Monday, January 3, 2011
"Can analysis be worthwhile?
Is the theater really dead?"
-----Simon and Garfunkle
I usually agree with most of the gripes about Chicago that are aired on the Why I Think Chicago Sucks blog.
But one that repeatedly mystifies me is the complaint that Chicago's art scene is a veritable backwash compared to that of sophisticated New York City.
True, Chicago generally gets first run Broadway plays a few years after they have proven their mettle in the Big Apple. They belatedly crop up at downtown Chicago venues, touted as having "The Original Broadway Cast."
In fact, the cast usually consists of so many second stringers and former understudies as to have about the same resemblance to the genuine item as the Class A Daytona Cubs have to the crew that takes the field at Clark and Addison.
But beyond that, I don't see how Chicago is missing out on much of anything.
Here from the theatrical listings section of a recent New York magazine are a few of the offerings to which we Midwestern rubes are being denied:
--- Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party
The Acorn Theater, 410 42nd St., A culture-wars satire set in a small Illinois town that addresses some important issues. $51.25
--- Puppetry of the Penis 45 Bleeker: The Green Room, 45 Bleeker St., The outrageous show that puts the male genitalia front and center thanks to the ancient Australian aboriginal art of genital oragami. $49.50
--- 30 Half-Nekkid Plays in 60 Half-Nekkid Minutes, Kraine Theater, 85 E. 4th St., The Neo-Futurists perform a special, semi-nude version of their trademark show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, in which they attempt to perform 30 plays in an hour or less. (Attn, exhibitionists: Immediately following Friday's performance, you can join the troupe as they "half-streak" across 14th St. on a midnight run from the East River to the Hudson.)
--- New York International Fringe Festival, Various locations. Now in its 14th year, the festival features 5,000 performers in 200 shows at 20 venues. Some of this year's more memorable titles include, Picking Palin, Pope! and Love in the Time of Swine Flu
What I'm sure most angers the New York cognoscenti is the fact that these artistically meritorious offerings must charge hefty admission fees since the Philistines in the Republican controlled Congress haven't the decency to shower them with taxpayer-funded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Sort of a taxpayer-subsidized golden shower, you might say.
Perhaps the Wicker Park artistic sophisticates can lure these theatric gems to Chicago by persuading Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn to give them Illinois Arts Council monies.
Sure, the State may be broke, but certainly he can always float another bond-offering for such worthy and uplifting expressions of the human spirit.
After all, hasn't Australian aboriginal genital oragami been too long absent from the Chicago artistic scene?
And Lincoln was an Illinois figure. Shouldn't be we the ones hosting his big gay dance party?