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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.

Packing Recommended Closing (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater)

6/19-7/12: available any time through ticketed remote streaming

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About Face Theatre presents a recorded streaming version of Scott Bradley's semi-autobiographical solo play, directed by Chay Yew. A "genderqueer vagabond" from Iowa embarks on a three-decade odyssey across multiple identities and locations, where his journey intersects with the AIDS pandemic, addiction, and the fight for marriage equality. Reader critic Dan Jakes called the show "an important document of queer life only a decade or two in the past but a world away culturally."

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 Oobleck in Chicago in 2011. Two William Blake scholars and longtime lovers, Ellen and Bernard, deliver lectures on the poet's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience and struggle with the demand by their dean that they apologize for having public sex on the quad.

Medusa Undone Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime through company website or YouTube channel

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Otherworld Theatre offers a free streaming version of last spring's production of a play by Bella Poynton, directed by Tiffany Keane Schaefer, that retells the story of the legendary gorgon as a critique of rape culture, with Medusa caught in a love triangle between Athena and Poseidon. Reader critic Josh Flanders wrote "The god-human relationship here is a metaphor for celebrity idolatry and the lack of consequence so many with power have maintained, as well as the dangers of living for others versus ourselves."

Feast Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime on Vimeo

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As a gift to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Albany Park Theater 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.

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.

Johnny Johnson Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Mondays-Sundays

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Chicago Folks Operetta continues its "Operetta Delivered" series of free streaming archived performances with Kurt Weill and Paul Green's 1936 anti-war piece, presented by the company in its Chicago premiere in 2017. Reader critic Albert Williams wrote "Though not a success in its time, Johnny Johnson is a work of landmark historical significance. And despite some flaws, this production packs a real emotional impact with its quirky yet lyrical music, expressionistic visual design, and timeless theme of a common man caught up in the madness of war."

. . . And I Am Not Afraid Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime through Prop Thtr website

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Prop Thtr presents a free streaming version of this production from fall of 2019, presented then under the title I Am Going to Die Alone and I Am Not Afraid. Devised by the ensemble and directed by Anna Gelman, with music by Alec Phan, the play uses the Holocaust and its legacy as a lens for exploring bravery and tenacity in the face of violence and oppression. Reader critic Dmitry Samarov wrote "In a time when so many societal forces are hell-bent on dividing us along tribal lines, this powerful piece of theater shows how sharing the tribulations of one people must give all people pause."

Still/Here Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available online anytime through Vimeo

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Free Street offers a free streaming version of this 2019 show (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.

Sexy Baby Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime 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 anytime.

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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.

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.

War of the Well[e]s Canceled

7/1-7/31: available as ticketed audio download anytime via YouTube

Buy TicketsPay what you can, but $15-$250 suggested donation

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This event has been canceled. Contact the box office for more information.

Porchlight Music Theatre and A Red Orchid Theatre team up with this audio drama, based on the legendary Orson Welles broadcast of H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds on Halloween eve of 1938. The story of a Martian attack that went out over the CBS airwaves set off mass hysteria and helped make Welles a rising star. Porchlight artistic director Michael Weber wrote the script, and A Red Orchid ensemble member Lawrence Grimm directs a cast that includes such Chicago heavy hitters as Lance Baker, Mierka Girten, Will Clinger, Michael Patrick Thornton, Michael Shannon, Sadieh Rifai, and many others.

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.

The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 4—LOCKDOWN!

6/25-8/15: available any time online with purchase

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Quarantine can't keep Hell in a Handbag from continuing their long-running franchise parody of The Golden Girls. In this recorded online edition, written by artistic director David Cerda and directed by Spenser Davis, the "girls" are quarantined together for 30 days after Blanche is exposed to Legionnaires' disease.

Plays for the People

7/8-11/8: see website for complete schedule

Buy Tickets$22 approximately (£19.62)

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Black Lives, Black Words International Project produces an online season of seven plays celebrating African American and African experience. The pieces will be performed live over Zoom for a period of five days, with audiences limited to 50 people per performance. The second day of each run will also feature a Q&A chaired by BLBW cofounders Reginald Edmund and Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway. The schedule is as follows:

7/8-7/12: Ride Share by Reginald Edmund, directed by Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway. A young African American Uber driver rides with a dark specter as he discovers the unsavory aspects of humanity. 

