Unleash the Rhino!! (a festivus for the restofus)


Okay, Chicago theatergoers, time to get your fringe on



Written by Paige Listerud

Curious Theatre Branch opened its 22nd Annual Rhinoceros Theatre Festival this past Friday, January 14th, drawing hundreds of avant-garde theater artists from around the country to showcase over 20 off-beat and experimental works and performances at the Prop Theatre space. Curious Theatre remounts Sarah Kane’s critically acclaimed 4:48 Psychosis under the direction of Beau O’Reilly, plus an adaptation of Gertrude Stein’s little known play, Mexico. Expect mind-opening and consciousness-bending theater experiences from School for Designing a Society, Deja Links, Strange Lupus, BoyGirlBoyGirl, The Whiskey Rebellion and many, many more.

“We’ve struck an interesting balance between past and future with this festival,” explains Beau O’Reilly. “We decided to accept Deja Links—they’re a continuation of Club Lower Links which Leigh Jones ran in the 1990s. Even though Rhino Fest began around the same time, they’re really pre-Rhino and a lot of performance art was generated out of there. It’s where Ira Glass and David Sedaris got started. So, we have a significant number of people represented from that period—older artists doing some very mature and complete work, like Lisa Fay and Jeff Glassman Duo and then, of course, we showcase some student work from the SAIC and full-length work from young writers.”

Curious Theatre also kicked off the Fest with a benefit opening night–the Full Moon Vaudeville, hosted by Curious and the Crooked Mouth String Band.



Rhino Festival Schedule

for more information, visit the Rhino Festival website

All tickets $12 in advance, $15 at the door  |  Buy tickets  |   See calendar.


Curious Theatre Branch presents

4:48 Psychosis

By Sarah Kane

Sarah Kane’s last play returns in a critically acclaimed production directed by Beau O’Reilly.

The play charts the journey from life into death, from darkness into light, from pain into love.Spiked with gallous humor, the play charts the journey from life into death, from darkness into light, from pain into love. Talk back / post show panel discussion with director John Moletress, the cast and crew and invited guest speakers (TBA).Spiked with gallous humor, the play charts the journey from life into death, from darkness into light, from pain into love Spiked with gallous humor, the play charts the journey from life into death, from darkness into light, from pain into loveSpiked with gallous humor, the play charts the journey from life into death, from darkness into light, from pain into love

Performance Dates: Friday, January, 14, 21, 28, February 4, 11.  All dates at 7pm

School for Designing A Society presents

10 to 4

directed by Susan Parenti

An acoustic play which twists shards of political activism and thought’s aging into the brain of language.

Saturday, January 29 and Sunday, January 30 at 7pm

Lisa Fay & Jeff Glassman Duo presents


Dense theater shorts in which ‘natural-looking’ behavior is subjected to contortions, subversions and convolutions, letting ‘natural’ show its socially constructed face.

Friday, January 21, Saturday, January 22 and Sunday, January 23 at 7pm


See the rest of the schedule after the jump.



Deja Links

A cabaret performance art series celebrating the mind altering, gender bending, and genre confusion that the performance art/music club Lower Links became legendary for. Friday, January 21, Friday, January 28, Friday, February 4, Friday, February 11, 9pm

Curious Theatre Branch presents

The Flowers Are Dead/All That Fall

The Flowers Are Dead is a modern depression-era tragic comedy about two families connected only by the stealing of a bicycle. All That Fall, written for the radio and rarely performed, continues Curious’s ongoing investigations of Beckett’s work.

