Voices STD (Stuff to Do)—April 18, 2008

By Ben Rossi

Friday / April 18

A flawed work of daring brilliance, There Will Be Blood will never be a big Saturday night rental, what with its unsettling soundtrack, indulgent cinematography, and most of all, Daniel Day Lewis’s indelible turn as the monomaniacal oil prospector Daniel Plainview. The film is a study in the dark, unbridled energy of capitalism in a world without viable alternatives, and as such, it can look very much like it’s invested in the shallow view that egotism rules. Fortunately, Lewis’s performance consistently pulls the film out of its own gloom. (Max Palevsky Cinema, 7 and 10 p.m., $4)

Sometimes even the best traditional improv can be a little tiresome, with its piecemeal structure and irritating digressions in audience participation. The Improvised Shakespeare Company breaks from tradition by embracing tradition, using the themes and language of the venerable Bard as the basis for a totally extemporaneous new play every Friday night at Improv Olympics. Except for overplaying Shakespeare’s misogyny, the performance I saw last week was some of the funniest improv I’ve ever seen. (3541 North Clark Street, 8 p.m., $14)

Saturday / April 19

When you’re reading Mikhail Bakunin, do you catch yourself thinking, “This shit would be a great theme for a dress ball?” Apparently someone did, because tonight Q Studios hosts Black Flag Black Tie, a costume ball for the sophisticated anarchist-about-town. With punk bands, vegan chow, and good, proletarian beer, you too can be part of the revolution. The party is a benefit for the Chicago Anarchist Film Festival and the Midwest Books for Prisoners program. (2328 North Milwaukee Avenue, 7 p.m., sliding scale $10–$20)

Chicago dance company Zephyr Dance welcomes spring with the Chicago premiere of Emily Stein’s An Atlas of Here. Stein uses four dancers and tons of masking tape to explore the notion of boundaries and limits, both in the dance space and in the wider world. Artistic Director Michelle Kranicke contributes Interludes Nos. 1, 2, and 3 to the program. (Holstein Park Fieldhouse, 2200 North Oakley Street, 2 p.m., $10 for students)

Sunday / April 20

Come to tonight’s opening of the Renaissance Society’s latest exhibit, Black Is, Black Ain’t, a group show exploring the current state of the discourse on race. More specifically, the works address our culture’s ambiguous attitude toward racial identity. Twenty artists, both black and non-black, weigh in on this vital subject with humor and insight. There will be a talk with the artists moderated by exhibition curator Hamza Walker. (Cobb, fourth floor, 4 p.m.–7 p.m., free)

Probably the pinnacle of 1940s film noir, Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep—adapted from Raymond Chandler’s novel by none other than William Faulkner—is a classic detective tale of money, murder, and mistresses. Yet it’s not the convoluted plot, but the palpable sexual tension between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall—which flowered into an off-screen romance—that makes the film worth seeing. That and the greenhouse scene. And the bookstore scene. And pretty much all the other scenes. (3733 North Southport Avenue, 11:30 a.m., $9.25)

Monday / April 21

This year, it looks like Earth Day may emerge from that gallery of half-forgotten holidays to take the stage alongside Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday, and other second-tiers. All this week the campus plays host to Earth Week, an ongoing event sponsored by a slew of student organizations through April 25. Today there are four events to choose from, including a Captain Planet study break at Hutch Commons, wherein free food will be consumed and old episodes of a certain environmentally aware cartoon show will be screened. (Campus-wide; see earthweek.uchicago.edu for more information)

Tuesday / April 22

After spending much of the season touring Chicago with the complete cycle of Beethoven Quartets on the program, the University of Chicago’s Artists in Residence, the Pacifica Quartet, returns to its home turf for a spring concert that favors diversity over comprehensiveness. Tonight’s program features Mozart’s Quartet in G Major, Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 2, and Chausson’s Concert in D Major. (Mandel Hall, 7:30 p.m., free)

Wednesday / April 23

Scoot around the campus this afternooon in the latest hybrid cars as part of Earth Week. You can also sign up for membership with the eco-friendly car sharing companies iGo and ZipCar. If you’re not part of the solution, you probably don’t like cars. (Main Quads, 11 a.m.–4 p.m., free)

Galleries in the Fulton Market District open their doors in celebration of Earth Night. Some of the spaces will show their green side with recycled art and such. Music, shopping, food, and drink are in the offing. (Fulton Market District between Halsted and Ashland, 5–8 p.m., free)

Thursday / April 24

A humanized update of the Bible story The Last Days of Judas Iscariot forces the audience to rethink the most famous betrayer in the history of the world. Heavy on introspective monologues and sporting a relatively large cast, the show successfully brings the story to the present day­—the characters speak in salty vernacular and the story takes place in a courtroom—without sidestepping the gravity of the events in question. (The Gift Theatre, 4802 North Milwaukee Avenue, 7:30 p.m., $15 for students)

Enjoy spring in full blush at Millenium Park, where Mark di Suvero’s brightly colored, abstract expressionist sculptures sit in the sun. It won’t be too hard to find them; the largest is 53-feet tall. (Michigan Avenue between Monroe and Randolph, 6 a.m.–11 p.m., free)