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Wally World Recommended The Short List (Theater) Online

12/16-8/31: available anytime with purchase of Steppenwolf NOW subscription

Buy Tickets$75 for entire Steppenwolf NOW subscription series; discounts available for essential workers, teachers and students; all Classic, Black and Red Card Members receive Steppenwolf NOW for free

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Steppenwolf continues its subscription online series with Isaac Gómez's comedy, codirected by Gómez and Lili-Anne Brown and featuring ensemble members Cliff Chamberlain, Audrey Francis, Sandra Marquez, and Karen Rodriguez. Set in the titular store (which bears more than a passing resemblance to Walmart, where Gómez's mother has worked for many years), the two-act radio play follows a group of beleagured employees on Christmas Eve as they try to deal with the madness of the season without losing their own sense of purpose, worth, and holiday cheer.

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.

I Hate It Here: Stories from the End of the Old World Recommended Free The Short List (Theater) Online

12/10-3/7: available online anytime

Buy TicketsFree


Acclaimed Chicago playwright Ike Holter wrote and directed this audio play about our current fraught times, using monologues, songs, and vignettes, as a commission for the "Studio in Your Ears" program of Studio Theatre in Washington D.C. The cast includes former and current Chicago actors Sydney Charles, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Tony Santiago, Gabriel Ruiz, and Behzad Dabu.

Rastus and Hattie Recommended Free The Short List (Theater) Online

Through 1/31: available streaming anytime with reservation

Buy TicketsFree


Berwyn's 16th Street Theater offers a free encore presentation of this audio play, written by Lisa Langford and directed by Lanise Antoine Shelley. Langford's dark comedy involves two contemporary couples (one white, one Black) whose friendship is threatened when it's revealed that the white couple has Black robot servants—relics of an actual Westinghouse project in the 1930s, which created "“mechanical slaves," one of whom was in fact called "Rastus." Langford adapted her stage play for 16th Street, and her story also weaves in time travel and the theme of epigenetics, or the theory that generational trauma such as slavery leaves a genetic imprint. Illustrations from Roy Thomas add to the listening experience. Reader critic Kerry Reid called the production "a fitting coda to a year marked by heightened attention to racial justice and institutionalized white supremacy."

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.

. . . 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."

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.

Feral Recommended The Short List (Theater) Online

Available anytime with purchase

Buy Tickets$15 for three-day pass


MPAACT's "Podcast Play" series offers audio versions of some of their favorite past productions. In this piece, written and directed by Shepsu Aakhu, a young Black activist's politically motivated graffiti campaign sets him on a collision course with the police, leading to a controversy that engulfs his city and the country. In his review of the 2016 production, Reader critic Zac Thompson wrote, "Aakhu has political points to make, but the considerable power of the play stems from the anger and heartbreak of the characters."

Still/Here Recommended Free Agenda The Short List (Theater) Online

Available online anytime through Vimeo


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.

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.

Yippee Ki-Yay Merry Christmas! A Die Hard Musical Parody Recommended Free The Short List (Theater) Online

Mondays-Sundays

Buy TicketsFree

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Yippee Productions LLC first presented their annual live musical parody of the 1988 Bruce Willis Christmastime action-adventure flick in 2014 at the now-defunct MCL Chicago comedy theater. Created by Michael Shepherd Jordan, who cowrote the book and score with Alex Garday and Stephanie McCullough, the show returns in an archived streaming presentation from the 2018-19 production at the Den. Tiffani Moore Swalley directed, with filming and editing by Sam Donald Bowers. Reader critic Albert Williams praised the cast of that production for their "improvisational spontaneity and seemingly endless energy."

Black and Blue Recommended The Short List (Theater) Online

Available anytime with purchase

Buy Tickets$15 for three-day pass


MPAACT's "Podcast Play" series offers an audio play by Shepsu Aakhu, directed by Andrea J. Dymond, originally produced by the company in 2018. Two Black Chicago cops deal with the aftermath of the release of the video of Laquan McDonald's shooting as they patrol a patch of South Shore dubbed "Terror Town." Reader critic Justin Hayford wrote of the original production, "the script's intellectual rigor and visceral impact are unmistakable."

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."

Sexy Baby Recommended Free The Short List (Theater) Online

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.

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."

Of Dice and Men Recommended The Short List (Theater)

Opens Fri 7/31, 7 PM CDT; free through 8/14, then on a paid basis

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Otherworld Theatre offers a show designed for digital performance, written by Cameron McNary and directed by James Martineau. The story follows a Dungeons and Dragons master, James Francis, who finds his life turned topsy-turvy when one of his friends enlists in the military and his romantic relationship going nowhere. The show is free via Otherworld's YouTube channel from July 31 to August 14, and then afterward on a paid basis through their Patreon. Recommended for ages 14+.

Hit 'Em on the Blackside Free Online

Through 3/31: available online anytime

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Congo Square Theatre Company presents an online sketch comedy show, directed by Anthony Irons and created by cast members Tiffany Addison, Ronald L. Conner, Alexis J. Roston, and Kelvin Roston Jr., with Malcom Banks as director of photography. The series, inspired by Irons's 2014 live sketch show, Tales from the Blackside, was developed in biweekly webisodes, broadcast through Congo Square's Instagram and Facebook pages. The entire first show is available free online at the company's website. The second show will begin posting biweekly sketches on Fridays March 19-May 28, with the full second Hit ‘Em on the Blackside show posted online Saturday, May 29.

