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MCA’s performance season to feature Baryshnikov, eighth blackbird

Mikhail Baryshnikov stars “Man Case” May 14-18. 2014 MCA. | GETTY IMAGES

Mikhail Baryshnikov stars in “Man in a Case” May 14-18. 2014 at the MCA. | GETTY IMAGES

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Updated: July 10, 2013 8:57PM

The Museum of Contemporary Art’s 2013-2014 performance season will follow its now well-established formula of presenting all things cutting edge in theater, dance, music and multimedia — whether made-in-Chicago or imported. The lineup includes some big names — Mikhail Baryshnikov, the Elevator Repair Service, eighth blackbird — and much else. Here is the complete lineup:

— “Taylor Mac: A History of Popular Music” (Sept. 27-28): Mac, the New York-based cabaret performer, drag artist and playwright, will join with his band to perform an original musical collage (complete with flashy costumes) that delves into the history of American popular music of the past 240 years.

— Timbre 4 in “Tercer Cuerpo (Third Wing)” (Oct. 3, 5 and 6): Part of the MCA’s Global Stage series, the piece, from a Buenos Aires-based company led by Calusio Tolcachir, will turn the MCA stage into an abandoned office building where forgotten employees complete obsolete tasks, seeking purpose and happiness. Dark humor and intense interactions between five quirky characters serves as the driving force for this intimate theatrical look at the secrets, drama, and isolation of people living a claustrophobic existence.

— ICE/International Contemporary Ensemble: An Oct. 26 performance will celebrate saxophonist/composer/avant-garde provocateur Zorn’s 60th birthday with a recent work based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” and the world premiere of a new work composed for ICE. Performances set for March 21-22, 2014 will pay homage to composer Alvin Lucier, a music pioneer for more than 50 years. The three distinct MCA programs will be performed among sound installations on the museum’s fourth-floor atrium and will feature Lucier’s chamber music, work based on interactive components, and electronic analog music.

— Rainpan 43 in “Elephant Room” (Nov. 2, 3 and 7-10): Co-presented with the Chicago Humanities Festival, this show, which involves dance, magic and deception, homes in on three duped illusionists who perform successful magic until their personal lives begin to unravel. The more they hide behind smoke and mirrors, the more they reveal their vulnerability and increase the off-the-wall comedy.

— Nassim Soleimanpour: “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” (Nov. 3-5 and 9): Co-presented with the Chicago Humanities Festival. Author Soleimanpour’s poignant, humorous play is about his own life as a young Iranian man who, as a conscientious objector, refused mandatory military service and is now forbidden to leave his country. It will be performed by different “notable theater personalities” at each performance, none of whom will receive the script prior to going on stage.

— Chicago Dancemakers Forum (Nov. 16): MCA Stage hosts the 10th anniversary of the Chicago Dancemakers Forum, an organization led by the consortium of the MCA, Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, Links Hall, and independent artists. Site-specific works and dances for the stage by nearly 30 choreographers will be presented throughout the day, A special evening performance in the MCA’s theater will be followed by a gala reception.

— Sandra Bernhard in “Everything Bad and Beautiful” (Dec. 5 and 7): The renowned stand-up comedian and singer will perform with her four-man band, mixing political satire, pop culture commentary and cabaret style to focus on matters of fashion, celebrity, rock, and religion.

— Tsukasa Taiko: Taiko Legacy 10 and Reduction (Dec. 21-22): Another entry in the MCA’s Global Stage series (co-presented with Asian Improv aRts Midwest), these two distinct programs will celebrate Taiko Legacy’s 10th anniversary. Taiko Legacy 10 is performed by three generations of drummers from Chicago and the Bay Area, including Master Kimono dance artist Fujima Shunojo and Yasushi Shimazaki from Tokyo performing chindonya, a traditional Japanese troubadour street theater. Reduction revisits the early 1970s music and theater experimentations of Tokyo, and features Taiko along with Chicago-based contemporary dancer Ayako Kato, jazz composers/musicians Edward Wilkerson and Nicole Mitchell, and world-renowned percussionists Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang.