Saturday, January 15 and Sunday, January 16, 7pm

Barrie Cole presents

Fruit Tree Backpack

A revised and expanded version of Barrie Cole’s interconnected short plays centering on the gift, burdens, and ultimate limitations of intimacy (and packing tape)

Monday, January 17 at 7pm and Monday, January 24, 31, February 7, all at 9pm

Edward Thomas-Herrera presents

Hell Is for the Very Hot

A beautiful blonde marries a multi-millionaire after a whirlwind romance—only to find herself enmeshed in a torrid love affair with a handsome stranger who hides a lurid secret. Hilarity ensues in this staged reading of a new musical by Edward Thomas-Herrera with music by Bonnie Shadrake. Sunday, January 16, 3pm

Strange Lupus presents

Lemonade Stand

by Jordan Scrivner

While walking on the surface of the moon, astronaut Alexander Russell takes a wrong turn and finds himself on asteroid L.S. 161. Hurtling through deep space near the Crab Nebula at fifty six thousand miles an hour he meets Laura, a mysterious being who runs her own lemonade stand.

Thursday, January 20, 27, February 3 and 10, 7pm

Found Objects Theatre Group presents


by Chris Bower, Directed by Kevlyn Hayes

A man comically estranged from his family has something more important to worry about: a restraining order that keeps him from his son’s high school football games. A tragic sitcom of rage, disguises, wet grass, and whispers.

Dr. Huckleberry Persimmon Explains Very Little for You!

by Mark Chrisler Dr. Huckleberry Persimmon sold his mind to a demon in exchange for genius, for the possibility of just one sublime idea. But instead of great intellect, he was cursed with a finite number of thoughts—and now, with a mere forty-two concepts left, he struggles to create one significant enough to live on through the ages. Both on Saturday, January 15, Saturday, January 29 and Saturday, February 5, 9pm

BoyGirlBoyGirl presents

Massive Fireball Reported Across Midwestern Sky

This past April, online news outlet CNN.com reported that authorities in several Midwestern states were overwhelmed with calls describing a huge fireball illuminating the evening sky. The ball of flame was accompanied by a sonic boom that shook wind chimes and rattled residents of the flyover for miles around. The fireball is the jumping-off point for BoyGirlBoyGirl’s meditation on forces of nature, unidentified flying objects, uncontrollable rage, and various other incendiaries.

Saturday, January 15, 22 and 29, 9pm

Curious Theatre Branch presents


A play written by Gertrude Stein in 1916. A play by Gertrude Stein reimagined and liberally edited by Curious Theatre Branch in 2011. A play song city street exploring how communities disintegrate and are rebuilt, how rituals sustain and fail us, and how language traps and liberates us.

Sunday, January 16, 23, 30, February 6, 13 – 7pm

The Laboratory for the Development of Substitute Materials presents

Mirror City: A Phantom Experiment

A confusion of medical case study, living room slideshow, and amateur variety hour, The LDSM holds its odd theatrical mirror up to these anonymous subjects in order to sort out how it can still ache in places that no longer exist.

Friday, February 4; Saturday, February 5; Sunday, February 6, 7pm

Bruised Orange Theater presents

Poverty: The Musical

Daniel and Sylvia find themselves going from upper-middle class to destitute in the blink of an eye. Their struggle to make peace with the pieces of their new indigent existence involves singing, dancing, dumpster diving seminars, and conflict with GAIA Earth deposit stations.

Friday, January 14 at 9pm; Saturday, January 15, Saturday, January 22, Saturday, January 29, Saturday, February 5, Saturday, February 12-all at 7pm

The Whiskey Rebellion presents

Sign of Rain

by Jessica Wright

Sign of Rain is an American parable of escape, the elements one can’t escape from, and The West. A girl suffers extreme consequences for a single action, which only compound as she tries to leave them behind. Her story, and the stories of those she meets in her journey, is told through live music, puppetry, and a small ensemble cast. Will her fortune be drowned by her fate?

Monday, January 17, 24, 31, February 7 – 7pm

Rhino After-Hours:


Southsol is a five-piece rock band, coming out of Humboldt Park, which fuses elements of rock and post-rock with hip-hop, Latin rock, and soul. They play all vintage instruments, a Moog synthesizer, and feature a Bomba drum in its progression section. Saturday, January 22, 11pm

Two Weeks Productions presents

The Spores of Eden

By Peter Axel Komistra, Director Dylan S. Roberts

Two women try to outlast each other with decaying food.

