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In August, Theater Is Brutish, Short and Edifying

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 4, 2006 8:10PM

It must be something in the air. Look beyond the explosion of neighborhood Summer Fests, “Taste Ofs”, and nationally recognized rock smorgasbords, and you’ll find… still more festivals. Taking a cue from music promoters, local theaters know you’re excited to spend hours upon hours being entertained along some kind of theme. Festivals grab attention, and these festivals grabbed ours:

tablefestphoto.JPGDarknight Theatrical Productions pays tribute to Twilight Zone master Rod Serling, presenting three original one-acts inspired by that show over at the UIC Theatre. These scripts were deemed cream of the crop of over 200 plays submitted, capturing the hidden underbelly of Dust Bowl America, suburbia, and cheeky British schoolchums. A narrator, intoning in that creeping Serling style, will introduce each story.

Continuing at the Steppenwolf for two more weekends is the second edition of the First Look Repertory of New Work, premiering three shows in the Garage Theatre. We enjoyed this festival last year, bringing veteran talent to a storefront-esque environment. This year’s work travels from the Blue Line CTA all the way to small town Wisconsin.

LatinoBrazil.jpgThe Goodman’s Latino Theatre Festival opens this weekend with a series of free and cheap staged readings. The Crossing, a 25-year old tale of immigration presented Sunday night, couldn’t be more timely. A discussion about immigration issues among community activists and politicians including Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. will follow. Then, over the next two weeks, the breadth of the Latino experience, spanning three continents but also including our neighbors, are featured on both Goodman stages.

For next weekend’s Stages 2006, Theatre Building Chicago’s going old school with a crop of new musicals. Productions travel back in time to the Beat Generation, the Civil War, and the world of Arthur Conan Doyle. By the numbers, Stages presents 8 new musicals twice over 3 days. The truly dedicated musical lover can see all shows for $85 then purchase a $20 ticket to brunch and a Producers’ Forum. Otherwise, shows are $15 a la carte.

Darknight Gallery 3 continues at the UIC Theatre, 1044 West Harrison, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm, through August 27. Tickets are $10-15. More info at

The Second Annual First Look Repertory of New Work continues at the Steppenwolf’s Garage Theatre, 1624 N Halsted Ave, Thursdays – Sundays through August 13. Tickets are $15 per show, $30 for a three-show pass. More info at

The Latino Theatre Festival runs August 4 – 20 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N Dearborn St. Tickets are $10-25. Most staged readings are free. More info at

Stages 2006: A Festival of New Musicals is at Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W Belmont, August 11-13. Opening night is $75, other ticket prices are above. More information at

Photos via Darknight Theatrical and Pia Fraus, Goodman Theatre