The Audacity of ‘Hope’

Don’t-miss picks for 09.16.09 through 09.22.09: Ravinia wraps with a biggie … Thomas Frank weighs in on Kansas Beer returns for one night only … and in Freebies: Joffrey alfresco, plus Dybek, Kotlowitz, and Baryshnikov sightings

Redmoon's latest extravaganza, Spectacle '09, runs through Sunday at Belmont Harbor.
BIG JONES Dancers rehearse Bill T. Jones’s Fondly Do We Hope … Fervently Do We Pray, premiering Sep 17 at Ravinia.

THE FIVE

Don’t-miss picks for Wed 09.16.09 through Tue 09.22.09:

1

dance Fondly Do We Hope . . . Fervently Do We Pray
The biggest event of Ravinia’s season? This world premiere from the experimental choreographer Bill T. Jones, a deconstructed look at the real man behind the near-mythical Lincoln figure, as seen from Jones’s perspective as an African American artist.
GO: Sep 17, 19 at 8. $10-$65. Ravinia, Lake Cook Rd and Green Bay Rd, Highland Park. ravinia.org

2

farrago What’s the Matter with Kansas?
Inspired by Thomas Frank’s best-selling book of the same name, the local filmmakers Laura Cohen and Joe Winston have turned a lens on how Kansas, once a radical outpost, has become a Heartland hotbed of conservatism. Cohen, Winston, and Frank host a Q & A following the late screenings on Sep 18 and 19.
GO: Sep 18-24. $10. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N State. siskelfilmcenter.org

3

theatre Beer, Urban Assault Ride
Back for one night: a remount of The Neo-Futurists’ wintertime play Beer, about a kid who sneaks into a brewery and finds himself in a fantasyland of lagers and ales. If the dry performance (no beer sold, no BYO) leaves you thirsty, sign on for the Urban Assault Ride, a scavenger hunt by bike put on by New Belgium Brewing that’s riddled with kooky obstacles and wraps with a boozy afterparty. Think of it as practice for Chicagoland Car-Free Day the following Tuesday.
GO: Beer: Sep 17 at 8. $20. Metropolitan Brewery, 5121 N Ravenswood. neofuturists.org. Urban Assault Ride: Sep 20 at 9 am. $60 per person. Murphy’s Bleachers, 3655 N Sheffield. urbanassaultride.com

4

theatre Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Racial tension, the blues, and a diva who makes Beyoncé look low maintenance put the roar in Roaring Twenties–era Chicago, in this, August Wilson’s sole Pittsburgh Cycle play not set in Pittsburgh.
GO: Sep 17–Oct 18. $32-$56. Court Theatre, 5535 S Ellis. courttheatre.org

5

concert World Music Festival
The economy has taken a bite out of the city’s fest budget, which means fewer blockbuster acts and more internationally influenced but locally based bands. Still, quality remains high, as does quantity: some 50 events at 21 venues, many free. Highlights include Luminescent Orchestrii, which mixes Gypsy melodies, Klezmer, and old-timey fiddle with the energy of a late ’70s punk band (Sep 20 at 8), and the Iraqi oud master Rahim AlHaj (Sep 24 at 7).
GO: Sep 18-24. Multiple venues; full schedule: worldmusicfestivalchicago.org

FREEBIES OF THE WEEK

farrago Dybek, Kotlowitz, Shay
If you missed Monday’s chat, featuring Audrey Niffenegger and Aleksandar Hemon, feting the London-based Granta magazine’s Chicago-themed-issue launch, there’s time to atone. Local lit titans Stuart Dybek and Alex Kotlowitz read at the Harold Washington on Sep 17 (an earlier version of “Seiche,” Dybek’s story from the issue, first ran in Chicago mag in 2008); then on Sep 20, the photographer Art Shay hosts a chat in a pub straight out of a novel by his pal Nelson Algren.
GO: Dybek, Kotlowitz: Sep 17 at 6. Harold Washington Library, 400 S State. chicagopubliclibrary.org. Shay: Sep 20 at 6. Rainbo Club, 1150 N Damen. 773-489-5999

dance Joffrey Ballet
On this Millennium Park bill: Edwaard Liang’s Age of Innocence, a wry look at courtship set in a Jane Austen–era ballroom after the party is over. But take note: In Liang’s vision, the women are no shrinking violets, and the men—including the 2009 Chicago single and the lead in Joffrey’s upcoming Othello, Fabrice Calmels—do more than bow politely. If the program inspires you to practice a few moves of your own, head back for the final free fitness class of the season on the park’s lush lawn, Sep 19 at 7.
GO: Sep 17 at 6:30. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph. millenniumpark.org

farrago Mikhail Baryshnikov Book Signing
For dance fans, shutterbugs, and wannabe Carrie Bradshaws alike: a chance to ogle the 61-year-old’s fine physique—er, photos—up close. In advance of his run next week at the Harris, Misha signs copies of Merce My Way, his new book of photographs documenting recent works by the late, great choreographer Merce Cunningham.
GO: Sep 22 at 1. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org

Photograph: Russell Jenkins/Ravinia Festival

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