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To Master the Art Recommended Closing (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater)

5/12-6/7: Tue-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM

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TimeLine Theatre presents a ticketed limited-time streaming presentation of William Brown and Doug Frew's 2010 play about Julia Child's life in 1950s Paris with her husband Paul, an intelligence officer, and the growth of her culinary career and determination to bring French cooking to American homes. This recording is of the encore production in 2013 at the Broadway Playhouse. Reader critic Kerry Reid called the premiere production "an unlikely but thoroughly engaging love story." Karen Janes Woditsch stars as Julia, and Craig Spidle plays Paul Child. Tickets are available for purchase for specific dates and times. Patrons are then able to stream their performance anytime within a one-week window that begins with the performance date and time purchased. Only 99 tickets are available for each streamed performance, reflecting the number of seats in TimeLine’s theater. There will also be scheduled hour-long discussions via Zoom at 6 PM on Tuesday, May 26, Wednesday, June 3, and Thursday, June 11.

Home/Land Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime through Vimeo

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Albany Park Theater Project offers a streaming version of their critically lauded 2012 production about undocumented immigrants, written and performed by the teen ensemble and directed by APTP producing artistic director David Feiner.

Sexy Baby Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available any time on YouTube

Buy TicketsFree

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Hell in a Handbag offers up a free YouTube stream of their 2012 musical, a satire of child beauty queen pageants created by artistic director David Cerda and Scott Lamberty that former Reader critic Zac Thompson called "biting" and "hysterical." The show was chosen by the members of the company as one of their favorites and is presented free as a gift to the community during the COVID-19 shutdown, though donations to Hell in a Handbag are of course welcome.

The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral Recommended The Short List (Theater)

Available in streaming format through Patreon any time.

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The Neo-Futurists take their signature show, featuring 30 plays in 60 minutes, online during the COVID-19 crisis. The Neos offer five membership levels ranging from $3 ("Elbow Bump"), which comes with a link to a website where you can set your own timer for 60 minutes and watch all 30 plays, to $100 ("An Extended, Almost Uncomfortable Hug"), which brings a full array of perks including a customized play on a subject of your choosing. The menu includes older archival plays as well as new ones that are being created in quarantine by the ensemble.

Still/Here Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available online any time through Vimeo

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Free Street offers a free streaming version of this 2019 show (once subtitled Manifestos for Joy and Survival), in which survivors of an apocalyptic event in Chicago provide memories of the struggles that defined their lives before the catastrophe, including fighting gentrification and racism. The narrative is drawn from interviews conducted with over 400 Chicago community members.

There Is a Happiness That Morning Is Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available any time through YouTube

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Houston's Catastrophic Theatre has had a long relationship with Chicago playwright and Theater Oobleck cofounder Mickle Maher. During the COVID-19 shutdown, they are sharing some past productions of his work through their YouTube channel. They kicked off with The Hunchback Variations, and now add their 2013 production of this play, originally staged by Ooobleck in Chicago in 2011. Two William Blake scholars and longtime lovers, Ellen and Bernard, deliver lectures on the poet's Songs of Innocence and and struggle with the demand by their dean that they apologize for having public sex on the quad.

The Happiest Place on Earth Recommended The Short List (Theater)

Available streaming anytime through website

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Sideshow Theatre Company offers a streaming version of writer-performer Philip Dawkins's 2016 Jeff Award-winning autobiographical solo show, directed by Jonathan L. Green, about his family's history with tragedy while living in the shadow of Disneyland. The show is available on a pay-what-you-wish basis through Sideshow's website during the COVID-19 crisis.

Feast Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available any time on Vimeo

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As a gift to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Albany Park Theatre Project offers a free streaming Vimeo version of this show, first created in 2010 and revived in 2015 at the Goodman about immigrant communities, food, and the politics surrounding those topics. Feast was created by the APTP youth ensemble and directed by artistic director David Feiner.

