Performing Arts Events with Online | Chicago Reader

Performing Arts Events with Online

  • Detail View
  • List View
  • Grid View
46 results

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."

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


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.

Sexy Baby Recommended Free The Short List (Theater) Online

Available anytime on YouTube

Buy TicketsFree


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.

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.

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."

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


Buy TicketsFree


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."

Journey Around My Bedroom Online

Through 1/10 as livestream Fri 7 PM, Sat 2 PM, Sun 11 AM and 2 PM (all times CST); on demand as of 1/11

Buy Ticketspay what you can, $25 suggested donation

New Ohio Theatre, a New York-based company, presents this play by Dianne Nora, directed by former Chicagoan Jaclyn Biskup. The story involves Xavi, an imaginative young girl stranded alone in her bedroom who finds a mysterious stranger who is searching for a part to fix his flying machine. The quest becomes a way to illuminate the everyday magic of Xavi's world. The show includes original music by Hyeyoung Kim and puppets designed by Myra Reavis. Created specifically for online viewing, it invites viewers to turn their cameras on to participate in select scenes. A post-show talkback after each performance invites viewers to meet the puppeteers, ask questions, and explore behind the scenes. Audience members will also receive a printable puppet template that they can make and color at home.

Saints & Sinners Bingo Online

1/14-2/21: available with purchase via Vimeo Thu-Sat 8 PM CST, Sun 2 PM CST

Buy Tickets$20

A streaming version of this Late Nite Catechism offshoot finds former nun Mrs. Mary Margaret O’Brien (Kathleen Puls Andrade) trying to raise money for the archdiocese with a new bingo game. The premise is that the players try to decide which saints and sinners belong on the Catholic calendar. The show, originally written as a 2016 fundraiser for the Academy of Our Lady of Guam, was filmed last year with a "socially distanced" audience at the Royal George, and a portion of all ticket sales will benefit the retirement fund for the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago.

Hit 'Em on the Blackside Free Online

Through 3/31: available online anytime


Congo Square Theatre Company presents an online sketch comedy show, directed by Anthony Irons and created by cast members Tiffany Addison, Ronald L. Conner, Alexis J. Roston, and Kelvin Roston Jr., with Malcom Banks as director of photography. The series, inspired by Irons's 2014 live sketch show, Tales from the Blackside, was developed in biweekly webisodes, broadcast through Congo Square's Instagram and Facebook pages. The entire first show is available free online at the company's website. The second show will begin posting biweekly sketches on Fridays March 19-May 28, with the full second Hit ‘Em on the Blackside show posted online Saturday, May 29.

34th Annual Young Playwrights Festival Online

1/7-1/31: Thu-Sat 7 PM, Sun 4 PM (available streaming for 48 hours after purchase of selected performance)

Buy Tickets$20 adults, $12 students 22 and under

Pegasus Theatre Chicago goes virtual for their yearly celebration of young writers, whose work was developed in partnership with Chicago high schools. This year's lineup includes: A Lady’s Facade by Aisha Ziad of University of Chicago Laboratory School, directed by Reshmi Hazra Rustebakke, in which a fired arts curator still pursues a mystery surrounding the Mona Lisa; Containment by Lane Tech alum Lincoln Gaw, directed by Alex Levy, in which a pair of CDC investigators has to stop the spread of a dread condition known as Ohio; and These Glass Lives by Kenwood Academy grad Jake Florell, directed by Pegasus's executive producing director Ilesa Duncan, in which a young Black man breaks into an older Black man's home seeking sanctuary from the police who are pursuing him.

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.

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.

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."

Joffrey Ballet Free Online

Available through the company website or YouTube channel anytime

During the COVID-19 shutdown, the Joffrey highlights a different production from its history every week with production footage and behind-the-scenes interviews with artists involved in the show. Every Thursday at 2 PM, the Joffrey also features "On Cue," a weekly check in (via Instagram) with a Joffrey company artist about "how they’re staying fit, what they’re doing to stay sane and even share some of their favorite quarantine recipes."

Every Waiting Heart Free Online


Buy TicketsFree, but donations accepted

Artemisia presents an audio play by Lauren Ferebee, winner of the company's 2018 Fall Festival of new feminist plays. Originally scheduled for a full live production, Ferebee's story of an overworked single mother and her rebellious teen daughter has been reconfigured as a radio drama, directed by Artemisia founding artistic director Julie Proudfoot.

