For am interesting night at the theater and a chance to catch how playwrights view the world, get tickets to the Chicago One-Minute Play Festival, 8 p.m. June 26 or the 27th.
Audiences see different takes on current topics by about 70 Chicago playwrights. Known as 1MPF, the event will be at the Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.
“We’ve reached nine years of 1MPF in Chicago, at a cultural and political moment in our nation that is full of strife, uncertainty and a feeling that we are more divided than ever,” said 1MPF Producing Artistic Director Dominic D’Andrea.
Art fairs are a great excuse for forays to Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs. Fortunately, there are plenty to match destination and date. These are some of the area’s better, larger art festivals.
Memorial Day Weekend, May 26 & 27
Two annual festivals come up this weekend in the western suburbs: the Barrington Art Festival and the St. Charles fine Art Show.
Go to downtown Barrington from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to see about 130 artists along Cook & Station Streets. For more information visit Amdur Productions.
Or go downtown St. Charles Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to see about 100 artists on Riverside Avenue from Main Street (Hwy 64) to Illinois Avenue. For more information visit Downtown St. Charles.
The famed 57th Street Art Fair returns to Hyde Park for its 71st fair Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. There will be more than 250exhibitors near William H. ray Elementary School at 5631 S. Kimbark St. For more information visit 57 Street Fair.
There are three good art fair choices the second weekend of June. The Hinsdale Fine Arts Festival and two Near North mega fairs: Wells Street Art Festival and Old town Art Fair. Both have admission charges.
See about 130 artists in Hinsdale’s Burlington Park, 30 E. chicago Ave., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. For More information visit Hinsdale chamber.
Or go downtown St. Charles Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to see about 100 artists
Visit more than 225 exhibitors at the Wells Street Art Festival between North Avenue and Division Street, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information see Wells Street Art.
To stroll by an additionalt 250 exhibitors stay in the area and go over to the Old Town Triangle in the 1800 block of Orleans Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information visit Old Town Fair. June 16-17
A couple of large art festivals return each year on the third weekend of June, one in Evanston and the other in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Evanston hosts Custer’s Last Stand an arts with an “s” festival in the Main Street Shopping area sponsored by the Evanston Festival Theatre. Visit with about 375 exhibitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. For more information visit Custer Fair.
At the Gold Coast Art Fair, held the past few years in Grant Park’s Butler Field, see about 300 artists from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. For more information visit Amdur Productions.
For Head for the northern suburbs for art festivals in Highland Park and Evanston the fourth weekend of June.
The Art center (TAC) holds its annual Fetival of Fine Arts along sheridan Road east of the Metra traks downtown Highland Park 10 a.n. to 5 p.m. both days. This is a relatively small fair but it has high quality artists.For more information visit Amdur Productions.
The Evanston Chamber Artisan Summerfest features 225 exhibitors at Sherman Avenue and Church Street, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information visit Evanston Festivals.
June 29 – July 1
An art festival based on a garden theme takes place in Glencoe the last weekend of June.
About 100 artists show at the Chicago Botanic Garden Art Festival in the Esplande area from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. both days. For more information visit Amdur Productions.
Chicago’s sophisticated theater audience has seen and admired gymnastically able actors, puppetry and story-telling-style body motions at such influential theater venues as Lookingglass, Chicago Shakespeare and Writers Theatre.
However, the Physical Festival Chicago, coming to Stage 773 June 1 through June 9, 2018, is a chance to see what is happening in those and other exciting genres on the international and Chicago scene.
Among the productions are “Nobody’s Home” by United Kingdom’s Theatre Témoin and Grafted Cede that places PTSD into Homer’s Odyssey, solo puppet and mask performances by Theatre Zarko’s (Evanston) Michael Montenegro and Franco-Brazilian Gael le Cornec’s thriller “The Other.”
“It’s all original work created by each company,” said Marc Frost who co-founded the festival in 2014 with wife Alice da Cunha. They met in London while studying at London International School of Performing Arts. Commonly known as LISP, the school recently relocated in Berlin.
Chicago audiences may have seen da Cunha in House Theatre’s Jeff award winning “United Flight 232.” Frost will be bringing the national touring company of Theater Unspeakable’s two current productions, one about the American Revolution and the other a moon shot, to the Kennedy Center fall, 2018.
Theater companies from around the world who apply each year are curated by the couple to bring a balance of genres.
“It can be puppets. It can be bouffon,” said da Cunha.
They explain that Michael Montenegro is a puppeteer but his Theatre Zarko is not traditional and Gael le Cornec uses projections and shadow puppetry in “The Other.” Bouffon is the late night show “The Red Bastard: Lie With Me.”
Frost said, “We have said physical to start with but now have added visual and contemporary. We are trying to bring to Chicago shows of the kind not seen very often.”
He liked that an actor’s body could become scenery and or props to tell a story. In “The ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha” by the Spain/UK-based Little Soldier Productions, an actor uses his body to put across the Cervantes’ tale.
“He is using the body to express much of the text. It shows what the body can express,” said Frost.
Physical Festival also includes workshops. Among them “How to audition for “Cirque du Soleil” and one by le Cronec on how to create a solo work.
Head over to the Chicago Botanic Garden before Spike, a nearly seven-foot tall flower, is moved from the semitropical display greenhouse back to its production home on the grounds.