Parched Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime through Vimeo

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Free Street Theater offers a free streaming version of their 2019 show about the politics of water, pollution, and corporate theft of resources. Reader critic KT Hawbaker wrote of that production "Devised over the course of ten months by Free Street's youth ensemble, students aged 14-19, Parched is driven by vignettes drawn from interviews with researchers, activists, and community members. In that respect, it's a combo of journalism and performance, resulting in passionate storytelling that feels informed and brave."

Cole's Virtual Open Mic Recommended Free 21+ The Short List (Theater)

Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m.


Cole's Bar's longtime comedy open mike night is continuing on Zoom. Performer sign-up information and Zoom meeting information updated each Wednesday at the Cole's website.

My Body's Image, Delayed Free

Through 7/24: new videos released every Friday at 7 PM through the Theatre Y website.

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Theatre Y celebrates its 15th anniversary and its ongoing collaboration with Hungarian-Romanian playwright and poet András Visky through this anthology of videos created in quarantine by company members, inspired by Visky's work and integrating mirrors as part of the visual vernacular. Artistic director Melissa Lorraine, Visky, and members of the ensemble will also participate in virtual conversations about the work.

Hubbard Street Unbound: A Virtual Season Finale Free

5/23-6/5: see website for complete schedule

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Hubbard Street Dance Chicago finishes its season with a series of live online performances, as well as Instagram takeovers, films, and more. The livestreamed events are as follows: Sat 5/23, 4 PM CST, Peter Chu's reworked virtual version of a 2017 piece, Space, In Perspective, in which Chu leads HSDC participants through movement, dance, and meditations; Fri 5/29, 6:30 PM CST, Undercover Episode 018: Home Video, created by former HSDC dancer Robyn Mineko Williams and originally inspired by Susan Cain’s 2012 book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking; Fri 6/5, 6:30 PM CST, (stay)Inside/Out, HSDC's annual showcase of new company-created short works.

Cymbeline: A Folk Tale with Music

6/3-6/14: Wed-Sun 7 PM

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First Folio Theatre offers a limited ticketed streaming video version of their 2013 production, adapted by David Rice from William Shakespeare's text and featuring an original folk score by Rice and Michael Keefe. The story of Imogen, a woman falsely accused of betraying her husband who must flee for her safety and eventually thwart her evil stepmother, has been recast for the Civil War era in West Virginia. Michael Goldberg directs the production, which was filmed at First Folio's summer outdoor stage at Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook.

A Sip of Theater Free

Wed 7 PM CST

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Water People Theater unveils a new online project in conjunction with the coronavirus shutdown. Every Wednesday at 7 PM CST, the company highlights staged readings of short plays in Spanish and English, featuring Latin American playwrights and actors from all over the world.

At Home With the Auditorium and #AudTalk Free

At Home With the Auditorium, Sun 6 PM and #AudTalk, select Wednesdays 6 PM, throughout the COVID-19 shutdown

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Auditorium Theatre offers two ongoing livestreamed events during the COVID-19 shutdown. At Home With the Auditorium showcases artists from past live performances on the Auditorium stage, available every Sunday at 6 PM. The series is streamed through Facebook Live at the Auditorium's Facebook page. Sunday, May 24 features Chicago cabaret singer Joan Curto, accompanied by pianist and vocalist Beckie Menzie "from a safe distance," as she performs classics made famous by Ella Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, and more. On Wednesdays, they present #AudTalk, video chats with various movers and shakers in the performing arts world. It's available through Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, as well as various podcast platforms such as Apple and SoundCloud. On May 20, the series features National Geographic Live speaker and underwater photographer Brian Skerry and Dr. Steven Kessel, director of marine research at the Shedd Aquarium.

