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24-Hour Playfest Free Online

Sun 4/18, 8 PM CDT

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Nothing Without a Company and Kuma Kahua Theatre in Honolulu collaborate on this festival of six mini-plays, all created within 24 hours by separate teams of artists (picked at random), and all focused on the theme of cannabis. The final versions of the 10-minute pieces will stream live over the Nothing Without a Company YouTube channel and Facebook page, with a 30-minute talkback after the final play.

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.

Among USz Free 17+ Online

Open run: Thu 7 PM CST

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ComedySportz Theater Chicago presents a live weekly show via Twitch, inspired by the online multiplayer game "Among Us." Ten players each week have to "run around their spaceship and solve menial tasks" while trying to avoid the unknown killers who lurk around the corner.

. . . 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 Online

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.

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 Agenda Online

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.

Being the Dream Free Online

Available streaming anytime through website

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The Drama Group in Chicago Heights presents a free online celebration of Black American experience, encompassing monologues, poetry, music, and more, all solicited from the community and offering "a patchwork quilt of beauty and pain, history and mythology, melody in music and meter in poems." Kelly Campos directs.

Mike Birbiglia Agenda

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

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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."

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.'"

The Cabinet Recommended The Short List (Theater) Online

Through 5/22: available for download 24 hours after purchase

Cabinet of Curiosity unveils its new radio theater program, Phonophobia, with this adaptation of the 2005 play by the late Redmoon Theater of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari by Mickle Maher. The 1920 silent film classic by director Robert Wiene, written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer, is considered a masterpiece of German expressionism, and concerns a malevolent hypnotist who uses a somnambulist to commit murders. The Redmoon version was conceived and directed by Frank Maugeri, Maher, and Mark Messing, with the latter providing sound design and competition. The cast includes Colm O'Reilly, HB Ward, David Stobbe, Diana Slickman, Lindsey Noel Whiting, and Samuel Taylor. Reader critic Kerry Reid called the Redmoon 2010 remount "stunning" and said it was "one nightmare that shouldn't be missed."

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

Cape Town Opera presents Mandela Trilogy All Ages Early Warnings (Music)

Fri., April 29, 7:30 p.m. and Sat., April 30, 7:30 p.m.
Harris Theater 205 E. Randolph St., Chicago Loop

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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.

Chicago Sings Rock & Roll Broadway Online

3/20-4/18: live performance Sat 3/20, 7 PM CDT; available streaming afterward anytime through 4/18

Buy TicketsGala on Sat 3/20, $25-$5,000; $25 for streaming download afterward (good for 72 hours within time of purchase)

Porchlight Music Theatre presents a salute to the marriage between Broadway musicals and rock ’n’ roll with this livestreaming fundraising concert, which will be available afterward for viewing anytime. The evening includes the presentation of the 2021 Guy Adkins Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Music Theatre to Felicia P. Fields, a longtime veteran of Chicago stages and the original "Sofia" in The Color Purple, named in honor of the late Chicago performer who died of cancer in 2010.

Ronny Chieng: the Hope You Get Rich Tour 17+ Agenda

Sat., April 17, 7:30 & 10 p.m.
Thalia Hall 1807 S. Allport Ave., Chicago Pilsen/Little Village

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A Christmas Carol in the Dark The Short List (Theater) Online

Available anytime with purchase

Buy Tickets$20


Theatre in the Dark, which specializes in radio-style dramas, presents a new adaptation by Mack Gordon (who also directs) of the Dickens story of Ebenezer Scrooge. Jake Sorgen composed the original music. Originally presented as a live radio play, it is now available for purchase as a downloadable audio recording.

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

Whitney Cummings Recommended 18+ Agenda The Short List (Theater)

Sat., Dec. 11, 7:30 & 10 p.m.
The Vic 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago Lakeview

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Dandelions Online

Available anytime with purchase

Buy Tickets$15 for three-day pass

MPAACT presents Tina Fakhrid-Deen's drama about a recovering addict in Bronzeville trying to save his mother's six-flat and convince his neighbors that he can be trusted again. Erica Faye Watson directs this audio play for the company's "Podcast Plays" series, with original music by Shawn Wallace.

Decomposed Theatre Recommended The Short List (Theater) Online

Available anytime with purchase

Buy Tickets$15

Trap Door Theatre's long association with Romanian French playwright Matei Vişniec continues in this multipart collection of short plays, directed by eight directors from eight cities in five countries. The piece is described by the playwright as considering "the fragments of a shattered mirror and the journey to restore the original object. Once, the mirror was perfectly whole: It reflected the heavens, the world, and all of our souls. Then it shattered. No one knows when, why, or how. The challenge before us now is to reconstruct that original, although no one has ever seen the mirror in its perfect state."

Diamond's Dream Free Online

Opens Mon 1/18, 10 AM CST, available streaming on demand anytime

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Chicago Children's Theatre presents the world premiere of a new puppet film by Chicago artists Jerrell L. Henderson and Caitlin McLeod as part of their new "Springboard" play development program. (Henderson also directs, while McLeod is the designer.) Diamond, a preteen Black boy in Chicago, falls asleep on a south-bound Red Line train on his way to visit his dying grandmother. When he wakes up, he finds that he has been joined by the spirit of a young Black girl who died exactly 100 years earlier in the 1918 flu pandemic. The two face "paranormal puppets" representing the forces of ignorance, poverty, and racism. The piece will be available streaming anytime after its January 18 premiere with CCT's YouTube channel. The Storyboard program aims to foster new works for young audiences by commissioning 14 BIPOC artists with Chicago roots.

Discourse Without Grammar Online

Opens Thu 4/22, 8 PM CDT; then available on demand in an open run

Buy Tickets$15

Trap Door Theatre continues their long-running collaboration with Romanian-French playwright Matei Vişniec (who also wrote the pieces in their recent Decomposed Theatre). Translated by Jozefina Komporaly and directed by Skye Fort, the show features eleven performers in five countries, including Venice Averyheart, Jenny Beacraft, Anarosa Butler, Marzena Bukowska, Magdalena Gera, Assaf Hochman, Neema Lahon, Emily Lotspeich, Tia Pinson, Matty Robinson, and Carl Wisniewski. The focus is on "hollow words, empty promises, and collaboration without connection."

Duchess! Duchess! Duchess! Online

3/10-3/31: 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

Steppenwolf continues its all-digital season, Steppenwolf NOW, with this piece by Vivian J.O. Barnes and directed by Weyni Mengesha, artistic director of Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre. "Loosely inspired" by the Meghan Markle story, a younger duchess-to-be (Celeste M. Cooper) meets with the current duchess (Sydney Charles) to talk about the stresses and traps lying in wait for "the luckiest girl in the world." The piece was filmed as a play and is the fourth of six productions in the Steppenwolf NOW series, all of which can be viewed with a subscription.