Events with The Short List (Theater) | Chicago Reader

Events with The Short List (Theater)

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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.

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+.

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.

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.

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."

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."

. . . 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.

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."

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.

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."

Zoo Motel Online

1/14-1/24, Thu-Sun 7 PM CST

Buy Tickets$21


Links Hall presents a piece by director-theatermaker Thadddeus Phillips, livestreamed nightly from a small village outside Bogotá, Colombia. Audiences (limited to 21 nightly) visit the "rooms" in the motel via a specially designed miniature camera, which captures weird and whimsical recreations of objects such as the Mojave phone booth, a miniature Titanic, and a copy of the Voyager golden record.

The Journey Online

1/12-1/24: Tue-Sat 6:30 and 8 PM CST, Sun 4:30 and 6:30 PM CST

Buy Tickets$45-$65 "per screen"


Chicago Shakespeare presents Scottish illusionist-mentalist Scott Silven's show in a ticketed streaming presentation as part of their WorldStage series. Each performance is limited to 30 audience members, who go on an interactive "a virtual journey" from their home to Silven's rural Scottish setting. "To experience the show, each ticket holder must have their own iPad, desktop, or laptop computer with stable internet connection, a webcam, microphone, and headphones."

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

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

The Wild Party Variety Hour Member Picks The Short List (Theater)

Open run: every last Saturday of the month, 11 PM
HQ 1914 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago Wicker Park/Bucktown


Burlesque, vaudeville, shtick, and other types of performance, hosted by Silent Theatre. 312-533-8023

Kickback Recommended Free Closing (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater) Online

Open run: available online anytime


About Face Theatre presents a streaming festival of new works, conceived and directed by associate artistic director Mikael Burke. The pieces all highlight "the intersection of queerness and Blackness in all its beauty and glory," and were created in association with Rebuild Foundation, drawing on Rebuild's collection of African American art and cultural artifacts. The lineup includes: Black Woman on Purpose by Michael Turrentine, in which a weekly Zoom call between three generations of Black women becomes a coming-out occasion: Frankie & Labi Saved Us by Robert Cornelius and Paul Oakley Stovall, about an artist suffering PTSD in the pandemic seeking help from a Black male therapist; an introduction to the upcoming feature-length documentary Do Black Lives Matter? by Ben F. Locke; john 11:35 [fo(r) all de lazurus(is)], by avrey r young, a 3-part "sermon of service addressing the erasure of varied blk bodies (specifically trans-bodies) in the age of #BLKLIVESMATTER"; Pangea by Dionne Addai, a piece utilizing poetry, music, and movement to examine the history and legacy of colonization; See Us as We Are by Vic Wynter, which uses the story Chicago house pioneer Frankie Knuckles to examine resistance to erasure of Black queer narratives; LITANY | PT. IV | EBONY by Jenn Freeman, which celebrates Ebony magazine; OM Mission by ShaZah (Shanta Nurullah and Zahra Baker), which explores Black lesbians from the Harlem Renaissance to present-day Chicago; and What We See by Kirsten Baity, Keyonna Jackson, and Cori Wash, "a series of short pieces exploring and exposing the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of growing up Black and queer in the USA."

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

Buy Tickets Buy Tickets


773-472-0449