Shedd Aquarium Plans to Safely Reopen to the Public on January 27

Following the announcement from Governor Pritzker on January 18 concerning Chicago’s shift to Tier 2 COVID-19 mitigation standards, Shedd Aquarium announced that it is prepared to safely reopen to its members on Wednesday, January 27. Members will enjoy three full days of exclusive access before the aquarium reopens to the general public on Saturday, January 30.

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Surreality: Preview of “The Long Dream” at MCA

Equal parts farce and harsh reality, the year 2020 has been something of a surreal moment for most of us. Few, if any, can boast of lives untouched by the events that have thrown our nation, nee world, into flux these past eight or night months. On our hands, we’ve got a worldwide pandemic which has amassed millions of victims worldwide and killed more than 200,000 (and still counting) in the U.S. alone; public unrest has mounted quickly over what is seen as unjust, state-absolved killings of unarmed African-Americans at the hands of police; shutdowns from coast to coast that have upended any sense of normalcy for most households; pulsing upticks in white-nationalism have taken place in the public square; and on top of all of that, we’ve got a contentious presidential election on our hands.

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Summer Festivals Adapt to New Normal Amid Pandemic Shutdowns

Of the many things Chicago does well—some of the most popular annual events, beloved by Chicagoans and visitors alike—are neighborhood art fairs. Taking over blocks and blocks of business districts in the city and suburbs, these festivals of visual art and artists are fantastic ways to celebrate summer, neighborhoods and Chicagoland, all in one fell swoop.

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Victory Gardens Theatre Announces Lineup for Now Virtual 2020 Ignition Festival

Victory Gardens Theater has announced the lineup for the 2020 IGNITION Festival of New Plays, including Black Like Me by Monty Cole, North Star by Georgette Kelly, Last Hermanos by Exal Iraheta, and Pivot by Alex Lubischer. The annual festival of new plays, now online for Summer 2020, will run from mid-June to mid-July with free readings of four new plays from Chicago playwrights on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. Each reading will be followed by a “Coffee with the Creators” chat at noon the following day.

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Red Clay Dance Launches Dance Pamoja Challenge in Response to COVID-19

Red Clay Dance Company (RCDC), a nonprofit dance company that creates and performs a diverse repertoire of Afro-contemporary dance, is stepping up in the fight against the threat of COVID-19 in its community with the Dance Pamoja Challenge, a 12-month project beginning June 1 that focuses on controlling blood pressure, building resilience, and preventing death from COVID-19 among African-American families living on Chicago’s South Side.

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Neo-Futurist Production Sets Model for Post Pandemic Theater Creation

Chicago prepares for its next phase of recovery without a firm date for resuming indoor performing arts events, The Neo-Futurist Theater has pioneered a new model of operation. Rather than sharing content from past productions, the company has moved its flagship show The Infinite Wrench to a digital platform, now called The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral, presenting 30 digital plays in 60 minutes each week. The Neo-Futurist ensemble of writer-performers continue to work from home and produce new plays weekly, which are then filmed and shared with patrons who subscribe via the Patreon platform.  

Since its launch in late March, the new digital theater-making model has proven successful, with The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral currently bringing in 50% of the production’s pre-COVID-19 revenue. The production has more than 650 weekly subscribers from Chicago and across the country, significantly more patrons than The Neo-Futurists’ 147-seat theater can normally accommodate over a performance weekend. As a result of the success of this digital theater platform, The Neo-Futurists’ ensemble members, contracted artists and staff continue to receive payment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are overjoyed by the response thus far, and thrilled to be sharing our uniquely personal, non-illusory theater with a broader audience,” said Artistic Director Kirsten Riiber. “For 31 years, The Neo-Futurists have provided a space for audiences to come together and see their experience reflected to them with honesty; and this is one of those times where staying present with our audiences, who we’ve never been able to do our work without, is vital. We chose the low price point to make our work as inclusive as possible. Accessibility is central to our mission and we know many people are struggling financially right now.”

The Neo-Futurists are the creators of Chicago’s longest-running late night show and normally perform live 50 weeks per year. For The Infinite Wrench Goes Viral, the Neo-Futurist ensemble continues to produce personal, of-the-moment content that speaks to the performers’ lives in isolation and other current events. Recent digital plays span from the humorous to the insightful, and have included topics such as murder hornets, singing from balconies, penguins exploring new environments, socially distanced Olympic training, and early retirement.

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Mercury Theatre Mounts Online Video Series, “Backstage Stories”

L. Walter Stearns, executive director of Mercury Theater Chicago, recently announced an ongoing lineup of three video series featuring past and present Mercury talent, to include actors, musicians and members of several creative teams. The three series of videos will be entitled “Backstage Stories,” “On the Air with Mercury Theater Chicago,” and “On the Road to Priscilla,” and will be posted on an ongoing basis on the theater’s social media pages. The theater will also be coordinating a city-wide initiative video entitled “Stay Home Chicago” in response to the stay-at-home orders following the COVID-19 crisis, featuring performers from previous Mercury Theater Chicago productions.

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Chicago Children’s Theatre Launches At-Home Initiative with Hope-Affirming Window Installation

Artists have transformed Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave. in the West Loop, into a bright new beacon of hope.
Stroll by the former Chicago police station at Monroe and Racine any evening and you’ll see a gorgeous new window installation that changes the colors of the rainbow around the life-affirming message “Everything will be okay.”

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