Until the Flood Free Online

Premieres Sun 11/17, 7 PM CST; available through All ARTS until fall of 2023

Buy TicketsFree

Dael Orlandersmith's solo documentary play follows the aftermath of the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Originally commissioned by Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Orlandersmith's show (directed by Neel Keller) played at several regionals around the country, including a production at the Goodman in the spring of 2018. This archival recording will stream free for three years through All ARTS app from WNET in New York. Reader critic Dan Jakes wrote of the Goodman presentation, "Derived on dozens of interviews with Ferguson and Saint Louis residents, Orlandersmith has crafted eight composite characters with layered, thorny takes on the anger, fear, privilege, injustice, assumptions, and institutional breakdowns that factor into the cycle of violence committed against people of color by American law enforcement."

Mother of the Dark Water Online

Available anytime with purchase

Buy Tickets$15 for three-day pass

MPAACT's "Podcast Plays" series provides an audio play version of a piece devised and directed by Lauren Wells-Mann, featuring vocal arrangements by Lynsey Moxie and original music by Danjuma Gaskin. Inspired by original images of the Black Madonna, five Black women "decide to reclaim their truth and voices in the normative feminist movement." The piece draws upon personal history and original poetry.

Moony Free Online

Open run: available online anytime

Buy TicketsFree

Steep Theatre presents a free new radio play by Ike Holter, directed by Joanie Schultz.

Pasión Latina Free Online

Streaming anytime

Buy TicketsFree


Lyric Opera's Ryan Opera Center presents a free streaming virtual concert, hosted by soprano Ana María Martínez and featuring songs from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Argentina, and Spain. The lineup includes Ryan alums René Barbera, David Portillo, Mario Rojas, and Richard Ollarsaba and two current Ryan ensemble members—Denis Vélez and Puerto Ricardo José Rivera. It's available through the Lyric YouTube and Facebook pages.

Never the Milk & Honey Online

Available anytime with purchase

Buy Tickets$15 for three-day pass

MPAACT's "Podcast Plays" series presents an audio play version of Shepsu Aakhu's 2017 drama about a "doomdsday preacher" who wakes up to find that the world hasn't ended, and cedes responsibility to his wife. Carla Stillwell directs. Reader critic Dan Jakes praised Aakhu's "sympathetic, compassionate gaze" in his review of the original production.

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.

Starting Over Online

Available anytime with purchase

Buy Tickets$15 for three-day pass

MPAACT's "Podcast Plays" series offers an audio play version of Shepsu Aakhu's romantic drama about a pair of small-town lovers (a Black boy and a white girl) finding new challenges when they reconnect in the city in the aftermath of the latter's coming out as a trans male. Lauren "LL" Lundy directs.

Play(s) at Home Free Online

Available via YouTube anytime

Connective Theatre Company's response to the COVID-19 shutdown, this festival of short plays solicited works from artists tackling various aspects of the pandemic. The company selected eight pieces and rehearsed and performed them via Zoom within 72 hours. The program is broken into three acts around the themes of "Navigating Solitude and Quarantine," "Anxiety, Fear, and Hysteria in the age of COVID-19," and "Navigating Relationships in Quarantine." There are interludes between each act with artistic director Chase Hauser and licensed clinical social worker Erich Heintzen discussing the issues raised by the plays.

Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration Free All Ages Online

Available any time on YouTube

In honor of Stephen Sondheim's 90th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the Broadway opening of Company, Raúl Esparza, who won a Tony as Bobby in the 2006 revival of the latter, produced this all-star virtual concert of Sondheim's work. The lineup includes performances and tributes from Patti LuPone, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Nathan Lane, Bernadette Peters, Kelli Peters, and many others. Mary-Mitchell Campbell served as music director and Paul Wontorek as director. Available free, but donations accepted for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), a nonprofit founded by Campbell and Juilliard students to help youth in underserved communities receive access to arts training.

Diamond's Dream Free Online

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

Buy TicketsFree

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.

We Series: Sleep featuring work by Unyimeabasi Udoh, Marvin Tate & Jordan Reyes, A.J. McClenon, Kurt Chiang, Bethany Younge Free Agenda Online

Tue., Jan. 19, 7 p.m.

Buy Tickets

, , ,
An online version of the performance, film, and live art series usually hosted at Elastic Arts. Livestream at the organization's Twitch channel.

Other People Online

Tue 1/19, 7 PM CST

Buy Tickets$10

PrideArts continues its virtual readings series with Christopher Shinn's play about three friends in New York's East Village, struggling with "questions of art, sex, and each other" on the cusp of a new year. Tim Ashby directs