Play(s) at Home Free

Available via YouTube any time


Connective Theatre Company's response to the COVID-19 shutdown, this festival of short plays solicited works from artists tackling various aspects of the pandemic. The company selected eight pieces and rehearsed and performed them via Zoom within 72 hours. The program is broken into three acts around the themes of "Navigating Solitude and Quarantine," "Anxiety, Fear, and Hysteria in the age of COVID-19," and "Navigating Relationships in Quarantine." There are interludes between each act with artistic director Chase Hauser and licensed clinical social worker Erich Heintzen discussing the issues raised by the plays.

The Terrible Tragedy of Peter Pan Free

Sat 4/4, 7:30 PM, streaming via YouTube; available with commentary track anytime afterward

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House Theatre of Chicago offers a free streaming presentation of their 2002 production—the second show they produced—adapted by Phillip Klapperich from J.M. Barrie's original story and directed by Nathan Allen, about a boy who won't grow up and his adventures in Neverland. Designed as a watch party for Saturday, April 4, the company plans to offer live commentary along with the production during the initial presentation on YouTube, and that commentary will then be available along with the video for viewing anytime afterward as well.

Laugh Factory Free

Available anytime through YouTube

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Laugh Factory, which has outlets in Chicago as well as Hollywood and Long Beach, CA, offers free content through their YouTube channel.

Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration Free

Available any time on YouTube

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In honor of Stephen Sondheim's 90th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the Broadway opening of Company, Raúl Esparza, who won a Tony as Bobby in the 2006 revival of the latter, produced this all-star virtual concert of Sondheim's work. The lineup includes performances and tributes from Patti LuPone, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Nathan Lane, Bernardette Peters, Kelli Peters, and many others. Mary-Mitchell Campbell served as music director and Paul Wontorek as director. Available free, but onations accepted for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), a nonprofit founded by Campbell and Juilliard students to help youth in underserved communities receive access to arts training.

2666 Free

Available any time through the Goodman Theatre website.

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The Goodman Theatre presents a streaming version of their epic 2016 adaptation of Roberto Bolaño's novel, adapted and directed by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley. The five-part, five-and-a-half-hour show captures the Chilean writer's story of crime in Santa Teresa, his fictional stand-in for Mexico's Ciudad Juárez, where hundreds of women have been murdered since the 1990s. As described by former Reader critic Zac Thompson, the intersecting worlds of the play include "four European academics, a literature professor and his teenage daughter, a New York reporter covering a boxing match, the police detectives investigating the murders, and an elderly German novelist—not to mention a cavalcade of secondary artists, thugs, do-gooders, lost souls, obsessives, and creeps."

The Hunchback Variations Free

Available via YouTube any time

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Mickle Maher, a cofounder of Chicago's highly influential Theater Oobleck, created two versions of his heartbreakingly hilarious story involving Beethoven and Quasimodo at an academic conference, discussing their fruitless collaborative attempt to capture an impossible sound cue in Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard: "A distant sound, as if from the sky: the sound of a breaking string—dying away, sad." First done as a straight play in 2001, Maher and composer Mark Messing reconfigured it as a chamber opera in 2012. This streaming YouTube version is of a production of the nonmusical original at Houston's Catastrophic Theatre, which has produced several of Maher's plays over the years. On Wednesday, April 1 at 6 PM, Maher will participate in an online Q&A along with director and actor Greg Dean, actor Jeff Miller and more, moderated by University of Houston theater professor Dr. Rob Shimko.

Dance Center of Columbia College Free

Available anytime through the Dance Center website

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In response to the COVID-19 shutdown, the Dance Center of Columbia College has made a number of full-length archival videos from past performances available free online. The selections include Kimberly Bartosik/daela's Chicago debut from January, I Hunger for You; Hedwig Dances Bauhaus-inspired Futura from 2018; Lucky Plush's 2016 piece Trip the Light Fantastic: The Making of SuperStrip and many others.

Out of Touch Free

Available streaming via website anytime

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Annoyance created this original sketch show, available free in a streaming format, via a team of 9 performers and crew living in quarantine together for 10 days at the theater. The March 28 performance is now available anytime through the theater's website.

