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The Top Five Things to Do in Chicago This Week

The best events in theater, dance, art, and more

ART SMART Expo Chicago happens this weekend.   Photo: Paul Audia

The Five

Don’t-miss picks for Wednesday, September 16 through September 22, 2015

1 Expo Chicago

Art: In its largest iteration yet, Expo Chicago convenes 140 galleries on Navy Pier to showcase their best contemporary artists. Be sure to check out the slew of related events, including the swanky opening-night preview Vernissage (9/17 at 6).
9/18–9/20. $15–$30. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand. expochicago.com

2 Millennials

Dance: With a program designed to get twentysomethings interested in ballet, the Joffrey performs works by three buzzing emerging choreographers: Myles Thatcher, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Christopher Wheeldon.
9/16–9/20. $32–$155. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy. joffrey.org

3 East of Eden

Theater: When Frank Galati adapted Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath for Steppenwolf in 1988, the play won multiple Tonys. Galati returns with East of Eden, Steinbeck’s self-proclaimed magnum opus. Terry Kinney directs the sprawling World War I–era story featuring an ensemble cast that includes Kate Arrington, Francis Guinan, Tim Hopper, Alan Wilder, and Dan Waller.
9/17–11/15. $20–$89. Steppenwolf, 1650 N. Halsted. steppenwolf.org

4 Ensemble Dal Niente

Music: The second week of the months-long multigenre Latino Music Festival continues with one of Chicago’s top new-music groups, Ensemble Dal Niente, performing chamber works by Mexican and South American composers, including Jimmy Lopez, the composer of Lyric Opera’s upcoming world premiere Bel Canto.
9/20 at 2. Free. Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State. latinomusicfest.org

5 Direct From Death Row: The Scottsboro Boys

Theater: The tragedy of the Scottsboro Boys doesn’t exactly scream out for soft-shoe and ventriloquism. But those vaudevillian staples are precisely what playwright Mark Stein and composer Harley White Jr. use to tell the story of nine young black men who were falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931.
Through 11/14. $18–$42. Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark. raventheatre.com

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Duncan MacKenzie
Duncan MacKenzie Photo: Courtesy of Duncan MacKenzie

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: Duncan MacKenzie, assistant professor at Columbia College and co-founder of multi-platform arts journalism outlet Bad at Sports.

“My weekend is mostly going to be Expo. Local artist Claire Ashley will be doing an installation at our booth. Claire makes these sort of hyper-colored inflatable things. The original idea was that it would look like people were coming out of a cake—we’re coming up on the Bad at Sports’s 10 year anniversary and we wanted to celebrate in some way.

“Friday, we’re talking to the artists Laylah Ali and Nancy Lupo. I’ll also be going to the architectural exhibit Vacancy, opening at Glass Curtain Gallery. The reception is Friday night. And as an alumnus of SAIC, I’m excited about the alum show put together by Scott and Tyson Reeder. It promises to be strange and exciting.

“Saturday, I’m moderating a panel about video and performance, and how we look to artistically create and foster change. And then of course there’s Ren’s Birthday Bash [the Renaissance Society’s centennial celebration] on Saturday night. I expect that to be the ‘right’ place to be this weekend.

“When I’m not doing Expo, I’ll probably be sleeping or babysitting my infants up in Oak Park. One of the things about doing the local art fair is that you still have the rest of your life going on.” —As told to Hannah Nyhart

Freebie of the Week

Renegade Craft Fair

Festivals: You know it’s fall when this annual market sets up shop in Wicker Park. Highlights this year include a pop-up bike store, Pedal to People, which offers a quick fix for flat tires, and plenty of local eats from the likes of Mana Food Bar and Black Dog Gelato.
9/19–9/20. Free. Division between Damen and Paulina. renegadecraft.com/chicago/chicago-fair-details

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