We’ll continue to update this story with what’s currently available … Faced with dark theaters and empty seats, Chicago’s always-innovative theaters, comedy shops and dance companies have turned to streaming video and Zoom classes. Read on.
Also on Theater Loop: Scroll through 34 short videos with scenes and musical numbers from House Theatre’s “Verboten,” the Paramount pre-Broadway “Secret of My Success,” the Northlight “Intimate Apparel” that you never got to see; www.chicagotribune.com/theaterloop
16th Street Theater announces the Play At Home project, a series of 10-minute plays commissioned by the Berwyn theater to read (or even perform yourself) at home. Dozens of plays including “The Proxy” by Lauren Yee (“Cambodian Rock Band”), “And the World Opened Up” by Ngozi Anyanwu, “7th Street Echo” by Paige Hernandez and “Moles” by associate artist Juan Muñoz. Free with donations accepted; www.playathome.org.
About Face Theatre Co.: For Pride Month, About Face Theatre is streaming a world-premiere production of “Packing,” a solo piece by company artistic associate Scott Bradley, “charting his personal journey of self discovery as it intersects with recent queer history.” The work is directed by Chay Yew. Streaming to July 12, tickets $15; aboutfacetheatre.com
Acting for a Cause: A project by Brando Crawford in Oak Park creates staged readings of notable works via Zoom, cast with young Hollywood up-and-comers. Latest is “Twelfth Night” with Ruby Rose (“Batwoman”) and “Never Have I Ever” star Maitreyi Ramakrishnan. Also “Jane Eyre” with Natalia Dyer, “Pride and Prejudice” with Kat McNamara of the CW series “Arrow,” “Romeo and Juliet” with Margaret Qualley, “Hamlet,” with Brandon Flynn (“13 Reasons Why”) and Willa Fitzgerald (the lead on MTV’s “Scream”). Donations go in part to Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago; www.facebook.com/actingforacause
Albany Park Theater Project, the youth theater company known for site-specific works and voices you can’t hear anywhere else, has been posting video clips and full-length productions on Vimeo, such as “Home/Land” and clips from “Learning Curve” and “Ofrenda,” and “Feast”; vimeo.com/albanyparktheater
American Blues Theater’s Ripped Festival has 30 short plays to download and read that are all inspired (“ripped”) from current headlines. Including “Peace/War” by Kristoffer Diaz (“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”), “One Day” by Wandachristine, “My Son” by Larissa FastHorse, “Thin Pink Line” by ensemble member Manny Buckley, “Saint Monica of the Unemployment Help-Line” by James Still and “A Sacrifice” by CPS students Camila Bautista, Alfredo Galicia, Metzli Hernandez Villalba, Ana Lopez Alcantar, Chriz Perez and Noah Salinas; www.americanbluestheater.com.
Annoyance Theatre’s quarantine show is “Out of Touch,” created by a cast and crew of eight who holed up together in the theater on Belmont just before the Illinois shelter-in-place order first took effect in March and tasked themselves with creating a show (suggested donation $5); www.theannoyance.com/lockin. And new, the theater’s online training site has almost a dozen classes and roundtables on offer, teaching standup, puppetry and creating props without a budget. Jake Noll offers one-on-one standup instruction. Dave Maher teaches storytelling. And others (classes start at $25 per); www.theannoyance.com/classes.
ArtNight: If you have an art form and you want an excuse to do it, want to hang out (now virtually) with other young artists, want a chance to share, show off and discuss what you’ve been working on, that’s ArtNight. The project was created by Jared Hochberg and Rob Klein (and others), who had impromptu concerts in their dorm rooms and similar art night-like experiences in college and missed the experience after graduation. The first were house gatherings, now they’re online. The next is August 7, RSVP first on the website and learn more; www.theartnightchicago.com
Artemisia: The Chicago theater company dedicated to the development of new plays featuring women characters is producing a weekly series of podcasts, moderated by artistic director Julie Proudfoot. For the July 6 edition, Proudfoot interviewed Lisa Wolpe, and actor, director, writer and founder of the all-female multi-cultural Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company; http://artemisiatheatre.org/podcast
BAMtheatre has become BAM @ a Distance, a host of virtual classes: Broadway Masters (6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays) features guest artists who teach master classes and host Q&A sessions. July 13 is Matt Doyle (Broadway’s “Book of Mormon’); July 20 is Santino Fontana (Hans in the “Frozen” movies); July 27 is Eva Noblezada (”Hadestown” on Broadway); www.bamtheatre.com
Black Button Eyes Productions has something really original — it has adapted an Edgar Allan Poe story into “Masque of the Red Coronavirus,” a story you can read and scroll through on its website with a script, narrative and bits of videos created by the company’s artists remotely (intended for audiences 18+); www.blackbuttoneyes.com/masque-of-the-red-coronavirus
Chicago Children’s Theatre: Some top puppetry talents contributed to “Doll Face has a Party,” the Chicago Children’s Theatre’s latest headlining offering on its CCTv YouTube channel. The 10-minute toy theater show is directed by Brian Selznick (“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” and “The Houdini Box”) and based on the 1994 children’s book written by Pam Conrad and illustrated by Selznick. Chicago puppeteers Will Bishop and Grace Needlman designed and filmed the show in their Bridgeport apartment with actor James Lecesne voicing the characters; on CCTv. Also, Michael Shannon narrates “Frederick, A Virtual Puppet Performance,” based on the 1967 picture book by Leo Lionni about a family of field mice with that one lazy layabout member. Maybe you’ve got one around the house these days yourself; now streaming on YouTube.