Saturday, January 22, 29, February 5, 12 – 3pm

Pigeons With Teeth presents

Wishes, Whys & Secrets

Wishes, Whys and Secrets is the culmination of two workshops in Performance Poetry and Original Performance. All participants are homeschoolers. Anything else they have in common is purely coincidental. No harm came to any squirrels during the creation of this piece. Saturday, January 29, Saturday, February 5, 3pm

Tympanic Theatre presents


by Mary Laws

Rooted in intensely poetic language, this world premiere uses modernized characters and imagery from the work of Lewis Carroll to depict a tragic romance between two misfits.

Thursday, January 20, 27, February 3, 10 – 9pm

Judith Harding & Julie Laffin present

The Aquatic Chronicles

by Judith Harding

Harper Lee meets Joseph Campbell in this diptych comprised of Relationboat, a performance in which Harding plunges the depths of her middle-aged relationship with Boo Radley, and R + R, a video by Julie Laffin, written and voiced by Harding, about an earthy mermaid, a prince with a fish fetish and an environmentally mutated frog who loves to hitchhike.

Friday, February 11, Saturday, February 12, Sunday, February 13, 7pm

Mark Chrisler presents

The Art of Painting

The Art of Painting is a story of sex, Nazis, philosophy, forgery, patricide, creation, deception, art, authenticity, rue, rue and rue all presented with the same eye for false historical verisimilitude that its sources pretended to demand.

Friday, February 4, 9pm

Shalaka Kulkarni presents

A Carnival of Voices

A Carnival of Voices is a performance driven by hybridity that explores identity, culture and displacement.

Monday, January 24, 7pm

Columbia InterArts Showcase

Students from the Interdisciplinary Arts Dept of Columbia College Chicago present new work involving performance media. From old school slides to upscale sensors, these students work with text, image and performance. Sunday, January 23, 3pm

Film/Video Showcase

Various Artists

Curious artists explore the narrative and experimental sides of new media in this showcase of film and video work. Sunday, January 30, Friday, February 6, Friday, February 13, 3pm

Cristal Sabbagh presents


Kluteny is an interdisciplinary movement performance inspired by the volatility of toddler emotions.

Monday, January 17, 24 – 7pm

Chris Sullivan presents

The Outer Giants and Their Moon

A performance about an outpost on Mimus, one of the moons of Saturn, about writing love letters and correspondences to the dead, and the lost,

Friday, January 29, Friday, February 11, 9pm

Jessica Hannah presents

Recall: An Aromatic Interactive Performance

Recall is an interactive performance with aroma. Take a trip down memory lane as one woman dives into the past through scent. What does a woman choose to remember and forget? Audiences will smell along the way in this funny, poignant poke at the nose.

Monday, January 17, 24, 31, Monday, February 7, 7pm

SAIC Student Showcase

New Work from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago present new work in writing and performance. Sunday, January 16, 3pm

Ian Belknap

Write Club

Write Club is the bastard son of pro wrestling and poetry slams. Write Club will splice the genes of the bad-ass and the brainiac. Write Club is what happens when the gloves come off. To the winning idea goes the glory. The losing idea gets to pick its teeth off the canvas. Saturday, February 5, Saturday, February 12, 9pm

Closing Night Vaudeville


The 2011 Rhinoceros Theater Festival closes with music—a lot of bands and a lot of singing, singing, singing. February 13, 9pm


About Curious Theatre Branch

Founded in 1988 by Jenny Magnus and Beau O’Reilly, as the Curious Theatre “Branch” of the alt-rock cabaret act Maestro Subgum and the Whole, Curious has consistently worked with an ensemble of artists in a non-hierarchical decision-making process, through which the philosophy of collaboration as a social force is explored on every level.

Curious has produced more than 100 full productions of world-premiere plays in 20 years, including Jenny Magnus’s Round and Round: a sexfarcetragedy, Bryn Magnus’s Love Horse, Shawn Reddy’s White Suit Science and Beau O’Reilly’s The Madelyn Trilogy.


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