Voices STD (Stuff to Do)—November 9, 2007

By Ben Rossi

Friday / November 9

The small, guitarlike instrument known as the cuatro is the centerpiece of tonight’s Puerto Rican Cuatro Music Festival at the Auditorium Theatre. Unique to Puerto Rico (the cuatro is to Puerto Ricans what the bagpipe is to the Scots), it has five double strings, producing a dulcet sound that is a cross between a twelve-string guitar and a mandolin. Puerto Rican musicians have adapted it to a wide range of music, from traditional folk tunes to more modern compositions. The festival itself, put on by the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance and Exelon, is the largest indoor Latino cultural event in the Midwest. (50 East Congress Parkway, 7:30 p.m., $25–$75)

Avant-garde jazz artist Rob Mazurek is quite busy these days, from recording albums, to exhibiting paintings and multimedia work at Chicago galleries, to living in the Amazon basin. Just last year, he led his wonderfully eclectic assemblage of musicians, Chicago Underground Orchestra, in a wild jazz exploration at Millennium Park. Tonight he’ll return to where he made his bones as a cornetist, the bebop jazz club The Green Mill. His protean new band, Exploding Star Octet, will back him up. (4802 North Broadway, 9 p.m., 21+, $12 students)

Saturday / November 10

An intriguing and one-of-a-kind collage of amateur films made in the Midwest from the mid-’30s to the ’70s, Domestic Portraiture explores the cinematic conventions simultaneously upheld and subverted by amateur filmmakers. Culled from the Chicago Film Archives, it will be shown at the Gene Siskel Film Center as part of its series Big Picture: A New Take on Film in Chicago. (164 North State Street, 3 p.m., $7 students)

The Miser, a 1668 satirical play by Molière, is about as venerable an example of a comedy of manners as you can find. Yet it’s also strikingly modern, with a self-conscious style that pokes fun at theatrical conventions while simultaneously engaging in the most ridiculous artifice. So it’s no surprise that a more forward-thinking playwright like James Magruder liked it enough to adapt it to a modern vernacular that is very conscious of the fact that it is an adaptation (at one point a character says, “Pardon my French”). But the frivolous joy of this outlandish comedy didn’t get lost in translation. (9501 Skokie Boulevard, 8 p.m., $35–$55)

Sunday / November 11

One of Otto Preminger’s finest films, 1959’s Anatomy of a Murder comes to the Music Box Sunday for an afternoon screening plus an introduction and Q&A session with author Foster Hirsch. Anatomy tells the story of a small-town defense lawyer (Jimmy Stewart) charged with defending a former army sergeant accused of killing a man who may have raped his wife. The story of what actually happened gets less and less clear as it is reconstructed in court, while Jimmy Stewart and a prosecutor played by George C. Scott rhetorically spar and parry. Anatomy was one of the first films to explicitly deal with rape, and also one of the few movies for which the inimitable Duke Ellington provided the score. (3733 North Southport Avenue, 1:30 p.m., $9.25)

The Renaissance Society’s new group exhibition, Meanwhile in Baghdad…, opens Sunday afternoon. The exhibition presents a variety of artistic responses to the Iraq war, which is conceived less as the explicit subject than as the backdrop or context. (The Renaissance Society, 4 p.m., free)

Monday / November 12

The U of C’s National Organization for Women chapter touches off Love Your Body Week with Rav Yoga at the Hillel Chapel. Love Your Body Week is a nationwide initiative seeking to educate the community about the prevalence of eating disorders among young women, as well as to provide a voice for students and community to express their concerns and ideas about such wide-ranging topics as offensive advertising, drug use among women, cosmetic surgery, and body image. On Wednesday, a panel of experts will discuss women’s health and nutrition in Bartlett Lounge, and on Thursday there will be an open mic night in Hallowed Grounds, on the second floor of the Reynolds Club. (Hillel Chapel, 6 p.m., free)

Tuesday / November 13

Director Jennie Livingston’s 1990 documentary Paris is Burning, is a fascinating look into the world of the black and Latino drag fashion shows in 1970s New York. The film gives a good picture of a queer culture refracted through the complicated lenses of race and class. There isn’t anything else quite like it. (230 West North Avenue, 8 p.m., free, RSVP required at scion.com/route)

Wednesday / November 14

Look Back in Anger by John Osbourne shocked audiences when it premiered back in 1956; it was the touchstone of a new kind of British theater. Its verbally abusive protagonist was the prototype for a generation of British and American film roles. UT is bringing back this fascinating play under the direction of fourth-year Ethan Stanislawski. (Francis X. Kinahan Third-Floor Theater, 8 p.m., $6)

Video artist Jordan Wolfson’s new installation at Rowley Kennerk Gallery is a winsome, haunting three-minute loop that features a 3-D animation crow superimposed seamlessly on a filmed background. The crow changes its setting every second or so, accompanied by a man’s voice reciting times of day. It seems simple-minded and repetitive, but its effect is a kind of discomfiting sense of the insignificance of time and place. (119 North Peoria #3C, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., free)

Thursday / November 15

The No Exit Café is just about the perfect place to stage a believable rendition of the often-execrable Cabaret: seedy and poorly lit, it serves quite well as the stage for a taste of Weimar-era decadence. This Cabaret doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, rather embracing its campy and amateurish qualities. Simple but effective takes on beyond-famous tunes round out the production quite well. (6970 North Greenwood Avenue, 8 p.m., $20–$25)

The Polish Film Festival in America, which ends on November 18, presents Eyes of the Mummy as part of its Pola Negri retrospective. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch in his first dramatic feature, the film is more of a melodrama than the title would suggest. (4050 North Milwaukee Avenue, 8 p.m., $10 students)