“Chicago Offstage! Live At Home”: Season of Concern is a Chicago nonprofit founded as a response to AIDS in the Chicago theater and dance communities and has since expanded to provide assistance to Chicago performing artists in general. Its April fundraiser was “Chicago Offstage! Live At Home,” hosted by WGN-TV’s Ana Belaval and with a star-studded cast including Jessie Mueller, E. Faye Butler, Angela Ingersoll, Devin DeSantis and Stephen Schellhardt, James Earl Jones II, Michael Mahler, Bethany Thomas and Cory Goodrich. On Season of Concern’s YouTube channel
Chicago Tap Theatre will perform later this month at the Athenaeum Theatre with “30 Feet Together, 6 Feet Apart,” with the performance livestreamed to audiences at home. Hosted by JC Brooks with a live band, and featuring a mix of new and favorite pieces from Chicago Tap Theatre. (The company has more information about COVID-19 precautions the dancers are taking on its website.) Via Vimeo 3 p.m. July 26, tickets are pay-what-you-can; chicagotaptheatre.kindful.com
ComedySportz Chicago: The home of family-friendly improv comedy in Chicago has four different offerings, all via Zoom, including the mainstage show “ComedySportz.” Also virtual training and team building; www.cszchicago.com
Court Theatre: From the Equity theater in Hyde Park, here’s something a little different. Court Theatre is proud to present … nothing. That is, “The Liminal Space” offers a space for quiet contemplation, as the theater live-streams its empty stage, inviting the audience to share in a longstanding theater tradition of sitting quietly in an empty theater. The solitude will be broken up by a series of curated pieces that will transform the still-standing set from Court’s canceled production of “The Lady from the Sea.” The project is lead by Court director of production Jennifer Gadda; CourtTheatre.org/theliminalspace as well as the theatre’s YouTube channel. Continuing on Court’s social media space: “What’s Up? With Matthew Sitz” is the director of audience services interviewing theater members, late-nite style, including Aeriel Williams, Kelvin Roston, Jr., Chaon Cross, Kate Collins, designer Arnel Sancianco, Ron OJ Parson and others. In “Court Context,” artistic director Charles Newell talks about big productions in Court’s history, including “Oedipus Rex,” “Adventures of Augie March,” “Native Son,” “All My Sons” and “Caroline, or Change”; www.facebook.com/CourtTheatre
Deeply Rooted Dance Theater has launched “Beyond Dance,” as announced by artistic director Nicole Clarke-Springer. Virtual classes for the Youth Ensemble; Mature H.O.T. Women. Beyond Dance Continuum Process is a series of virtual guided discussions on self-awareness and growth. All free with donations accepted at deeplyrooteddancetheater.org
Goodman Theatre has its 2016 production of “2666,” adapted and directed by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley from Roberto Bolaño’s novel, free to stream; www.goodmantheatre.org/watch2666. And “Intermission” is both a fundraising campaign for the Goodman and a chance to stay connected through video clips and other content; www.goodmantheatre.org/Intermission. See also “Stateville Voices,” below.
Hell in a Handbag: The Chicago masters of camp parody have generously offered up a video of the 2012 musical “Sexy Baby”; find it on YouTube and at www.facebook.com/HandbagChicago. Next up is “The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 4 – Lockdown!,” written by artistic director David Cerda and directed by Spenser Davis. The geriatric Fab Four and their whacky friends and relatives return for this world-premiere episode set to stream on Vimeo June 25 to August 15. Tickets ($20) are currently available at stage773.com and handbagproductions.org.
“The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral”: The Neo-Futurists have adapted their mainstage show as created by ensemble members for the Patreon platform ($3 per show). Viewers can choose the order of the show, just like at the traditional “Infinite Wrench,” and also help support the theater. Go to www.patreon.com/theneofuturists. And 8 p.m. June 25 is “The Infinite Wrench Gets Prideful: 30 Queer Plays in 60 Straight Minutes,” livestreamed on the Twitch platform to benefit Brave Space Alliance; neofuturists.org.
