Tympanic Ensemble announces their 4th Season

Daniel Caffrey, Artistic Director of Tympanic Theatre, has announced Tympanic Theatre’s fourth season, which will continue their residency at The Side Project.  Tympanic’s upcoming season of new work features plays by long-standing Tympanic collaborator Joshua Mikel (writer of the NYC Fringe hit Good Good Trouble On Bad Bad Island) and Randall Colburn (Pretty Penny, Hesperia, and the upcoming Ghost Boxes and Half Shut). The company will continue joining exciting creative forces with Adam Webster, Artistic Director of The Side Project. 

 

Tympanic Ensemble Theatre’s

2010-2011 Season

 

Muerto

Muerte Del Maestro by Joshua Mikel

November 28th – December 22nd, 2010
Sundays at 7pm, Mondays through Wednesdays at 8pm at The Side Project (1439 W. Jarvis Ave.)

Set against the savage backdrop of the bullfighting world in Atlantia, Spain, Muerte Del Maestro tells the story of Arturo and Kay Kay, two best friends who are pushed to bitter ends after the death of famed matador La Muerte Negra, as they both seek the notorious matador’s vacant throne. This thrilling piece will be directed by Adam Webster, Artistic Director of The Side Project.

 

 

verse chorus verse

Verse Chorus Verse by Randall Colburn

April 7th – May 1st, 2011 

Thursdays through Sundays at 8pm at The Side Project (1439 W. Jarvis Ave.)

Twenty years after the death of Kurt Cobain, media attention is drawn to an up-and-coming musical artist who may be the reincarnation of the deceased rock legend. When a former lover of Cobain’s emerges from the past, she pulls the musician and several others into another dimension in an attempt to revitalize Cobain completely, but instead uncovers unsettling truths about addiction, destiny, and rebirth. Verse Chorus Verse will be part of a unique workshop process this Winter, culminating in a publicly staged reading at the end of January 2011, prior to its full production in April, which opens on the anniversary weekend of Cobain’s death.

Tympanic Theater annnouces 4th Season in Chicago

REVIEW: Dental Society Midwinter Meeting (Chicago Dramatists)

Dentists extract some painful truths

 

dsmw - cast

   
Chicago Dramatists presents
   
Dental Society Midwinter Meeting
   
Written by Laura Jacqmin
Directed by
Megan Shuchman
at
Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago (map)
through August 7th  |  tickets: $25  |  more info

reviewed by Lawrence Bommer

This is not this season’s most exciting title, but then the world of dentists isn’t exactly fraught with incident. Dental Society Midwinter Meeting is just that—a carefully chronicled, day-by-day depiction of a real convention, an annual conference of dentists where practitioners catch up on the profession’s latest developments, ethical challenges (insurance fraud and drug abuse), and party heart with conventioneers’ jubilation. Though the Chicago Dental Society’s conference is held at McCormick dsmm - 1 Place in February, playwright Laura Jacqmin moves the 6,000 dentists (and 12,000 vendors who prey on them) to the Skokie Marriott, if only to maintain a safe distance from any possible litigation by the C.D.S.

A true ensemble work, Megan Shuchman’s 80-minute world premiere staging presents the entire meeting through the playful testimony of six participants. We get hour by hour updates on the shenanigans and crises of doctors beset by more than just the problem of paying for central air conditioning or correctly coding their invoices to insurers. The male dentists indulge in male fantasies of wilderness adventure as they shop for hunters’ vests at Old Orchard’s L.L. Bean store. The surgeons munch Panera bread as they exchange gossip. One tries to free herself from an unscrupulous vendor whose tooth whitener is toxic. They sing karaoke (horribly) as they shake their booties on Saturday night.

This year’s conference is beset by a scandal in which the president of the North Shore Regional Dental Society has been caught in adultery with his comely dental hygienist; worse, he’s allowed her to practice advance dental procedures without a license. (Nothing really comes of this red herring.) The dentists are also supposedly caught up in late night discussions on how to clean up their leader’s act and their trade’s questionable image. Can they reform such a morally challenged pursuit?

Other problems fraught with insider details concern a gay dentist whose partner has been caught cheating on his lover’s billing practices. He in turn finds himself sexually manipulated in order to help a colleague in similar hot water.

dentists chicago dramatists castJacqmin certainly knows this medical subculture and examines it compassionately in what amounts to a keyhole-peeping expose. But she’s after more toothy substance than just a breakdown of breakout meetings and keynote speeches. By play’s end, Jacqmin implies that all their talk of self-regulation and moral uplift will, well, decay as the dentists’ bad habits undermine their best intentions. American professionals, it seems, are as trapped by short-sighted and short-term thinking as our corporate overseers.

The real payoff here is no artificially happy resolution of intractable problems but a very believable look at good folks working at cross-purposes to raise standards as much as fees.

    
    
Rating: ★★★
   
    

NOTE: No one under 14 years old will be admitted.

