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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.

Bisa Butler: Portraits Recommended Agenda

11/16-4/19
Art Institute of Chicago 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago Loop

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Note: as of November 18, 2020, the Art Institute is closed to visitors due to the governor's COVID-19 distancing directives for the state of Illinois.

Bisa Butler's portrait quilts capture personal and historical narratives of Black life. This is the first solo museum exhibition of the Howard University alum's work. 312-443-3600

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.

A Tale of Today: Nate Young and Mika Horibuchi Recommended Agenda

Through 1/16: Fri 5-7 PM, Sat 11 AM-5 PM, Sun 11 AM-3 PM
Driehaus Museum 40 E. Erie, Chicago River North

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In "A Tale of Today," Chicago-based artists Nate Young and Mika Horibuchi respond to the 1883 Nickerson Mansion's history and design, with a look at the interiors and architecture of the building, as well as an investigation of historical narratives. 312-482-8933

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

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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.

The Long Dream Recommended Agenda

11/7/20-1/17/21

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A group exhibition of more than 70 local artists whose work offers ways for us to imagine a more equitable and interconnected world. Featuring work by Alberto Aguilar, Madeleine Aguilar, Candida Alvarez, Jeanette Andrews, Selva Aparicio, Lise Haller Baggesen, Sarah Bastress, Jonas N.T. Becker, Dawoud Bey, Nick Cave, Mariano Chavez, Diane Christiansen and Jeanne Dunning with Steve Dawson, Jessica Christy, Mike Cloud, Bethany Collins, the Experimental Sound Studio, Brendan Fernandes, Julia Fish, Joanna Furnans, Max Guy, Andres L. Hernandez, Paul Heyer, Shawné Michaelain Holloway, Jesse Howard, Aaron Hughes, Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, Manal Kara, Jin Soo Kim, Wesley Kimler, Kirsten Leenaars, Riva Lehrer, Tony Lewis, Tonika Lewis Johnson, Damon Locks, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Derek McPhatter, Miller & Shellabarger, Devin T. Mays, Cae Monāe, Corinne Mucha, Floating Museum with Cecil McDonald Jr., Ryan Nault, Jeroen Nelemans, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, William J. O'Brien, OTV (Open Television), Chris Pappan, Kamau Amu Patton, Nereida Patricia, Ebony G. Patterson, Claire Pentecost, Jefferson Pinder, Cheryl Pope, William Pope.L, Quarantine Times, Eduardo F. Rosario, Jason Salavon, Moises Salazar, Farah Salem, Darling “Shear” Squire, Andy Slater, Edra Soto, Leonard Suryajaya, Selina Trepp, Jina Valentine, Kevin Weil, Rhonda Wheatley, Amanda Williams, Bernard Williams, Sadie Woods, Derrick Woods-Morrow, Santiago X, Guanyu Xu, Debra Yepa-Pappan, Nate Young, and Kiki Jia Qi Zhen 312-280-2660

The Roedelius Cells Recommended Free Agenda Early Warnings (Music)

12/11/20-1/31/21, by appointment
Experimental Sound Studio 5925 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago Ravenswood

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A sound installation by Grammy-nominated composer Tim Story created from thousands of short extracts culled from a decade of informal piano recordings made with his friend and colleague Hans-Joachim Roedelius. 773-769-1069

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."

. . . 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."

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

Mondays-Sundays

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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."

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.

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+.

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.

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."

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.

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.

The Other Art Fair presents AMFM Recommended Free Online

Ongoing


The Other Art Fair's Online Studios is a digital hub for artists meant to exhibit in the 2020 Spring fairs. The fair launched an online exhibition of 10 artists curated by AMFM's founder Ciera McKissick.

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

Friday Night Fuzz Box Recommended Free Online

Fridays, 9 p.m.


Every Friday night, the Fuzz Box DJs live stream a five-hour set of party music including soul, post-punk, psych, noise-rock, and more.

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

Scholar’s Rock or Stone of Hope or Love of Bronze

Through the summer of 2021
Art Institute of Chicago 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago Loop

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Note: as of November 18, 2020, the Art Institute is closed to visitors due to the governor's COVID-19 distancing directives for the state of Illinois.

The sculptures of Chicago-based artist Richard Hunt, on view at the Art Institute of Chicago's Bluhm Family Terrace. 312-443-3600

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.

Jo Ractliffe: Drives Agenda

Through 4/26
Art Institute of Chicago 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago Loop

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Note: as of November 18, 2020, the Art Institute is closed to visitors due to the governor's COVID-19 distancing directives for the state of Illinois.

The first survey organized of the work of South African photographer Jo Ractliffe includes images of the port city of Durban, video installations, and more. 312-443-3600

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

Alien vs. Citizen Agenda

7/17/20-2/21/21

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An exhibition about citizenship, migration, and an individual's value in the United States, featuring work by Monica Bock, Jennifer Bornstein, Stephanie Brooks, Mary E. Carlisle, Enrique Chagoya, Larry Clark, Dora García, Cathy Lynn Gasser, Melissa Goldstein, Ramiro Gomez, Doug Hall, Gabriel Kuri, the group Claire Fontaine, Glenn Ligon, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Kerry James Marshall, Hương Ngô, Christina Quarles, Robert Rauschenberg, Andres Serrano, Sandrine Sheon, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Catherine Smith, Nedko Solakov, Thomas Struth, Hồng-Ân Trương, Gillian Wearing, Carrie Mae Weems, and Eric Wesley. 312-280-2660

Knobl Hearts Agenda

Through Jan. 15
Co-Prosperity Sphere 3219 S. Morgan St., Chicago Bridgeport


An installation about garlic and Jewish identity. Viewable in the Co-Prosperity Sphere's windows, from writer and artist Casey Carsel. 773-862-1232

Emotions Go to Work

Through March 2021: Mon-Fri 9:30 AM-5 PM, Sat-Sun 10 AM-5 PM
International Museum of Surgical Science 1524 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago Near North

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Note: as of December 2020, the International Museum of Surgical Science is closed to visitors until further notice to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Scottish-born artist Zoe Beloff presents an installation at the museum that investigates "how our emotions and feelings have been turned into commodities and instrumentalized by global corporations." 312-642-6502

The Second City Free

See website for full information

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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.

Shakes@Home Free

Available anytime through the website

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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.