THE VIOLET HOUR  Black Violet features projected illustrations by Ezra Claytan Daniels and live music by the Fifth House Ensemble.
THE VIOLET HOUR  Black Violet features illustrations by Ezra Claytan Daniels and live music by the Fifth House Ensemble.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 09.30.09 through Tue 10.06.09:


classical Black Violet
The classical group Fifth House Ensemble teams up with the local graphic novelist Ezra Claytan Daniels to present the first installment of Black Violet. A highly original three-act production about a housecat who must fend for herself when the Great Plague hits London, Violet features Daniels’s projected illustrations set to live music by Brahms, Shostakovich, Harbison, and Wagner. A couple of bonuses: The October 6th performance is free, while the October 8th performance includes a free beer and cheese reception (best not to ponder the links between cheese, rats, and the plague) with the musicians before the show, at 7:30.
GO: Oct 6 at 7: Free. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E Washington. Oct 8 at 8: $12-$25. SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave, Evanston.


theatre The Mercy Seat
Playwright Neil LaBute hearts Profiles. ("I’m lucky to work with them. They understand my work," he said last year.) The mutual admiration society continues as Joe Jahraus directs LaBute’s latest, a typically dark relationship drama set on 9/12/01. Expect black humor, intensity, and maybe even LaBute checking things out from the audience.
GO: Previews through Sep 30; Regular run continues through Nov 15. $30-$35. Profiles Theatre, 4147 N Broadway.


theatre Deathscribe 2009, Rhymes with Evil
Get in the Halloween mood early with two frighteningly original stagings. First up: Serial killers! Bloody hatchets! Foley artists! Deathscribe, Wildclaw Theatre’s second annual festival of radio plays, features a corps(e) of splatter ‘n’ schlock horrormeisters. And then there’s Rhymes with Evil: Charles Traeger’s story of a stay-at-home dad is a solid argument against breeding. Think The Bad Seed—with puppets.
GO: Deathscribe: Oct 5 at 8. $15-$20. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport. Rhymes with Evil: Previews Oct 5-7; regular run continues through Nov 8. $15-$25. Infusion Theatre at Storefront Theater, 66 E Randolph.


dance Paul Taylor Dance Company
Tickets are sold out for Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s run this week at the Dance Center (well, basically; call for last-minute availability: 312-369-8330), but you can still catch Paul Taylor Dance Company—helmed by a choreographer our dance writer Lucia Mauro calls "one of the most eclectic, virtuosic, and sardonic of our time"—in a brief stop in the ‘burbs. Other Cunningham alternatives: Nora Chipaumire at the MCA, Links Hall‘s 30th birthday bash, Hubbard Street at the Harris.
GO: PTDC: Oct 1 at 8. $36-$46. McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd.


farrago Flatwater Classic
Looking for a pummeling now that marathon registration has closed? Sign on for this canoe/kayak on the Chicago River, but beware: 7.25 miles by paddle only sounds shorter than 26-plus miles on foot.
GO: Oct 4 at 10. $15-$30. From Clark Park, 3400 N Rockwell, to Ping Tom Memorial Park, 300 W 19th.


farrago Midwest Microfest
Free beer. Yep, you read that right: Show up at Millennium Park Saturday and sip samples from Bell’s, Two Brothers, Capital, Three Floyds, Goose Island, Metropolitan, Lakefront, and Dark Horse breweries—a perfect prelude to catching the equally free Miranda Lambert concert at 7:30 in nearby Grant Park. (Read more about regional microbrews in our 2008 article "Draft Picks.")
GO: Oct 3 from noon to 7. The Plaza at Park Grill, south tent, Michigan and Washington.

galleries The Blago Project
What’s just as irresistible as free beer? Touring Blago’s onetime campaign offices, site of the infamous Wire Tapping Incident. For one weekend only, local artists display works dedicated to the ex-gov in the former home of Friends of Blagojevich as part of the annual Ravenswood Artwalk. Go head: Indulge your curiosity. We’re not here to judge (unless your name is Blagojevich).
GO: Oct 3, 4 from 11 to 6. 4147 N Ravenswood.

museums Heartland
For this new exhibition, the unlikely cocurators and road-trip mates Stephanie Smith (of the Smart) and two counterparts from the Netherlands’ Van Abbemuseum (the show’s instigating institution, in a burst of brilliant if surprising foresight) crisscrossed the Midwest, auditioning artists who redefine America’s often overlooked midsection. The result, which opens here with a slew of special events following a stint abroad, reveals the whimsical, the beautiful, and the bizarre in our own backyard.
GO: Opening reception Oct 1 at 5:30. Exhibition continues through Jan 17. See website for more events. Smart Museum of Art, U of C, 5550 S Greenwood.

illustration: Ezra Claytan Daniels