Called the corpse flower because of its rotting garbage odor when it blooms, Spike’s real designation is Amorphophallus titanium (titan arum).
Spike fully opened to show off its huge flower with burgundy fringe (spathe) and emitted its telltale smell on April 26.
But even though it is now closing and the odor has mostly dissipated, a bit of colorful fringe can still be seen. And, after all, a flower this tall, the largest corpse flower to bloom at the Botanic Garden, is still a site to behold.
“It certainly is something to see. You can still see the burgundy color of its spathe and then turn around and read about it in the posters,” said Botanic Garden outdoor floriculturist Tim Pollak.
“It’s never going to close tightly,” Pollak said. He thought Spike might stay on display through the weekend and possibly move on Monday or early next week.
When moved, it will go dormant then start the cycle over from having its corm (bulb) repotted to leafing out and regaining the energy needed to bloom.
“Next time it will be big, the corm will be big. This weight was over 100 pounds. Then in three to five years it may bloom again.
With Mother Nature, you don’t know. Spike did try to bloom in August, 2015 but didn’t seem to have enough energy to open.
To see what a corpse flower looks like when leafing, go next door to the tropical greenhouse. The plant looks like a tree and has a number, not a name.
“We don’t name them until they flower,” Pollak said.
No matter how dismal April has been (minus one great beach day) Spring is in the air. You know that because organizations and institutions such as the Shedd Aquarium are celebrating Earth Week with a clean-up day April 21, because One of A Kind Spring Show will be back at the Mart with lots of gift ideas for Mother’s Day, friends and family and because it’s time to fly a kite in Lincoln Park.
Shedd gets down and dirty for Earth Week
Shedd, working with a GLAD team (Great Lakes Action Days) is looking for volunteers at some specifically designated beaches from 10:30 a.m.to noon on April 21. For beaches in the program and how to sign up visit GLAD or call (312) 692-3330. You’ll be GLAD you did. For more Shedd info visit Shedd Aquarium Conservation.
Think art, gifts and craft demonstrations
The One of a Kind Spring Show ® returns to the Merchandise Mart April 27-29, 2018. This year’s show features more than 300 art and gift booths and the Lillstreet Art Center’s demonstrations and hands-on activigties. The Merchandise Mart is at 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza on the northside of the Chicago River west of Wells Street. For more information visit One of a kind show.
Kites fly on Cricket Hill
Kites will be flying high on Lincoln Park’s Cricket Hill (Montrose and Wilson)May 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Lake Shore Drive between Montrose and Wilson). Fine if you have a favorite kite but if not Chicago Kite will be selling kites. Part of the fun though of going is too watch professional kite flying demonstrations with unusual kites. For more information visit Chicago Kids and Kites.
Listen up Penguin lovers. April 21 is World Penguin Day so Brookfield Zoo is celebrating with special events from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Stop by the Living Coast area where the Humboldt penguins reside. The first 1,000 children to participate in the activities get a World Penguin Day ID wristband similar in color to those the penguins wear. Youngsters can find the matching penguin color on the ID guide at the Living coast’s Rocky Shores habitat.
The penguins will be fed at 10:30 a.m. and again at 3:30 p.m. These are good times to hear about the penguins because there will also be “Zoo Chats” about Brookfield’s penguin colony. Other good times to hang out at their habitat are noon and 1:30 when the staff does enrichment with the penguins and answer visitors’ questions.
To see some penguins paint, be at these “artists’” habitat for their watercolor activity from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. To win one of three paintings made that day, visitors, age 13 or older, can enter a drawing held between 9 a.m. April 11 through 5 p.m. April 25 at CZS.org/PenguinDay. Winners will be announced on the zoo’s Facebook page and website April 26.
A fun activity, is to try walking like a penguin parent who has to balance an egg on the feet to protect it.. Replica eggs will be available and penguin artifacts from volunteers at an information station.
Zoo admission includes Penguin Day activities and is $21.95 adults and $15.95 children aged 3 to 11 and seniors 65 and over. Children 2 and under are admitted free. Parking is $14. Brookfield Zoo is at 8400 31st Street, Brookfield. For more information about World Penguin Day at Brookfield Zoo, visit CZS.org/Events or call (708) 688-8000.
Taste of Iceland has taken over Chicago for a four-day festival of Icelandic cuisine, art and culture.
Among the events was an architecture talk and vodka tasting at Marshall’s Landing in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. The Mart overlooks a splendid view of the riverfront with examples of Chicago’s own stunning architecture just outside the window.
There, we visited a presentation by Halla Helgadottir, Managing Director of the Iceland Design Centre Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Centre has the distinction of being the most visited museum “per capita” of any museum in the world, the joke being that with Iceland’s small population it is estimated that more than 10% of the nation has visited the museum.
Helgadottir shared photos of several of Iceland’s architectural points of interest including the Harpa Concert Hall whose exterior looks as though it has been chiseled out of a giant sold piece of crystal clear ice.
Conversely, there was a photo of a farm house that was built largely underground and was reminiscent of the dugouts built by prairie pioneers in Kansas and other parts of the Midwest during the great westward expansion in the U.S.
Like the prairie pioneers, the Icelanders have precious little wood so alternative building options are required.
Four-day tickets to the mega (more than 170 performances) music festival at Grant Park, Chicago, Aug. 2-5 are on sale at 10 a.m. today, March 20, 2018. It features more than 170 performances from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.