Both the Miller Beach Arts & Creative District and the New Territory Arts Association in Benton Harbor are revving up their seasons this weekend with a pair of unusual programs designed to get their audiences talking.
Tiny Furniture in Benton Harbor: The 3rd Thursday Movie Series March Selection for tonight is Tiny Furniture, the first semi-autobiographical movie by Lena Dunham, a filmmaker who was briefly not famous after she graduated from college and moved back in with her parents. Dunham, who has now won Emmys and a respectable television audience, famously stars in a hit series she also writes, “Girls,” on HBO. Only those who religiously follow film festivals have seen Tiny Furniture on a big screen. (Though anyone can see the trailer and download the soundtrack here. ) Here's the synopsis:“TINY FURNITURE tells the story of 22-year-old Aura who returns home after college to her artist mother’s loft with the following: a useless film theory degree, 357 hits on her YouTube page, and no shoulders to cry on. TINY FURNITURE is a tragicomedy about what does and does not happen when you graduate with no skills, no love life, and a lot of free time.”
The screening at the arts center 210 Water St., begins at 8 pm ET, but there is a happy hour starting at 7 p.m. And the NTAA claims to have the best free popcorn anywhere on earth. You can also bring whatever you want to eat and drink at the movie.
Judy Garland in Miller Beach: On Saturday night the Miller Beach Arts & Creative District presents a documentary Judy Garland: The Concert Years, at 7 pm CT at the Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts, 540 South Lake St. Larry Lapidus, the MC for a lot of the Miller events, will introduce the documentary which is hosted by Judy Garland's daughter Lorna Luft. Wine and dessert will be available, although there is not a ticket price on the information sheet, the numbers for information are 219-306-6880. (The date for this event was originally 3-28th, but was moved up probably to avoid the Easter weekend holiday.)
For William Shakespeare an Opening and a Closing: The production of Julius Caesar at Chicago Shakespeare is one of those plays I could have watched for five hours. The first half has all the dread, fear and loathing leading up to the Ides of March and Director Jonathan Munby (He's British) makes some brilliant decisions in setting it in contemporary Washington DC and characterizing Marc Anthony as a Muhammad Ali-type sports hero and Caesar-buddy, who it turns out, the Senators, have greatly under-estimated. The 23-member cast, in multiple roles, includes stalwart Shakespeare performers like David Lively, Brenda Barrie, Barbara E. Robertson and my favorite Larry Yando, are dazzling as usual. But Munby brought John Light, with an impressive UK Shakespeare theater resume. who makes his American stage debut as Marcus Brutus, the most tortured assassin. His performance just dominates the play, what a wonderful actor, even though Marc Anthony (Dion Johnstone also excellent in his first time at Chicago Shakespeare) gets the best speech. The second act, which has been dismissed as unimportant, is very well-done and vey effectively portrays what happens when a leader is assassinated and a country descends into civil war, destruction and more death. The show closes on Sunday. But Measure for Measure at the Goodman has just opened to very good reviews, so for about the third year in a row we have plenty of Shakespeare live in Chicago.