Joffrey Ballet is revisiting some of its most notable recent productions and talking about the thinking behind the show and what it was like to dance the roles. Including “Anna Karenina,” the Joffrey’s world premiere ballet and Yuri Possokhov’s historic reimagining of Leo Tolstoy. Dancer Victoria Jaiani shares what it was like to dance the role of Anna; youtube.com/user/TheJoffreyBallet
Lookingglass Theatre Company has launched a lineup of free digital programming by company members. The “Infinite Room” podcast (lookingglasstheatre.org/the-infinite-room-podcast) begins with an episode focusing on the recent play “Her Honor Jane Byrne.” “Through the Lookingglass” offers clips that Lookingglass ensemble members have filmed at home. For “gglassclasses,” students K-12th grade can learn theater from Lookingglass artists. And “Lookingglass Live” is a free, weekly, 15-minute workshop with rotating subjects; 12 p.m. Tuesdays, both at www.facebook.com/lookingglasstheatre
Lucky Plush Dance: Chicago dance company Lucky Plush Productions is teaching online classes in collaboration with the University of Chicago’s dance program. The Lucky Plush Virtual Dance Lab includes courses in dance, yoga, improvisation and physical theater; classes are taught live via Zoom by Lucky Plush ensemble members including Kara Brody, Michel Rodriguez Cintra, Jacinda Ratcliffe, A. Raheim White and Meghann Wilkinson (suggested contribution of $5 to $15); www.luckyplush.com/virtual-dance-lab
Lyric Opera of Chicago will present the virtual event “Lawrence Brownlee and Friends: The Next Chapter.” The concert will be hosted by tenor Lawrence Brownlee, and feature soprano Whitney Morrison, mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, and baritone Will Liverman. Plus tenors Martin Luther Clark and Lunga Eric Hallam, and baritone Leroy Davis. Accompanied by Craig Terry, the music director of the Ryan Opera Center, and Chris Reynolds, current ensemble pianist. The free, 75-minute virtual Ryan Opera Center concert will stream live on Lyric’s YouTube and Facebook channels; more at www.lyricopera.org/lawrence-brownlee-and-friends
Magic Parlour at Home: Chicago magician Dennis Watkins’ long-running solo show at the Palmer House Hilton, then via Facebook, has now been adapted into “The Magic Parlour at Home,” new virtual magic show designed for group and family viewings with performances Fridays and Saturdays in July. A maximum of 30 tickets will be sold for each performance; via Zoom. You’ll need a computer with a camera and microphone to participate, and can expect interactive magic and mind-reading right on your screen. Recommended for adult audiences though guests ages 12 and up can join in. Wear cocktail attire and bring your own deck of cards. In July, most Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., tickets $75; themagicparlourchicago.com
“Magic by Telephone”: Not a video stream, illusionist Jeanette Andrews going an entirely different route. Call in by phone and her voice will guide you through tricks you can play on yourself; call 855-296-2442.
Manuel Cinema: With video already so much a part of its medium, the folks at Manuel Cinema have long had video samples of their work available for viewing. Later this month, the company founded by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller and Kyle Vegter, will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a four-week virtual festival. “Retrospectacular!” will bring back four of the company’s shows from the past 10 years, including “Lula Del Ray” (screening July 27 to Aug. 3), “The End of TV” (Aug. 3-10), “No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks” (Aug. 10-17) and “Frankenstein” (Aug. 17-23); at manualcinema.com/watch. Or check out the company’s trailer for the upcoming “Candyman,” a short film in itself; manualcinema.com
Millennium Park at Home: As a sort-of stand-in for would would have been another lively summer in Millennium Park, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is programming virtual events on YouTube (youtube.com/ChicagoDCASE) and Facebook (@MillenniumParkChicago). Series includes Gospel Music Festival May and Blues Fest.
Otherworld Theatre: The storefront devoted to science fiction and fantasy has a half-dozen online offerings on YouTube, Facebook and the Patreon platform, from past shows to weekly improv. Plus July 10-12 is the free “GenreThon! An Online Celebration of Nerdom In Comedy” with headliners including Improvised Jane Austen; www.otherworldtheatre.org
Porchlight Music Theatre: Stephen Sondheim in his 90th birthday year is the subject of the new, free virtual series “Sondheim @ 90 Roundtable” with host artistic director Michael Weber, with talents from Chicago and Broadway stages. Each will focus on a different title, debut is “West Side Story”; www.facebook.com/PorchlightMusicTheatre. Plus coming in August will be PorchlightPalooza, the theater’s fundraising festival Aug. 21-23.
Second City: Chicago’s famed comedy theater introduces “Improv House Party,” a new occasional online comedy show on Zoom with the audience able to chime in with suggestions, described as “comedy from the discomfort of your own home” Free with donations accepted; www.secondcity.com. Also, can you teach funny remotely? There’s plenty of options to try through the Training Center Online; check out the menu at www.secondcity.com/Online-classes.
