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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.

The Line Recommended Free The Short List (Theater)

Through 6/21: available anytime on demand

Buy TicketsFree, but donations accepted

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The Public Theater presents an original documentary play, produced entirely online, about frontline health-care workers in New York during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring of 2020. Created by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen (The Exonerated) and directed by Blank, the play, shot using a cast of seven filmed in their homes, is derived from interviews conducted with EMTs, nurses, doctors, and others. It is available with American Sign Language interpretation here; with audio description here; and with Spanish and Chinese subtitles. For information about accessible digital content, contact accessibility@publictheater.org.

Bisa Butler: Portraits Recommended Member Picks Agenda

through 9/6
Art Institute of Chicago 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago Loop

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Note: extended through 9/6.

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.

Apsáalooke Women and Warriors Recommended All Ages

Through 7/18/21: Thu-Mon, 9 AM-5 PM
Field Museum 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago Museum Campus

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The Apsáalooke people of the Northern Plains were beaders, artists, mothers, two-spirited people, and warriors. This exhibition features contemporary beadwork and fashion of the Apsáalooke as well as 100-year-old war shields. The exhibition is presented in both English and Spanish, with select sections also in Apsáalooke. 312-922-9410

Soul Healing Satsang with Stacy Patrice Recommended Agenda Online

Sundays, 1 p.m.

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Healing artist and soul healer Stacy Patrice offers a weekly online satsang (a convening in the yogic tradition where participants consciously gather to align with goodness). Hosted by the Rebuild Foundation and aired Sundays on their Instagram Live.

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."

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."

Of Dice and Men Recommended Member Picks 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+.

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."

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

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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."

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

W.o.W. Online

5/17-6/30: available streaming on demand anytime with purchase

Buy Tickets$20


Theatre Above the Law presents a new adaptation of H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds by Kiely Sugayan, winner of the company's 2019 24-Hour Adaptation Festival. In Sugayan's tale, set exclusively in bathrooms, a woman at three different points in her life faces the real threats in the outside world: "gross men." TAtL artistic director Tony Lawry directs a cast featuring Izzy Schafer, Lena Valenti, Megan Clarke, Zariya Butler, and Carina Lastimosa.

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

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.

Red Folder Online

1/27-8/31: available anytime with 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 NOW continues the theater's all-digital season with a piece by ensemble member Rajiv Joseph (Guards at the Taj, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) about a first grader who stores all his woes inside a red folder, and years later seeks vengeance. The animated piece features Joseph's illustrations (animated by Christopher Huizar), with narration by Carrie Coon and original music by Chris P. Thompson.

Little Shop of Horrors

Through 6/19: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 3 and 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM
Metropolis Performing Arts Centre 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights Suburbs Northwest

Buy Tickets$40


Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights returns to live performance with an outdoor staging of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken's 1982 horror-comedy musical, based on Roger Corman's 1960 cult film, The Little Shop of Horrors, about a nebbishy florist-shop assistant, the girl he falls in love with, and the deadly plant that gets in the way of their romance. Enrico Spada directs, with music direction by Kenneth McMullen and choreography by Breon Arzell. The production takes place at the corner of Evergreen and Eastman, a few blocks north of the theater. Patrons are required to wear masks and folding chairs and restrooms are provided. No outside food or beverages are permitted. 847-577-2121

Jo Ractliffe: Drives Agenda

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

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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. Work in Galleries 1-4 on view through August and work in Gallery 188 on view through May. 312-443-3600

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.

New Faces Sing Broadway 1961 Online

4/16-5/16: available online with purchase anytime

Buy Tickets$25-$50


Porchlight Music Theatre presents a virtual revue, recorded live at the Studebaker Theatre in the Fine Arts Building and directed by Brianna Borger, with music direction and arrangements by Tom Vendafreddo. As the title suggests, the show focuses on shows that premiered in the 1961 Broadway season, with host Kelvin Roston Jr. providing the context for the material. Among the hits of that year are How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Subways Are for Sleeping, and Stop the World—I Want to Get Off. The cast includes Lexie Bailey, Nicole Barth, Marcus Canada, Chloe Howard, Izzie Jones, Clare Kennedy, Maurice Rex Randle, Abraham Shaw, and Tommy Thurston. 773-777-9884

I Am the Bear Free Online

5/14-7/15: available online anytime

Buy TicketsFree


Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival presents a short puppet film created by Jerrell L. Henderson, based on his experiences being racially profiled on the North Shore and the consequences of "walking while Black." It was produced in association with Healing Illinois, a project of the Illinois Department of Human Services aimed at "building a bridge to a racially equitable Illinois."

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

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

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The sculptures of Chicago-based artist Richard Hunt. 312-443-3600

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.