Doug George: Festivals

As the new season of theater hits the ground running (check out our 2012 guides at, so do the festivals. Not street festivals, mind you, though this being Chicago, why doesn't someone try that? It would be so cool. What a way to show your dedication, standing outside on frozen pavement for a winter evening of one-act plays. But we digress. For festivals of experimental works and new plays, all indoors, check out: Rhinoceros Theater Festival: This is the 23rd year for Rhino Fest, curated by Curious Theatre Branch. Billing itself as Chicago's longest-running, multiarts fringe festival, it includes "An Interrogation Primer," with Sean Bolger, right, seen in December at Side Project, and "The American Drink Book," performed by BoyGirlBoyGirl. Friday through Feb. 12 at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave.; tickets are $12 advance, $15 at the door or "pay what you can," 773-508-0666 or Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival: At Sketchfest, the funny continues through this weekend on Belmont Avenue. Through Sunday at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave.; tickets at Garage Rep: Steppenwolf's program to develop works by Chicago storefront companies enters its third year. On the docket for 2012, presented in rotating repertory, are "Oohrah!" by LiveWire Chicago (a comedy about a wife confronting her husband's return from military service in Iraq, by Bekah Brunstetter); "Hit the Wall" by The Inconvenience (set amid the days of the Stonewall riots, by Ike Holter); and "He Who," by Theatre Zarko (four women care for an enormous baby, by puppet master Michael Montenegro). Feb. 2 to April 8 in the Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted St.; tickets are $20 per play or $45 for festival pass at 312-335-1650 or Chicago Improv Festival: A little further out, the 15th annual gathering of improv teams from around the world will have artistic direction from Mark Sutton, Susan Messing, Kevin Mullaney and Wendy Mateo. April 23-29 at multiple venues, more information at
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