 

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REVIEW: Madeleine Remains (Clove Productions)

How an epic fail can destroy a delicacy

 

clove productions poster

  
Clove Productions presents
   
Madeleine Remains
  
Written by Michael Martin
Directed by Shannon Evans
at the side project, 1439 W. Jarvis (map)
through July 17th  |  tickets: $12   |  more info

reviewed by Paige Listerud

Michael Martin’s new one-woman play, MADELEINE REMAINS: In Memory, A Wife of Genius, is quite a casual production at the side project theatre in Rogers Park. Not that that’s a bad thing. A certain community sensibility pervades the scene at Clove Productions. A feeling of comfort, casualness, and ease exudes from the presence of madeleine remains close friends, family, and long-time theatre compatriots in attendance. This is intimate theater in Chicago in the warm summer air. Here, new works in progress receive a low-key reception, profoundly appreciative of small and delicate work.

Directed by Shannon Evans and produced by Clove Productions, small and delicate is precisely how one should describe Madeleine Remains. It could also be called fine art comedy, since its humor is as ornate and fine-spun as filigree silver jewelry.

The wife of Andre Gide is explaining her life as the simple, unadorned and introverted muse of a modern literary genius. She is also the turn-of-the-century wife to a deeply closeted gay author. His love for her is of a heightened spiritual kind that has no need for earthly passion—or so he tells her when they marry. He even writes love letters to her, which he claims are his finest literary creations. Too bad the ethereal romance of their marriage shows its feet of clay when Andre runs off for a long romance with 16 year-old Mark. This leads Madeleine to burn Andre’s spiritual love letters, but not before she has committed each and every one of them to memory.

One would think this kind of monologue would be burdened with melodramatic histrionics. But Martin’s writing is more cunning than that and in Ariel Brenner he has an actress precisely cast for the role. Brenner has captured Madeleine’s every quiet, unimposing introverted tic and created a comic tour de force with her perfectly timed execution of Martin’s lines. It’s as if Brenner had invented “Less is More” with her exacting portrayal of Madeleine’s subtle personality and exquisitely demur ego.

Sadly, on the night I witnessed the production, an epic fail overthrew all that exquisite work. Brenner stalled right in the middle of the monologue, visibly retreated into her chair, and simply could not recover. A generous and ardent admirer from the audience took her hand and led her from the stage so that she could collect herself. Brenner returned to the stage, the rest of the script in hand, and picked up about where she had left off, relying on the script the rest of the way.

It’s truly difficult to assess the rest of Martin’s work from these unfortunate circumstances. Much of the well-established comic timing that Brenner had slain with was lost. Near the end, Madeleine remarks to the audience that she could recite the content of Andre’s love letters to them, but she refuses to do so until the audience comes to visit again. The ending seemed strikingly flat compared to such a light, bold, and promising beginning. Perhaps Martin would not like to imitate the writing style of Andre Gide by reproducing such an infamous lost text in his script. However, it would be nice to know what Madeleine thinks of a love that is based on airy nothingness—whether she thinks it greater or lesser than the earthly kind.

  
   
Rating: ★★
  
  

Review: Eclipse Theatre’s “Six Degrees of Separation”

 Relationships Have Their Limits 

 L-R: Paul (Michael Pogue) describes his stolen thesis paper to Ouisa (Karen Yates), Flan (Eric Leonard) and Geoffrey (John Milewski) in Eclipse Theatre's production of "Six Degrees of Separation” by John Guare, directed by Steve Scott.

Eclipse Theatre presents:

Six Degrees of Separation
by John Guare 
directed by Steve Scott
thru August 30 (Buy tickets online)

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

WHAT IS THE POINT of being related to everyone else on the planet, if the daily connections between those one is closest to are thin, shallow, and brittle to the point of snapping? That is the central theme of John Guare’s most famous play, Six Degrees of Separation, produced by Eclipse Theatre at The Greenhouse Theatre upstairs studio. Sadly, as proficient, or even inspired, as individual performances may be, a startling lack of contrast between what is and what could be in the relationships between various characters reduces this production to a flat, if interesting exercise.

L-R: Flan (Eric Leonard) receives a gift from Paul while Larkin (Joe Mack), Ouisa (Karen Yates) and Kitty (Rebecca Prescott) try to find Paul's father, in Eclipse Theatre's production of "Six Degrees of Separation” by John Guare, directed by Steve Scott. Perhaps this particular studio space simply cannot allow for enough varying levels of play. In scenes which require most of the cast, Steve Scott’s direction clumps half to one side and half to the other, forcing an almost two-dimensional interaction, and reducing the actors to bodies onstage. Also, this ensemble play still lacks strong ensemble feeling. Characters may be distant from each other, but actors should not be; this play demands that the history between most characters be inferred from just a few lines.

