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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.

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.

'Momma Raised a Fool' Sketches by Sentrock Recommended Free

On view on Elephant Room's website
Elephant Room Gallery 704 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago South Loop


In the exhibition "Momma Raised a Fool," Chicago-based street artist Sentrock presents sketches that invite viewers to decode the meaning. Inspired by graffiti in Mexican-American neighborhoods, Sentrocks work is based on narrative and includes his signature bird-masked character. 312-361-0281

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.

. . . 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."

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Second City Free

See website for full information

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The Second City offers free improv and sketch content online during the COVID-19 shutdown, beginning Thursday, April 2 with Improv House Party, in which "co-quarantined pairs convene digitally to improvise their hearts out in this wild west of comedy streaming live from everyone's bunker." That show is available via Zoom; for subsequent performances, check in with the Second City Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts, or the Second City website. New episodes are available Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 7 PM CST. The other free shows include The Really Awesome Improv Show, styled similarly to Whose Line Is It Anyway?", every Thursday at 1 PM CST and The Last Show Left on Earth, a half-hour sketch and variety show coproduced by the Second City and Topic, which will be releasing new episodes weekly featuring comedy and music artists such as Jack McBrayer, Jeff Tweedy of Wilso, and Fred Willard. The Second City also offers online classes for varying rates during the shutdown.

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.

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.

Shakes@Home Free

Available anytime through the website

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In response to the COVID-19 shutdown, Chicago Shakespeare provides an online anthology of learning activities, readings, archived discussions of past shows, and more. These include a new podcast, Asides, which analyzes some of the most famous direct audience addresses in the Shakespearean canon; actor-chef John Tufts's "Cook Like Shakespeare" series; and favorite moments in past productions.

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.

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."

Otherworld Theatre

Available online anytime

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Dedicated to sci-fi and fantasy, Otherworld offers a menu of online options—some free, some available through donations—on YouTube and Patreon, from free weekly installments of Improvised Dungeons & Dragons (created with Out on a Whim) to Stupid Shakespeare's take on Pericles, PickleRickicles, which had to end its run early due to the COVID-19 shutdown. They're also offering a reading series via podcast and their monthly open mike, Theatre of Ted, as a Facebook Live event on Saturdays.

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.

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.

Keeping Curious Free

Available any time 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 CST, 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.

Swans for Relief Free

Available any time through YouTube

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Misty Copeland and 31 other ballerinas from dance companies around the world perform The Dying Swan at home in this video, devised as a fund-raiser for COVID-19 relief efforts in the dance community.