Chicago Offstage! Live at Home Free

Sun 4/19, 6 PM; available through YouTube anytime after

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Season of Concern, Chicago's fund for members of the theater community facing illness, injury, or other circumstances that keep them from working, presents this livestreaming concert featuring prominent vets of the musical theater world in Chicago and beyond. The talent roster includes Tony winner Jessie Mueller, E. Faye Butler, Michael Mahler, Bethany Thomas, and Honey West, among many others. Ana Belaval of WGN-TV hosts and interviews the stars between performance segments. Christopher Pazdernik, the casting and company manager of Porchlight Music Theatre, serves as creative producer for this concert in quarantine. Free through the Season of Concern YouTube channel, but donations accepted.

Joffrey Ballet Free

Available through the company website or YouTube channel any time

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During the COVID-19 shutdown, the Joffrey highlights a different production from its history every week with production footage and behind-the-scenes interviews with artists involved in the show. The week of April 27 will feature 2019's Anna Karenina, featuring the first score (by Ilya Demutsky) ever commissioned by the Joffrey. Every Thursday at 2 PM, the Joffrey also features "On Cue," a weekly check in (via Instagram) with a Joffrey company artist about "how they’re staying fit, what they’re doing to stay sane and even share some of their favorite quarantine recipes." On Tuesday April 28, in honor of World Autism Month, the Joffrey will also showcase a Joffrey "Abilities in Motion" class for students with autism.

Play(s) at Home : A Green Theatre Festival Free

Available any time through YouTube

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Connective Theatre Company presents the second installment in its series of original short plays on the COVID-19 crisis. In this collection, writers from around the globe submitted pieces examining the role the pandemic plays in environmental issues. The selected titles were then rehearsed and shot remotely from the artists' homes.

Napoli Free

Available online anytime

Buy TicketsFree

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As a gift to the world during the COVID-19 shutdown, the Royal Danish Ballet offers a full-length recorded version of this 1842 ballet by Danish choreographer August Bournonville. The story follows a young Italian girl who falls in love with a fisherman, and is generally considered one of the most life-affirming ballets in the classical canon.

Masque of the Red Coronavirus Free 18+

Launches Tue 3/31 at 9 AM, then free on the company website anytime.

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Black Button Eyes Productions presents an interlocking series of videos performed by various artists that mash up Edgar Allan Poe's classic horror tale, "The Masque of the Red Death," in which a prince and his entourage try to cheat a pandemic by taking sanctuary in a pleasure palace, with contemporary articles about how the wealthy and the extremely wealthy are taking refuge in luxury during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a note on the website, company artistic director Ed Rutherford observes "way too many lines of The Prince are quoted verbatim from a public figure."

ComedySportz Free

Mondays-Saturdays

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ComedySportz offers an array of games-based improvisation shows during the COVID-19 shutdown. On Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 and 9:30 PM, Virtual ComedySportz features their classic format of two teams of improvisers, plus a ref. The audience can join with suggestions and vote for the winning team via Zoom. Every other Wednesday at 7 PM, beginning on April 8, the company performs Virtual Vino Veritas, pairing Susan Haarman and two storytellers, plus wine, to share some stories over Zoom. And for families with kids, ReCeSz runs noon-12:30 PM Mon-Fri, with ComedySportz training center instructors leading youngsters through games and a dance party to break up the daily routine. Through April 10 and then April 20-24, the company offers a virtual spring break "camp" for students 8-18, called "Camp Kah-Mah-Dee" and focused on improv games, scene and character work, and stand-up comedy. The camp fee is $100. All other content is free, but donations accepted.

The Approximately Five-Minute Shelter in Place Show Free

Available any time through website

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Small Fish Radio Theatre and Thespinarium, which specializes in short radio plays, presents an ongoing series of radio pieces created in quarantine during the COVID-19 shutdown.