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2020 Dance Community Celebration Happy Hour Free

Tue 10/6, 6 PM CDT

Buy TicketsFree, but reservation required

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See Chicago Dance reimagines its annual celebration of the local dance community with this Zoom event, honoring Joel Hall, founding artistic director of Joel Hall Dancers & Center, who receives the Legacy Award, and Gail Kalver, former executive director for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the now-gone River North Dance Chicago, who receives the Distinguished Service to the Dance Field Award. Hall and Kalver will share stories of their experiences in Chicago dance, with attendees invited to join in.

45 Plays for America's First Ladies

10/8-11/2: livestreamed performances with audience participation 10/8, 10/9, and 10/11 7:30 PM CDT; available online anytime afterward

Buy Tickets$15


The Neo-Futurists present a digital companion piece to their hit 43 Plays for 43 Presidents, which premiered in 2004 and was remounted in 2012. In this look at the women who were FLOTUS (written by Neo-Futurists alumni Andy Bayiates, Bilal Dardai, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Sharon Greene, and Chloe Johnston and directed by Denise Yvette Serna), the focus is on using the office of First Lady "as a lens to examine the roles that women and other marginalized individuals have played in the development of America."

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.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre Free

Available anytime through YouTube or company website


During the COVID-19 shutdown, Alvin Ailey launches a new streaming service with recordings of full-length works, original short films from the dance community, virtual dance classes, and more.

. . . 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."

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.

The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience & Hootennany Recommended Member Picks The Short List (Theater)

Open run: Mon 8 PM
iO Theater 1501 N. Kingsbury, Chicago Lincoln Park

An old standby, this weekly show transforms performer monologues (delivered by a different guest each time) into inspiration for a night of masterful long-form improv. The best-of-the-best iO talent typically make up the cast, so the show hops from literal moments from the story to abstract, playful scenes with aplomb.

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.

The Balancing Arab Free

Available streaming anytime through website


A politically active Arab American and her Irish American personal fitness trainer share their impressions of an event at the Arab American Cultural Center, leading to tensions during the workout session. Silk Road Rising cofounder Jamil Khoury wrote this short video play, directed by Anne Jacques.

BeMoved to Action

Sun 9/27, 11:30 AM; Sun 10/10 and 10/24, 10 AM
Northcenter Town Square 4100 N. Damen Ave., Chicago North Center

BeMoved offers a series of outdoor dance classes, combined with raising awareness of (and funds for) several social justice organizations. On Sunday, September 27, Jennifer Edgcomb leads a disco class, with funds raised for Until Justice Just Is/The Racial Justice League at YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. On Sunday October 10, 10 AM, the event is at the DuSable Museum of African American History (740 E. 56th Place) and benefits the museum. On Sunday 10/24, 10 AM, the event takes place at Altgeld Park (515 S. Washtenaw Ave.) and benefits Westside Justice Center.

Hannah Berner 18+ Agenda

Tue., Oct. 27, 7 p.m.
Schubas 3159 N. Southport Ave., Chicago Lakeview

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Mike Birbiglia Agenda

Fri., May 21, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Theatre 175 N. State St., Chicago Loop

Buy from Ticketmaster


The Blackout Diaries Recommended Agenda The Short List (Theater)

Open run: Sat 10 PM
Lincoln Lodge 956 W. Newport, Chicago North Center

The gregarious Sean Flannery tells stories about adventures he's had inebriated out of his mind. He's joined each week by other comedians and the occasional layman—each with a drunken tale to tell. 773-251-1539

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

both/and Free

Available streaming anytime through website


Jamil Khoury, the cofounder of Silk Road Rising, wrote this semiautobiographical short video play, directed by J. Paul Preseault that "explores and explodes the persistent tensions between American and Arab, Arab American and gay, for profit and not for profit, and assorted other 'disputed territories.'"

Box & Cox

Thu 10/22 and 10/29, 7 PM CDT

Buy Tickets$25


PrideArts continues its season of "closet plays" (plays designed to be read, rather than fully performed) with this livestreamed reading of John Madisson Morton's 1847 farce, based on the French vaudeville Frisette, in which a landlady rents out a room to two different men (one works nights, the other days). It's available on a ticketed basis for two performances only through the company's website.