— Lola Arias: “El ano en que naci (the year I was born)” (Jan. 23-26, 2014): This Global Stage entry features 11 performers born in the late 1970s to early ‘80s during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile. They reconstruct their parents’ youth from photographs, letters, tapes, clothing and murky memories, with each person recreating scenes to help answer such questions as “Who were my parents when I was born?” and “What was my country like before I learned to speak?” Created by Arias, the performance is spoken in Spanish with English subtitles.

— Kyle Abraham: “The Radio Show” (Feb. 20-22, 2014): Abraham, a choreographer born into the hip-hop culture of 1970’s Pittsburgh, explores two events in his hometown — the abrupt closing of a favorite radio station and the slow communication breakdown as a family member suffers from Alzheimer’s and aphasia. The piece, created in collaboration with the dancers of his company, features an eclectic score that mixes classic soul, hip-hop, R&B, call-in radio excerpts, and experimental music by Ryoji Ikeda and Alva Noto.

— eighth blackbird in “Columbine’s Paradise Theatre” (March 8-9, 2014): Chicago’s acclaimed ensemble will perform its new music theater score and libretto about love and death, performed in the Venetian commedia dell’arte theater style. The musicians play, speak, sing, and mime in this contemporary adaptation of an early 17th century comedy, now scored and adapted from the original by Amy Beth Kirsten, and directed by Mark DeChiazza. The program also features a set of love songs through the ages — from Machaut and Monteverdi, to early American folk ballads.

— Elevator Repair Service in “Arguendo” (March 14-16, 2014): Elevator Repair Service, the acclaimed theater company behind “Gatz,” its riff on “The Great Gatsby,” returns with a new work (whose title is Latin for “for the sake of argument”) follows the 1991 Supreme Court case about go-go dancers at the Kitty Kat Lounge in South Bend, Indiana, who claimed a First Amendment right to dance totally nude. Arguendo revisits this landmark case that pits freedom of expression against moral values by enacting the hilarious and intelligent Supreme Court oral arguments verbatum, along with an interview with one of the original erotic dancers.

— Rabih Mroue: “30 rounds and a few seconds” (April 10-12, 2014): Another Global Stage entry, this semi-documentary theater work by Beirut-based artists Rabih Mroue and Lina Saneh chronicles the final moments of a young Lebanese man’s life. Though the man commits suicide declaring his reasons are personal, not political, his death mobilizes a broken society.

— Maud Le Pladec: “Democracy” (May 1, 3 and 4, 2014): Acclaimed young French choreographer Le Pladec creates a high energy dance to the raw, powerful sound of “Dark Full Ride” by Julia Wolfe, co-founder of the music group Bang on a Can. Five dancers respond to and interact with music performed live on stage by four drummers from TACTUS Ensemble.

— Baryshnikov Productions: “Man in a Case” (May 14–18, 2014): Legendary actor-dancer Baryshnikov stars in this sophisticated multimedia dance-theater piece adapted and directed by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar of Big Dance Theater. It is based on two short stories by Anton Chekhov — one the comic tale of an anti-social Russian businessman attracted to a gregarious woman, and the other a rueful look at a man who falls in love with a married woman. Surveillance footage, folk dance, instructional hunting videos, and interviews with the cast are used to bridge these 19th-century anti-love stories and today’s modern sensibility.

NEW THIS SEASON: The MCA Stage is offering themed subscription series packages at a 20 percent discount. Ticket buyers save with subscription packages of three or more performances that start at $66, and they may choose from either an existing package or curate their own. The “Fearless Voices” series features Taylor Mac, Sandra Bernhard and Kyle Abraham. The “I Love Theater” series features work produced by Rainpan 43, Elevator Repair Service and Lola Arias. And the “Ahead of the Curve” series features Timbre 4, eighth blackbird and Big Dance Theater with Mikhail Baryshnikov. For tickets and additional information visit

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