Paradise Lost

The People’s Temple
Photo by Michael Brosilow

Thirty years ago, Jim Jones urged the residents of his “utopian” settlement in Jonestown, Guyana, to drink poison-spiked punch. In the three decades since, the event has lingered uncomfortably in the public memory: How did such a thing happen? Why? American Theater Company (1909 W.  Byron St.; 773-409-4125) doesn’t necessarily have the answers, but its new play The People’s Temple—from the creators of the Emmy-nominated The Laramie Project, which explored the hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard—aims to get at the backstory via material newly gathered from survivor interviews, archival audio, and video footage. Pay-what-you-can previews of the highly anticipated show run through Sunday the 7th; the play opens 8 p.m. Thursday the 11th and continues 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays through September 28th. Tickets are $35 to $40.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

It’s a week of serious subject matter, but Redmoon takes its medicine with a spoonful of sugar: The troupe’s production of the Australian import Dr. Egg and the Man with No Ear tackles ethical questions surrounding advances in biotechnology and genetics using, yes, puppetry. And they say the show is kid-friendly. We’re definitely curious. Opening night is Tuesday the 9th at Redmoon Central (1463 W. Hubbard St.; 312-850-8440); the production runs through October 19th. Tickets are $15 to $35.

And now for something completely different: In Dream Chicago, Steppenwolf ensemble members perform seven short pieces by big-name hometown contemporary writers (think Stuart Dybek and Sandra Cisneros) celebrating the spirit of the city. The show—6:30 p.m. Monday the 8th in Pritzker Pavilion (Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; 312-742-1168)—is part of Blockbuster Week in Millennium Park; find a full schedule at

Anyone who watched the Olympics heard Bob Costas mention that China’s population represents “one-fifth of humanity” roughly a billion times. If you still can’t picture exactly what that means, check out Multitude, the first U.S. exhibition of works by Qin Fengling. The Chinese artist squeezes hundreds of globs of paint onto canvases, creating tiny human figures that only begin to represent China’s masses. The show’s opening runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday the 5th at Kasia Kay Art Projects Gallery (1044 W. Fulton Market St.; 312-492-8828), and the exhibition hangs through October 11th.

Registration is closed, but watching fellow Chicagoans send their home-built flying machines over—or, rather, into—the lake on a wing and a prayer is free. Not to mention priceless. Red Bull Flugtag barrels into North Avenue Beach (North Avenue and the lakefront) Saturday the 6th starting at 1 p.m. Visit for details.

Those who overdid it on brats and beer last weekend can pedal away the extra pounds Sunday the 7th with the Boulevard Lakefront Tour. The annual bike ride comes in three sizes: The South Side Ramble is 15 miles; the Boulevard Tour is 35; and the Ultimate Neighborhood Ride sticks it out for a solid 62. Rides start and end on the Midway Plaisance in Hyde Park (just south of 59th street at Woodlawn Avenue). Day-of registration is $40; visit for route maps and more information.

He’s toured with Eric Clapton and the Allman Brothers, but slide-guitar savant Derek Trucks deserves his own time in the spotlight. Backed by his band, Trucks takes centerstage 7:30 p.m. Saturday the 6th at the Vic Theatre (3145 N. Sheffield Ave.). Tickets, $23, are still available at