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Chicago Notes: Spukt, Sweat Girls, Mr. Fluxus, Andy Bayiates, and More

November 10th, 2007 · No Comments · Astrology, Blogs, Books, Chicago, Comedy, Culture, Fantasy, Fiction, Foreign Policy, Fringe, History, Journal, Lit, Neo-Futurists, News, Performance, Politics, Theater

It’s been ages since I’ve done one of these little Chicago roundups, but there are so many head-splittingly good things going on this week that it seems like a dandy time to reinstate the tradition.

Spukt poster• First up, this weekend is the opening of the brand-new Theater Oobleck show Spukt, written by the mercurial Dave Buchen. It’s got a top-shelf cast that includes David Kodeski, Guy Massey, Diana Slickman, Rachel Claff, and Michael Brownlee, with music by Christopher Schoen, Tony Atoms, and Heather Riordan (on the squeezebox, I assume).

Spukt uses Napoleon’s 1798 invasion of Egypt as a jumping-off point for Oobleck’s usual sharp mix of politics, satire, and surrealism. Speaking as an erstwhile Oobleckian myself, I think this one looks like a don’t-miss. Admit it, you’ve been dreaming of David Kodeski in a little Napoleon suit for months now, and finally you have a way to explain it!

Well, then. Here are the hard details:

Theater Oobleck presents Spukt
Opening Friday, November 9, Thurs – Sat 8pm
at The Viaduct, 3111 N. Western Avenue, Chicago
No performances Thanksgiving Weekend, November 22 – 24
$12 suggested donation, more if you got it, free if you’re broke.

Please make reservations by e-mail, or if it’s less than 24 hours before the show, by phone at 773-347-1041. More info at TheaterOobleck.com.

But wait, there’s more! The special 2pm Sunday matinee performance this weekend includes a discussion with Juan Cole, one of the smartest guys on the whole darn Interweb, and the author of the book Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East. The discussion will be moderated by Chuck Mertz, host of the This Is Hell radio show on WNUR-FM. Sunday matinees aren’t usually my scene, but I think I’m gonna try to make it to this one.

• Meanwhile, the Sweat Girls, Chicago’s wildly popular all-female monologue troupe, are in the midst of the run for their latest show Sweatily Ever After up at the Raven Theatre at Clark & Granville in Edgewater. I caught the show opening weekend, and although (full disclosure) I am the Girls’ Webmeister so I might be an eeeeensy bit biased, I found it to be their usual entertaining and poignant mix of disarmingly direct personal storytelling and charmingly salty humor. And I have to say the music for this show is just superb. The Sunday matinees include a special prologue dance by Julia Mayer, called Once Upon. You’ve got one more weekend after this one — go see it.

October 21 through November 18
Sundays at 3:30 PM, and Fridays & Saturdays at 8:30 PM
on the West Stage at the Raven Theatre Complex,
6157 N. Clark St. (Granville & Clark), Chicago
Tickets: All shows $20
Reservations: 773-868-4620

• Back in the mid-90s when the MCA hosted that fabtrabulous Fluxus exhibition that originated at the fabtrabulous Walker Art Center, many of the then-current Neos spent a lot of very happy time playing there, sticking our hands into mysterious boxes, playing strange objects pressed into service as musical instruments, and reading all of Ben Vautier’s brilliant little notes from the storefront window where he installed himself as a Fluxus happening. For those of us already familiar with Fluxus, it solidified a sense of the connection between what the Fluxians had done in the 60s and what The Neo-Futurists were doing in the 90s. For others it was a source of new inspiration. As an old Yoko Ono fan, the show gave me a new sense of context for the humor and imagination of her art-world work. At any rate, Greg Allen is doing his best to recreate the Fluxus magic under the Neo-Futurist roof with the newest show over at The Neo-Futurarium, Mr. Fluxus. It opened last weekend and runs through December 8.

I haven’t seen it yet, but Jim over at empty-handed.com gives it a thumbs up, and you know how much he hates The Neo-Futurists.

• Some of you may know that Neo-Futurist alumnus Andy Bayiates, who is multi-talented and smart as paint, was the astrology columnist at Time Out Chicago for the last few years. Andy has a humanistic, free-will based approach to the astrological work he does — somewhat in the vein of the Wild Planets column I wrote back in the late 90s, for those who remember that. Anyhow, Andy ended his column at TOC a couple of months ago, and has now set up an interesting new project called First Person Astrology. I’ll let him describe it in his own words:

It’s the first and only site that offers custom weekly horoscopes based on your exact time/place of birth (as in real astrology). The forecasts are emailed (by me) to your inbox every Sunday. I offer a free, four-week, no-strings-attached, no credit-card-info-taken trial. And if you want to buy it’s dirt, dirt cheap.

Andy really does his homework and if you’re an astrology-receptive person, I think you’ll enjoy what he does. Pay him a visit to learn more.

• Fantasy fiction with a female sensibility: Speaking of Diana Slickman, as I was a couple-three items back, these days Diana works for a local small press named Agate Publishing, and she has hipped me to an upcoming reading at Women and Children First bookstore by a Chicago-based fantasy author named Alaya Dawn Johnson, whose novel Racing the Dark has just been published by Agate. The book looks like an interesting read and I’ve got it toward the top of my stack. Publisher Doug Seibold writes, “Racing the Dark expresses a distinctive female sensibility in a genre dominated, for the most part, by male perspectives. I believe this book has the potential to be an Eragon for female readers because of the way all aspects of the book, from the characters to the ‘world-building’ to the plot, are suffused with a female orientation to life and meaning.”

The reading is this Wednesday evening, November 14 at 7:30pm, and full details are on the Women and Children First site.


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