Box and Cox

Thu 10/22 and 10/29, 7 PM CDT

Buy Tickets$25


PrideArts continues its virtual "Closet Play" fall season with this live Zoom presentation of a one-act farce by John Maddison Morton, directed by artistic director Donterrio Johnson. Morton's 1847 play, based on the French vaudeville Frisette, involves a rooming-house proprietress who is letting out the same set of lodgings to two men, one of whom works nights and the other days. The show will be livestreamed via the PrideArts website for two performances only.

Broadway by the Decade

9/25-10/25: available streaming anytime for 72 hours after purchase

Buy Tickets$15-$50


Porchlight Music Theatre kicks off its virtual season with this "guided tour" of Broadway's musical history, from the late 1800s to the present. Artistic director Michael Weber serves as the guide, with musical direction by Michael McBride and videography and editing by Austin Packard. A cast of Porchlight favorites perform numbers specially reconfigured for this event. Some of the highlighted shows include Show Boat, Girl Crazy, Funny Girl, Les Misérables, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and Waitress.

Hannibal Buress Recommended Agenda Sold Out (Music)

Sun., Sept. 27, 5 & 8:30 p.m.
Adler Planetarium Parking Lot 1362 S. Linn White Dr., Chicago Museum Campus

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sold out

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

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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.

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.

Closet Play: A Benefit Concert Free

Wed 9/30, 7 PM CDT

Buy TicketsFree, but donations accepted


PrideArts (formerly Pride Films and Plays) kicks off its "Closet Play" virtual fall series with this benefit concert. The "closet play" denotes a play that was meant to be read rather than performed, and has its roots in part in 17th-century England, when public performances of plays were banned, thanks to the double whammy of the plague and the censorious Puritan ways of Oliver Cromwell. Upcoming plays in this virtual season include Box and Cox by John Maddison Morton, A Pair of Lunatics by W.R. Walkes, and The Proposal by Anton Chekov (see separate listings). This benefit features original jazz compositions intertwined with the poetry of James Baldwin and Tennessee Williams, performed by a cast of 14. It's conceived and directed by PrideArts artistic director Donterrio Johnson. The concert will be available via the company website and Facebook page, both during the live performance and then afterward.

Cole's Comedy Open Mike Recommended Member Picks Free 21+ Agenda The Short List (Theater)

Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m.
Cole’s 2338 N. Milwaukee, Chicago Logan Square

UPDATE: as of Wednesday, March 11, 2020 at 11:00 PM, this event has been canceled until further notice. A virtual open mike has been scheduled in its place.

Hosted by Carly Kane and Alex Kumin, this scrappy showcase boasts about 50 comics a week. 773-276-5802

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.

Comedians You Should Know Recommended Member Picks Agenda The Short List (Theater)

Open run: Thu 9 PM

A mix of barflys and independent comedy fans flocks to this weekly showcase, one of the best in the city. The room is friendly, and if hecklers appear, they're shut down affably by Chicago's top stand-ups. It's not a place to try out new material, so the comedians hit jokes hard. And the audience, sitting close and around the stage like a big hug, welcomes the change of pace from the bar's drunk tomfoolery. CYSK is an appropriate name. 312-642-0700

ComedySportz Free


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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.

ComedySportz Theatre Recommended Member Picks The Short List (Theater)

Open run: Thu 8 PM, Fri 8 and 10 PM, Sat 6, 8, and 10 PM
ComedySportz Theatre 929 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago Lakeview

Buy from Ticketmaster$19

Part of a national chain of comedy clubs, this company is known for quick improv games (think Whose Line Is It Anyway?), but it also stages long-form improv. LCD screens and sophisticated lighting and sound systems amplify the sports-style improv of the company's eponymous production, ComedySportz. There's a snobbery in the Chicago improv community that looks up at the "art" of the long form, with its emphasis on story and characters, and down on the "entertainment" of the short, with its emphasis on games and punch lines. ComedySportz falls emphatically in the entertainment camp; its bottom line is laughter, and it gets plenty of it. The show is structured as a competition between two teams performing multiple games that require audience participation. A referee ensures that the players--a rotating roster from a company of about 50--work clean or they finish the game with a brown bag over their heads. The formula is practically foolproof: players may flash their quick wits in winning responses, but they're even funnier when they fail. In one game a team had to devise a pick-up line, each member contributing a word. Moving rapidly from player to player, the line developed: "Tonight-I'll-tango-with-your-face." Probably wouldn't work at a bar, but at ComedySportz it killed. --Ryan Hubbard 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212