Off-Off-Broadway comes to the Windy City, as Performing Arts Chicago presents a very below-14th-Street line-up for its 2001-02 season. The roster includes works by The Builders Association, the SITI company, Richard Maxwell and Elevator Repair Service, acts commonly seen at such Downtown Manhattan avant-garde palaces as P.S. 122, New York Theatre Workshop and Soho Rep.
PAC will present the season at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in the heart of downtown Chicago. PAC's mission is "to present adventuresome, boundary-breaking and innovative artists who shape the future of the arts."
The fall will begin with The Builders Association's Xtravaganza, running Sept. 13-16. The show looks at early innovations in industrialization in America and reinterprets them using the cutting edge video and music technology of today. Xtravaganza, which will receive its premiere at PAC, mixes the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 with Busby Berkeley, video, hip-hop and club culture. Marianne Weems directs.
Next, running Jan. 24-27, is Chicago-native and New York critical darling, writer-director Richard Maxwell, and his Boxing 2000. This typically catatonic look at small-time boxing and small-time lives debuted at the Present Company in fall 2000 and then played a return engagement at Soho Rep in spring 2001. Maxwell was once a member of the Chicago-based Cook County Theatre, where he shaped his early work. His play House won an Obie Award and introduced most audiences to his world of monotones and somehow weighty mundanity.
Anne Bogart and her SITI Company bring their latest, House, to PAC April 18-21. In this piece, Bogart looks at the life and writings of Virginia Woolf, using her typical technique of splicing together extant writings and charging the patchwork text with exacting physical acting and a scrupulous sound design. In the past, Bogart has created plays focusing on the lives of Orson Welles, Robert Wilson, Anton Chekhov and Andy Warhol. Another new venture draws on artists Robert Rauschenberg. Ellen Lauren stars as Woolf. Room premiered at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio. Next up, Elevator Repair Service presents Highway to Tomorrow, May 23-25. The tragic-comic riff on Euripides' The Bacchae is set in St. Louis and told by Dionysis, who comes off like a wacky Greek professor.
Tickets for the above events are $20. For more information on the PAC season, call (773) 722-5463.
—By Robert Simonson