7/22-7/26: Proof of Love by Chisa Hutchinson, directed by Kyle Haden. A well-off Black woman learns some things about both herself and her husband when a car accident leaves the latter comatose. 

8/17-8/23: What To Do When You Don't See Yourself in the Story, by Anya Pearson, a piece that reckons with the lack of respect given Black women and celebrating and recognizing their work. 

8/24-8/30: Cell Surface by Dominic Taylor, directed by Jerrell Henderson, described as "a play about making a play in Zoom about two amazing African-American scientists, Dr. E.E. Just and Dr. Roger Young." 

9/16-9/20: The Immortal Goats by Idris Goodwin, directed by Tiffany Nicole Greene. After the removal of statues honoring colonizers, a committee has to determine who should be recognized in their place—within the running time of the play. 

10/12-10/17: Call for the Wailing Women by Katrina D. Richard, directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton. A modern-day Afrocentric retelling of Euripides's The Suppliants, about a group of grieving women in wartime desperate to bury their dead. 

11/2-11/8: The Emancipation of Yankee Oluwale by Wole Oguntokun, based on the story of David Oluwale, a British Nigerian whose body was found in the River Aire in Leeds in 1969, leading to an investigation of how the homeless and mentally ill man had been tormented by the police.

SummerDance in Place Free

7/1-7/29: Wed 5:30-7 PM; also Sat 7/4, 5-6:30 PM

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The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) reimagines the annual SummerDance event as a series of at-home dance parties focusing on various music and dance styles, including house, salsa, Bollywood and Bhangra, swing, cumbia, and line dancing. All events are scheduled on Wednesday evenings in July, except for a special salsa session on Saturday, July 4. Each starts with a 30-minute dance lesson, followed by 60 minutes of music performed by local artists. Wednesday sessions from July 8-29 will also be broadcast and streamed through WTTW.

The Line Free

7/8-8/4: premieres in livestream Wed 7/8, 6:30 PM CDT and available on demand via YouTube through 8/4

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The Public Theater offers the livestreamed world premiere of this docudrama by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, directed by Blank. In the style of their earlier work, such as 2000's The Exonerated, about people wrongfully convicted of murder and other crimes, The Line draws on firsthand interviews with medical first responders in the COVID-19 pandemic in New York. The cast includes Santino Fontana (David), Arjun Gupta (Vikram), John Ortiz (Oscar), Alison Pill (Jennifer), Nicholas Pinnock (Dwight), Jamey Sheridan (Ed), and Lorraine Toussaint (Sharon), with original music by Aimee Mann.

Streaming From Isolation with Stylin' Out Network DJs Jillian X, Quicktastic, Virgil7 Free All Ages

Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 20


Livestream at Stylin' Out Network's Twitch channel.

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.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.

A Sip of Theater Free

Wed 7 PM CDT

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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.

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.

Play(s) at Home Free

Available via YouTube anytime


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.

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 nine 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.

Keeping Curious Free

Available anytime online through company website or Facebook page

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Lookingglass Theatre offers several free online programs during the COVID-19 shutdown. The Infinite Room Podcast brings together artists and activists to discuss the importance of storytelling in creating community. Episodes include discussions of public housing policies with ensemble member J. Nicole Brooks, author and director of Her Honor Jane Byrne, which had to cancel most of its run due to the shutdown, and ensemble members David Catlin and Mary Zimmerman discussing how to put epic adventures onstage. On Tuesdays at noon CDT, Lookingglass artists offer "Lookingglass Live," a free 15-minute workshop on topics such as yoga and comedy. Finally, Through the Lookingglass showcases company artists at home performing various songs, stories, and poems.

Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble Free

Available anytime on YouTube

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Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble offers short videos from various works, including excerpts of What We Carried, which was originally scheduled for May. The collaboration with Jean Parisi focused on stories of those seeking asylum in the U.S. The videos also include excerpts from i bet you think this dance is about you, choreographed by Sara Maslanka.

Masque of the Red Coronavirus Free 18+

Available 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. July 20-August 7, the company offers a virtual summer comedy camp for youth, 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.

Joffrey Ballet Free

Available through the company website or YouTube channel anytime

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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. 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."