artist boggles the mind . . . plus, our pick for music to ward off winter and more

A scene from a reinterpretation of Agnes Varda's play, Cleo from 5 to 7
VARDA’S GIRLS Big Dance Theater reinterprets Agnès Varda’s New Wave
classic Cleo from 5 to 7 at the MCA.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 11.03.10 through Tue 11.09.10:


lit/lectures Chicago Humanities Festival
The cheapest liberal arts education, ever: Speakers on this year’s theme, the body, include the U of I prof Paula Treichler on the history of the condom; a panel of foreign correspondents on how their countrymen see the US, moderated by The Washington Post’s Peter Slevin; Kenneth Roth, the director of Human Rights Watch; and the basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And that’s just week one.
GO: CHF runs Nov 2­–14. Prices and locations vary; full schedule: chicagohumanities.org


theatre Comme Toujours Here I Stand
Also part of CHF, but worth a special callout: The inventive New York–based Big Dance Theater moves to a metatheatrical beat as it reinvents Agnès Varda’s classic French New Wave flick Cleo from 5 to 7 in a performance combining dance, an original song by Robyn Hitchcock, and film footage. Nerd alert: Here’s hoping the latter includes the movie’s opening title sequence, one of the greatest (in Chicago Guide’s humble opinion) of all time.
GO: Nov 4, 6 at 7:30; Nov 7 at 3. $10–$28. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: In film: Eyeworks, a festival of experimental animation cocurated by the lovely and talented Lilli Carré, flickers to life Nov 6; plus, Reeling 2010, the world’s second-oldest lesbian and gay film fest, gets rolling on local screens Nov 4, and candidates for the Golden Teeth Award begin screening Nov 5 as part of the annual Polish Film Festival in America.


theatre Kid Sister
Oh, the horrors American Idol hath wrought—and we’re not even talking about Sanjaya. In this dark comedy by Will Kern (Hellcab), Allison Torem (Trustthe play, not the film) stars as a 19-year-old baby mama with dreams of rock stardom and a dubious handle on basic human decency.
GO: Previews Nov 4–11; $15. Run continues through Dec 19; $30­­–$35. Profiles Theatre, 4147 N Broadway. profilestheatre.org


classical Michael Tilson Thomas
You down with MTT? You should be. Thomas, who nabbed a 2009 National Medal of Arts from President Obama, leads the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a bill involving two more great Americans: the 33-year-old organist Paul Jacobs playing Aaron Copland’s Organ Symphony. Consider it a joyfully noisy sendoff to midterm election season.
GO: Nov 4–6 at 8. $28–$239. Symphony Center, 220 S Michigan. cso.org


concerts Junip
Word on the street is snow—You remember snow, don’t you? You just put your lips together and curse—is in the forecast this week. If, like us, you need a reminder that winter is not all frostbite and humbugs, be sure to catch this band, a side project from the singer-songwriter José González, who manages to write funky and cheerful melodies from his frozen homebase of Sweden.
GO: Nov 6 at 10. $15. Lincoln Hall, 2424 N Lincoln. lincolnhallchicago.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: Jake Shimabukuro, whose stunning covers of everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Michael Jackson are the main reason the ukulele is suddenly back in style, plays the Old Town School of Folk Music on Nov 6.


concerts The 1900s
After a two-year stint in the school of hard knocks, Chicago’s indie-rock darlings come back swinging with a new fighting-weight album. Hear songs from Return of the Century when the group plays a live in-store gig.
GO: Nov 5 at 5:30. Reckless Records, 1532 N Milwaukee. reckless.com

concerts Umbrella Music Fest
Free jazz gets even freer when this fifth-annual bash opens with two gratis nights under the banner of European Jazz Meets Chicago: a lineup of leading improvisers from across the pond (Xavier Charles, Joost Buis) alongside some of Chicago’s own top players (Nate McBride, Nicole Mitchell).
GO: Nov 3 at 6:30, Nov 4 at 7:15. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E Washington. Umbrella continues through Nov 7. Prices and locations vary; full schedule: umbrellamusic.org

galleries Michael Rea
Even if you don’t remember his name, this NIU grad’s surreal sculptures will haunt your dreams. Rea constructs objects—mind-blowing replicas of tanks, guns, tools, and other mechanica—completely from memory, using unfinished wood. The pieces are nonfunctional, subtly inaccurate, and inherently ridiculous, yet so meticulously crafted, labor intensive, and beautiful as to make them undeniably compelling.
GO: Opening reception Nov 5 from 6 to 9. Exhibition continues through Dec 10. Ebersmoore, 213 N Morgan, Ste 3C. ebersmoore.com


WIDTW—our series of plans from notable, in-the-know locals (a.k.a. people we like)—is taking the weekend off. Maybe you should, too.


Big Dance Theater, Comme Toujours Here I Stand. Photo by Paula Court


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