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The Top Five Things to Do in Chicago This Week

The best in theater, classical, art, and more.

JUST JAMES See outgoing Ravinia music director James Conlon lead The Flying Dutchman.   Photo: Candice C. Cusic

The Five

Don’t-miss picks for Wednesday, August 12 through August 18, 2015

1 This House Believes the American Dream is at the Expense of the American Negro

Theater: Fifty years ago, writer James Baldwin and National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. met to debate the topic that director Zachary Baker-Salmon incorporates into the title of this reenactment. Baker-Salmon adds an interactive spin: The audience will vote to determine the winner.
8/12–8/15. Free. Austin Town Hall, 5610 W. Lake. chicagoparkdistrict.com/events/theater-on-the-lake-schedule

2 The Flying Dutchman

Classical: In James Conlon’s tenure as Ravinia’s music director, his concert opera presentations have always been highlights. In his final Ravinia year, Conlon’s swan song concert opera is Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, the tale of a ghost story and arranged marriage, starring Greer Grimsely as the Dutchman.
8/15 at 7:30. $15–$140. Ravinia, 200 Ravinia Park, Highland Park. ravinia.com

3 Rebecca Makkai

Readings: On the heels of her warmly-received new collection of short stories, Music for Wartime, Makkai does this reading at Women and Children First.
8/13 at 7:30. Free. Women and Children First, 5233 N. Clark. womenandchildrenfirst.com

4 Nothing Named Nine Times

Art: Recent Chicago transplant Ruth Hodgins was born in Glasgow and makes video installations, drawings, and small sculptures about cultural dissonance, or what it feels like to be a tourist in one’s new home.
8/15–8/28. Free. Roman Susan, 1224 W. Loyola. romansusan.org

5 Oshwa

Electronica: Chicago’s self-proclaimed art-pop darlings have been teasing an LP for months, and if it weren’t for the ethereal YouTube demos frontwoman Alicia Walter has been uploading all year, fans might quit believing them. As for your chances of hearing new material live, off-the-grid DIY venue ECO seems like the right place to test-drive some wonky tracks.
8/14 at 8. $7 suggested donation. ECO, 2042 W. 21st.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Brent Heyl
Brent Heyl Photo: Courtesy of Brent Heyl

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: Brent Heyl, talent buyer for Empty Bottle Presents!

“This Friday Empty Bottle Presents! is doing a cruise with the Reader on the Tall Ship Windy. We’ll have [country musician] Al Scorch, this indie rock band The Sueves, Gilt Bar music curator Scottie McNiece is gonna be DJing. Later that night, experimental musicians Mykki Blanco and Cut Hands will both be in town the same night, which is rare. They’ll perform a show at Empty Bottle.

“If I was able to, I’d go to the Experimental Sound Studio, a recording studio up in Edgewater. They’ve got this outdoor show, and they’ll have Ryley Walker, who’s one of my favorite Chicago musicians right now. That night, I’ll be down seeing Surfer Blood at Thalia Hall. It’s a free show, so if you haven’t checked out the hall, it’s a cool chance to go. If I wasn’t there, Johalla Projects has their Don’t Fret show closing. If I wasn’t at that, I’d go see Fly Honey at Chopin.

“Sunday, I’ll swing by the handmade market at the Promontory and then kick it down in Hyde Park for a while, maybe get some lunch, take it to the Point, hang out there. I’d like to go to Constellation for Olivia Block. I haven’t gotten to see her before, but she’s one of the most interesting people right now in the experimental music scene in Chicago.

“That same night has the Puterbaugh Sisters at Empty Bottle. They’re a comedic duo that do this show every Sunday during the month of August—we don’t usually do comedy, so that’s pretty cool.” —As told to Hannah Nyhart

Freebie of the Week


Third Coast Percussion

New Music: The groovers and shakers of the new music group have performed a couple of big new compositions by locals recently—Augusta Read Thomas’s Resounding Earth and Wild Sound by Glenn Kotche, a.k.a. the drummer of Wilco. In this short-format summer series, they perform excerpts of both and a full-length work by one of their members David Skidmore.
8/18 at 5:45. Free. St. James Cathredral, 65 E. Huron. rushhour.org

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