Sideshow Theatre Co.: The 2016 hit production “The Happiest Place on Earth,” written and performed by Philip Dawkins and directed by Sideshow artistic director Jonathan L. Green, is available to stream. Dawkins’ autobiographical work is about the women in his family after the death of their father and debuted as part of the Solo Celebration series at Greenhouse Theater Center. Tickets are pay-what-you-can for access to the video; through July 15; sideshowtheatre.org/stream
Silk Road Rising has five full video plays of various lengths on its website, creations that blend filmmaking and live plays, all free. “Obstacle Course” is written by Jamil Khoury, directed by Dale Heinen (2019, 43 minutes). Set in Naperville, about a proposed Islamic Community Center. “The Imam and the Homosexual” is about unlikely political bedfellows (2012, 16 minutes). Both were adapted from Khoury’s stage play “Mosque Alert.” The comedy “Multi Meets Poly: Multiculturalism and Polyculturalism Go on a First Date” is written by Khoury, directed by A. George Bajalia (2015, 34 minutes). “The Balancing Arab,” written by Khoury, directed by Anne Jacques (2012, 15 minutes) is set in a Chicago gym and is an exchange between a politically active Arab American, and her Irish American trainer. And “both/and” is Khoury’s semi-autobiographical work (2011, 12 minutes); www.silkroadrising.org
“Stateville Voices”: The Goodman Theatre series presents three online performances July 3. The virtual premiere will feature three new short plays, all written by inmates at Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum security state prison for men in Crest Hill. All are directed by Sydney Chatman and were written during a spring 2019 playwriting course taught by playwright and Goodman artistic associate Rebecca Gilman. Casts include Briohna Booker, Nicole Bush, David Dowd, Gabriel Matthews, Johnathon Matthews and Ginneh Thomas. The three plays in the festival are “Parameters of Closeness” by André Patterson; “Ain’t Nothing Like Quality Time” by Taurean Decatur; and “Comic Books and Candy” by Antonio McDowell. Performances are free and live-streamed on Facebook, YouTube and GoodmanTheatre.org/Stateville
Steppenwolf Theatre has “Half Hour: A Steppenwolf Theatre Podcast” hosted by ensemble members Audrey Francis, Caroline Neff, Cliff Chamberlain and Glenn Davis; www.steppenwolf.org
“SummerDance in Place” is a new at-home version of the summertime tradition, Chicago SummerDance. Presented by DCASE with the Chicago Park District, the reimagined series is filmed in Millennium Park and at Chicago Park district locations, featuring skyline views and imagery you’ve been missing. Chicagoans are encouraged to plan their own dance parties in their homes and backyards and connect via the broadcast or social media. Following the SummerDance model, each program will start with a 30-minute dance lesson, followed by 60 minutes of music performed by local artists. Dance and music styles include House, salsa, swing, Bollywood and more every Wednesday in July at 5:30 p.m; youtube.com/ChicagoDCASE or visit ChicagoSummerDance.org.
“That’s Weird, Grandma”: PlayMakers Laboratory is taking its signature revue, now in its 19th year, online with a line-up of stories written by elementary school students, adapted and performed by professional actors and directed by artistic director Brandon Cloyd. Streaming via Patreon, with a new show released every Monday at 8 p.m.; tickets ($2-$4) at playmakerslab.org.
Theatre Y has its first digital content with a series titled “My Body’s Image, Delayed.” The video performances (there will be 15 in all) are described as retrospectives of András Visky texts and an “ongoing response to the isolation and silence of the current pandemic.” Visky was a playwright persecuted by communist dictatorships of Romania; Theatre Y was originally formed 15 years ago as a means of producing his work. “My Body’s Image” will be posted in installments at 7 p.m. Fridays; www.theatre-y.com
Victory Gardens Theater currently is offering two Soundcloud audio recordings of plays is helped create in the 1990s with LA Theatre Works. “Still Waters” by Claudia Allen about a female, small-town minister during World War II; “Drowning Sorrows” by Douglas Post is set in the Virgin Island and described as “a psychological puzzler.” Also the Your World Off Stage Conversation Series; victorygardens.org.
“WAR OF THE WELL(e)S”: A collaboration by A Red Orchid Theatre and Porchlight Music Theatre, an audio drama adaptation of the stage play written by Michael Weber and directed by Lawrence Grimm. “WAR OF THE WELL(e)S” is audio drama adaptation of Weber’s stage play telling the behind-the-scenes story of Orson Welles’ historic 1938 recording of the H.G. Wells novel “The War of the Worlds.” Available via audio link through July 31, pay-what-you-can tickets at www.aredorchidtheatre.org
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