The Cake

1/30-3/1: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM; ASL performance Thu 2/20, 8 PM
Buffalo Theatre Ensemble McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn Other Suburbs West

Buy Tickets$42


Bekah Brunstetter, a writer for the NBC series This is Us and the daughter of former Republican North Carolina state senator Peter Brunstetter, wrote this drama, set in Winston-Salem, in the aftermath of the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case, involving bakers who objected to making cakes for same-sex couples. First seen locally at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble in 2018, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble's production is directed by Steve Scott and stars Connie Canaday Howard as Della, the owner of a bakery whose personal beliefs are tested when her goddaughter asks her to make a cake for her wedding to another woman. 630-942-4000

34th Annual Young Playwrights Festival Online

1/7-1/31: Thu-Sat 7 PM, Sun 4 PM (available streaming for 48 hours after purchase of selected performance)

Buy Tickets$20 adults, $12 students 22 and under


Pegasus Theatre Chicago goes virtual for their yearly celebration of young writers, whose work was developed in partnership with Chicago high schools. This year's lineup includes: A Lady’s Facade by Aisha Ziad of University of Chicago Laboratory School, directed by Reshmi Hazra Rustebakke, in which a fired arts curator still pursues a mystery surrounding the Mona Lisa; Containment by Lane Tech alum Lincoln Gaw, directed by Alex Levy, in which a pair of CDC investigators has to stop the spread of a dread condition known as Ohio; and These Glass Lives by Kenwood Academy grad Jake Florell, directed by Pegasus's executive producing director Ilesa Duncan, in which a young Black man breaks into an older Black man's home seeking sanctuary from the police who are pursuing him.

Saints & Sinners Bingo Online

1/14-2/21: available with purchase via Vimeo Thu-Sat 8 PM CST, Sun 2 PM CST

Buy Tickets$20


A streaming version of this Late Nite Catechism offshoot finds former nun Mrs. Mary Margaret O’Brien (Kathleen Puls Andrade) trying to raise money for the archdiocese with a new bingo game. The premise is that the players try to decide which saints and sinners belong on the Catholic calendar. The show, originally written as a 2016 fundraiser for the Academy of Our Lady of Guam, was filmed last year with a "socially distanced" audience at the Royal George, and a portion of all ticket sales will benefit the retirement fund for the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago.

Intimate Apparel Canceled

3/12-4/19: Wed 1 and 7:30 PM, Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2:30 and 8 PM, Sun 2:30 PM; also Tue 3/17 and 4/17, 7:30 PM; Sun 3/15 and 3/29, 7 PM; Wed 4/8, 7:30 PM only; Sat 3/14, 8 PM only; no performance Sun 4/12
Northlight Theatre North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie Skokie

Buy TicketsPreviews 3/12-3/19, $30-$61; regular run 3/20-4/19, $30-$89, $15 students all performances (pending availability)


UPDATE Friday, March 13: this event has been postponed until further notice. Contact the box office for information about exchanges or refunds.

Esther, a Black seamstress in 1905 Manhattan falls in love through an epistolary relationship with a Caribbean man working on the Panama Canal, but their marriage turns out differently than she hoped for. Lynn Nottage's 2003 drama, directed for Northlight by Tasia A. Jones, provides a portrait of the way Esther's life intersects with other women, including a wealthy socialite, her landlady, and a prostitute who also plays ragtime in a brothel. Mildred Marie Langford stars as Esther. There will be an open captioning performance on Sat 4/11, 2:30 PM. 847-673-6300

What Is Left, Burns Online

11/11/20-8/31/21: Available streaming anytime through Steppenwolf NOW subscription

Buy Tickets$75 for entire Steppenwolf NOW subscription series; $50 for essential workers, teachers, and students; all Classic, Black, and Red Card members receive Steppenwolf NOW for free


In response to COVID-19 and the ongoing shutdown, Steppenwolf unveils a new digital subscription series, Steppenwolf NOW, kicking it off with this 20-minute play by James Ijames (Kill Move Paradise). Directed by Whitney White and starring Steppenwolf ensemble members K. Todd Freeman and Jon Michael Hill, the story follows a video reunion between two poets and former lovers after a 15-year estrangement.

Journey Around My Bedroom Online

Through 1/10 as livestream Fri 7 PM, Sat 2 PM, Sun 11 AM and 2 PM (all times CST); on demand as of 1/11

Buy Ticketspay what you can, $25 suggested donation


New Ohio Theatre, a New York-based company, presents this play by Dianne Nora, directed by former Chicagoan Jaclyn Biskup. The story involves Xavi, an imaginative young girl stranded alone in her bedroom who finds a mysterious stranger who is searching for a part to fix his flying machine. The quest becomes a way to illuminate the everyday magic of Xavi's world. The show includes original music by Hyeyoung Kim and puppets designed by Myra Reavis. Created specifically for online viewing, it invites viewers to turn their cameras on to participate in select scenes. A post-show talkback after each performance invites viewers to meet the puppeteers, ask questions, and explore behind the scenes. Audience members will also receive a printable puppet template that they can make and color at home.

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.

Improvised Dungeons & Dragons Free

7 PM Sunday

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Otherworld Theatre and Out on a Whim will present new (but previously recorded) episodes every Sunday during the COVID-19 shutdown of this all-improvised show in which the classic role-playing game comes to life.

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.

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."

Still/Here Free

Available anytime through Vimeo


Free Street Theater offers a free streaming version of this 2019 full-length production that encompasses "Manifestos for Joy and Survival" in a city facing rapid changes and displacement of communities.

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.

Never the Milk & Honey Online

Available anytime with purchase

Buy Tickets$15 for three-day pass


MPAACT's "Podcast Plays" series presents an audio play version of Shepsu Aakhu's 2017 drama about a "doomdsday preacher" who wakes up to find that the world hasn't ended, and cedes responsibility to his wife. Carla Stillwell directs. Reader critic Dan Jakes praised Aakhu's "sympathetic, compassionate gaze" in his review of the original production.