Theater & Performance Events | Chicago Reader

Theater & Performance Events

Loading...
  • Detail View
  • List View
  • Grid View
73 results

Home/Land Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime through Vimeo

,

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.

Plays for the People Recommended The Short List (Theater)

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

Buy Tickets$22 approximately (£19.62)

,

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. 

8/13-8/16: 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. 

8/20-8/23: Buttafly Precinct, written and directed by Sha Cage, in which "two young girls struggle to survive on the streets carrying a dark secret and a jar of butterflies across the city of Minneapolis on the eve of George Perry Floyd's murder." 

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.

Blue Man Group Recommended The Short List (Theater) Canceled

Open run: Wed-Fri 8 PM, Sat 2, 5, and 8 PM, Sun 4 PM
Briar Street Theatre 3133 N. Halsted St., Chicago Lakeview

Buy from Ticketmaster$49-$104


UPDATE Sunday, March 15: this event has suspended performances for the time being. Refunds available at point of purchase.


The long-running show (22 years and counting in Chicago) featuring performers in blue latex paint, drumming, video, comedy, and other assorted mayhem continues. 800-258-3626

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

Available in streaming format through Patreon anytime.

,

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

,

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."

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

,

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+.

Sexy Baby Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime on YouTube

Buy TicketsFree

,

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.

Still/Here Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

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.

Parched Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime through Vimeo

,

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."

Medusa Undone Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Available anytime through company website or YouTube channel

,

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."

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

In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) Canceled

3/6-4/5: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM; also Mon 3/9, 8 PM (opening night) and Wed 3/25, 8 PM; no show Sun 3/8
Edge Theater Off-Broadway 1133 W. Catalpa, Chicago Edgewater

Buy TicketsPreviews 3/6-3/7, $10; regular run 3/9-4/5, $20, $15 seniors over 65 and students any age; all Thu performances $10 industry


UPDATE Tuesday, March 17: this production has been canceled. Check with box office for refunds.


Sarah Ruhl's 2009 play, set in 1880s New York, examines "female hysteria" through a doctor who has invented a machine purported to cure it, and his wife's fascination with what is going on in the examination room. Morgan Manasa directs for Idle Muse Theatre Company. 773-340-9438

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

Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble Free

Available anytime on YouTube

, ,

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.

Otherworld Theatre

Available online anytime

,

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.

Out of Touch Free

Available streaming via website anytime

, ,

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.

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.

The Approximately Five-Minute Shelter in Place Show Free

Available anytime through website

,

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.

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

Available any time through YouTube

,

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.

Masque of the Red Coronavirus Free 18+

Available on the company website anytime.

,

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."

Freak Show Cabaret Free

Available anytime via YouTube and Facebook

,

Experimental musician and performer Sophia Lucia, who studied performing arts at University of Illinois-Chicago, offers a livestreamed version of her one-woman alternative variety-cabaret show, recorded in quarantine from her home in Paris. It's available via YouTube and her Facebook page, and the music is also available through Bandcamp.

Shakes@Home Free

Available anytime through the website

,

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.

Keeping Curious Free

Available anytime online through company website or Facebook page

,

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.

ComedySportz Free

Mondays-Saturdays

, ,

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.

Chicago Offstage! Live at Home Free

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

,

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.

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

Available any time on YouTube

,

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, Bernadette Peters, Kelli Peters, and many others. Mary-Mitchell Campbell served as music director and Paul Wontorek as director. Available free, but donations 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.

African Folktales and Stories Free

Uploads Sun 6/28, 7 PM: available anytime afterward on company website and YouTube channel

,

Elmhurst's GreenMan Theatre Troupe takes its storytelling series online by revisiting a series of traditional African tales first performed last year and reworked for a digital presentation by director Carolyn Thomas-Davidoff. The company also offers storytelling classes, beginning in August.

The Hunchback Variations Free

Available via YouTube any time

,

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.

The Second City Free

See website for full information

, ,

The Second City offers free improv and sketch content online during the COVID-19 shutdown, 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." 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 CDT. The other free shows include The Really Awesome Improv Show, styled similarly to Whose Line Is It Anyway?", every Thursday at 1 PM CDT 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 Wilco, and Fred Willard. The Second City also offers online classes for varying rates during the shutdown.

Throwing Shade Podcast Free

Mondays-Sundays

,

Eclectic Full Contact Theatre presents this hardboiled satire of 1930s crime drama, in which "The Shade" finds himself in need of assistance from "The Vamp." New episodes are unveiled every Wednesday.