From theater and music to film and cultural celebrations, there’s so much to do in the week ahead in and around Chicago.
Here are some of our picks:
Absorb African culture
Washington Park comes alive with a simulated African village during the African Festival of the Arts. Founded 30 years ago as a small fair selling African art objects, it has become a massive four-day event with the theme “Spirit of Africa.” There’s plenty to explore and enjoy ranging from an African marketplace and activities for children to fine arts, authors and books, drumming and food. On the music stages find headliners including the Ohio Players, Donnie McClurkin, Wale, Rotimi, Afro 8, Kinsmen and more. Presented by Africa International House from Aug. 30-Sept. 2, Washington Park, 51st and Cottage Grove. Tickets: $5-$20. Visit aihusa.org.
Seduced in the desert
When David Yazbek and Itamar Moses adapted the 2007 film “The Band’s Visit” for the stage, they created as Ben Brantley in the New York Times wrote “one of the most ravishing musicals you will ever be seduced by.” Directed by David Cromer and making its highly anticipated Chicago debut, the winner of 10 Tony Awards begins with a mix-up at the border as an Egyptian police band winds up stranded over night in a remote village in the middle of the Israeli desert. Israeli actor Sasson Gabay reprises the role of Tewfiq, the band’s conductor, who he portrayed in the film and recently on Broadway. Chilina Kennedy portrays Dina, the proprietor of the town’s café. From Sept. 3-15, Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph. Tickets: $39-$106. Visit broadwayinchicago.com.
North meets East
The Danish band Mames Babegenush marries its strong Scandinavian roots and elements of jazz with the vibrant dance music and klezmer traditions of Eastern Europe. The six-piece ensemble performs what are sure to be dazzling, dynamic performances at 6 p.m. Sept. 2 ($12), Ravinia, Bennett Gordon Hall, 201 St. Johns, Highland Park (visit ravinia.org) and at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 4 ($10), Old Town School of Folk Music, 4545 N. Lincoln. Visit mames.dk.
Start the fall theater season with a visit to “Setting the Stage: Objects of Chicago Theatre,” an exhibit that celebrates the myriad ways design is used in stage productions. The many items on display here, from a Frankenstein puppet to costumes and costume sketches, explore how a play’s designers interpret a playwright’s vision into the look of a play on stage. To Jan. 5 at Design Museum of Chicago, 72 E. Randolph. Admission: $5. Visit designchicago.org.
Rock meet country
While he’s best known as the lead guitarist for the rock band Foo Fighters, Chris Shiflett also has dabbled in his own side projects. One takes his rock and roll roots and adds in his love of the old school country sound of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. His recent release, “Hard Lessons,” was recorded in Nashville with always-in-demand producer Dave Cobb. The original songs are filled with honkytonk heartache and a raw blast of Telecaster twang. Cordovas open at 8 p.m. Sept. 4, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. Tickets: $15. Visit lh-st.com.
Films off the beaten track
The Chicago Film Society is ready with another season (Sept. 4-Dec. 14) dedicated to screening neglected works of cinema. Programmers dig deep and uncover rarely seen gems including in the coming months tributes to unsung auteurs like A. Edward Sutherland, Edward F. Cline, Erle C. Kenton, Bud Pollard, and Charles Stone III; an archival print of “Over the Edge” introduced by screenwriter Tim Hunter; new restorations from the Academy Film Archive (“Queen of Diamonds”) and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (“The Signal Tower”); and the rarest of all Robert Altman features — the made-for-TV “Jazz ‘34: Remembrances of Kansas City Swing.” First up is 1933’s “Counselor at Law,” featuring John Barrymore in one of his best performances as a workaholic lawyer whose career and marriage are crumbling. At 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4, Northeastern Illinois University, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr. Admission: $7-$11. For a complete list of films and venues, visit chicagofilmsociety.org.
Composers composing songs
Exploring the diverse work today’s composers are doing in the field of song is the focus of the Collaborative Works Festival. The event begins with songs created by internationally known women composers based in Chicago — Augusta Read Thomas, Stacy Garrop, Shulamit Ran and Lita Grier — and branches out from there to encompass concerts featuring American and international composers. From Sept. 5-8 at various venues. Tickets: $15-$35. Visit caichicago.org.
Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.