Having said that, there’s no denying the excellence of individual performances. Michael Pogues’ portrayal of Paul, the young black man who dupes the upper echelons of New York society into believing that he is the son of Sidney Poitier , is subtle, knowing, and the high point of the production. Pogue is as much a dream weaver as his character and his performance is a joy to watch.

Ouisa’s (Karen Yates) progress under Paul’s inspiring, if illusory, influence is driven, engaging, and realistic. Ouisa may never be a Zen master, but she does move from shallow, materialistic social climber to a woman intrigued by the potential for expansive, more meaningful relatedness. The rapid-fire exchanges between Ouisa and her husband, Flan (Eric Leonard), whether about art deals, social machinations, or Paul’s transgressions, are fun displays of technical virtuosity.

Ousia (Karen Yates) dreams about Paul (Michael Pogue) in Eclipse Theatre's production of "Six Degrees of Separation” by John Guare, directed by Steve Scott. What a pleasure to see Guy Massey (Dr. Fine) and John Milewski (Geoffrey) well-cast and exemplifying the complete embodiment of small roles. Michael Gonring also does a solid turn as the awkward, closeted young college student that Paul seduces to extract information on the upper classes he seeks to infiltrate.

However, at this particular moment, Six Degrees of Separation may demand more from younger cast members than the adults. Sadly, our palates have been jaded (if not utterly revolted) by a steady stream of obnoxious rich kids in dramas, reality TV shows, and as vapid celebrities in their own right. As of 2009, we suffer from over-exposure to the bad behavior of the celebrity rich. The greatest challenge, through acting and direction, is to humanize the parent-child relationships of the play and to individualize each young person’s role, regardless of how few lines or how spoiled the characters are. Otherwise, the danger is that the audience will tune out and not care.

It matters because this is the background against which Ouisa evolves her relationship—or fantasy of a relationship—with Paul. The rapport that she and Paul creaL-R: Rick (Nick Horst), Elizabeth (Laura Coover) and Paul (Michael Pogue) celebrate exciting news in Eclipse Theatre's production of "Six Degrees of Separation” by John Guare, directed by Steve Scott. te during his desperate phone call to her, before his arrest, needs greater contrast with the connections, or lack of them, that Ouisa has with her own children and husband. Likewise, a stronger sense of history between her and Flan would lend body and contrast to the overall production. Every relationship, no matter how simpatico with regard to interests, has its irritations, its compromises, and its resignations. Ouisa’s exposure to Paul magnifies what little Ouisa has settled for while she pursued having it all. Now, will she go on settling or will something have to give?

Rating: «««

All photos by Scott Cooper.

 

Opening This Week in Chicago

  BeanwithChicago-onit

 

$30,000 Bequest –  Organic Theater

Cirque Shangai: Bright Spirit –  Navy Pier

The Duck Variations Theatre-Hikes

Hope VI Chicago Dramatists

The K of D: An Urban Legend A Red Orchid Theatre

The Last Ninety Minutes in the Life of Nikola Tesla –  University Theater at University of Chicago

Line Gorilla Tango Theatre

A Little Night MusicLight Opera Works

A Minister’s Wife Writers’ Theatre

Mountain Days: The John Muir MusicalTheatre-Hikes

Next Beer Is Here Chicago Center for the Performing Arts

Phenomenon of Decline Gorilla Tango Theatre

The Ride Down Mount Morgan Redtwist Theatre

Third Apple Tree Theatre

Women of Manhattan The Artistic Home

Theater Thursday: “Arabian Nights” at Lookingglass

Thursday, May 21

Arabian Nights
Lookingglass Theatre
Michigan Ave. and Pearson., Chicago

arabiannightsFresh from sold-out runs at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Tony Award-winner Mary Zimmerman‘s The Arabian Nights returns to Lookingglass for a limited run. This stunning theatrical piece incorporates powerful storytelling, lush visuals and vibrant music to weave a rich tapestry from one of the world’s most enduring works of literature. The event begins with a reception catered by Il Mulino. Lookingglass artists will lead a discussion, offering unique insight into the production, beginning with its inception during the first Gulf War.

Event begins at 6:30 p.m. Show begins at 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS ONLY $30
For reservations call 312.337.0665 and mention "Theater Thursdays."

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All Theater Thursday postings sponsored by this fine entertainment accessory retailer.

Chicago Theater show openings this week

Chicago Skyline

American Notes Prop Thtr

Busman’s Honeymoon Lifeline Theatre

Cindy Sunday Explains EverythingApollo Studio Theatre

Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy Paramount Theatre

The Lieutenant of InishmoreNorthlight Theatre

Once On This IslandPorchlight Music Theatre

Rock ‘n Roll Goodman Theatre

Sausage! Give Us Your Wurst Gorilla Tango Theatre

The Trenchberg Incident Gorilla Tango Theatre

Unsung Stars Moving Dock Theatre

Your Friends and Enemies Annoyance Theatre

To Kill A Mockingbird Montana Repertory Theatre at The Center for Performing Arts