Pictured above: Promotional photo for Corey Smith’s Essay on the Emil Bach House/Photo: Drew Angle
Editor’s Note: If you would like to be featured in future Scapi upcoming monthly productions lists, please email and/or add DIY Theater and Performance Editor Danielle Levsky at firstname.lastname@example.org to your distribution list and send along the accessibility options that are available in your theatrical or performance art show. You must have performance ticket options available for $20 or less in order to be included in the list, for pay accessibility purposes.
Our DIY theater and performance recommendations for the month of February:
- Curious Theatre Branch and Prop Thtr, 3502 North Elston Ave
- The 30th annual Rhinoceros Theater Festival (Rhinofest) includes six weeks of new plays, dance, devised works, variety shows, comedy, live podcasting, fresh takes on classic texts, and more.
- In February, you can catch Bicycle Thieves, Pro Memoria: Two Dark Plays, Mystical Transformations, Cabaret Prop’d, Café: A Meditation, What About Chicago?! Live, Bi-Polar Bitch, I Hate Mondays: Rhino Fest Performance Series, Infinity Burns, How to Pick a Lock, Underworld Anthem, Pestilence WOW!, and more.
- This festival runs through February 24.
- Otherworld Theatre Company, 3914 North Clark Street
- Hero’s Journey is an original long form, improvised adventure that blends comedy with the teachings of Joseph Campbell. Created by Second City and Harold Ramis Film School student, Matt Haas, Hero’s Journey blends academic assessments of storytelling, with a dynamite cast of adventurous comedians.
- This performance runs through March 1.
ECLIPSING: death and transformation
- ECLIPSING, Amina Ross, and Links Hall, 3111 North Western Avenue
- ECLIPSING is a performance festival highlighting a variety of artists and healers who have found inspiration and strength in their own definitions of darkness. In dealing with the dark these artists, performers, musicians, and healers dissect power. ECLIPSING creates space for LGBTQIA+ artists and performers, namely trans & queer people of color, to cross boundaries between mediums, mobilize darkness within their works, and harness darkness’s metaphorical and metaphysical qualities.
- This festival opens on February 1.
Girl in the Red Corner
- Broken Nose Theatre at The Den Theatre, 1331 Nort Milwaukee Avenue
- Unemployed and fresh from an abusive marriage, Halo steps into a gym one day and signs up for mixed martial arts lessons. Her family thinks it’s ridiculous. Her trainer thinks she’s soft. But none of them know the anger that fuels her ambition. When it’s rage that brought you into the cage, are you really ready to see what winning looks like? Winner of the Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play, Girl in the Red Corner is a visceral, fast-moving tale of self-discovery, one that allows women to take centerstage in a world so often dominated by men.
- This performance opens on February 3.
- One Year Chekhov at Hideout Inn, 1354 West Wabansia Avenue
- Uncle Vanya: Since 2012 OYC has performed the major plays of Anton Chekhov, one play throughout each year, with a rotating cast and a unique rehearsal process. We invite the actors and audience together in a communal setting where we strive to generate accessibility to one of theater’s most celebrated playwrights. Come laugh, cry, drink, burp and watch us get weird!
- This performance occurs on February 5
Breaking Ground Festival
- Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 North Lincoln Avenue
- The Greenhouse Theater Center celebrates Chicago Theatre Week with its Breaking Ground Fest, an eclectic line-up of performances including live music, plays, staged readings, improv, comedy, burlesque and more. The festival includes including Goddess, She’s Folks, I’m Falling in Love All the Time, and PS… Burlesque.
- This festival opens on February 7.
Dead Man’s Cell Phone
- The Comrades at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 North Lincoln Avenue
- An incessantly ringing cell phone in a quiet café. A stranger at the next table who has had enough. And a dead man – with a lot of loose ends. So begins Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone, a wildly imaginative comedy about how we memorialize the dead – and how that remembering changes us – it is the odyssey of a woman forced to confront her own assumptions about morality, redemption, and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world.
- This performance opens on February 7.
How I Learned to Drive
- Raven Theatre’s 99-seat East Stage, 6157 North Clark Street
- Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned To Drive is set in rural Maryland, 1960s. From behind the wheel of a Chevy ’56, a woman named Li’l Bit navigates the tangled boulevards of her adolescence, reflecting on her complex and troubling relationship with her family. But old secrets and fresh discoveries abound as she struggles to accept her past and the demons that live there.
- This performance opens on February 7.
Young Lungs: A Night of Original Performance
- Wild Atlas Theatre Co and The Martin, 2515 West North Avenue
- Young Lungs: A Night of Original Performance is an ongoing exploration of original work from Chicago artists, creating a space for them to throw spaghetti against a wall and see what sticks. Join us for an evening of performances themed around the prompt: “How do you play?”
- This variety show occurs on February 8.
- UIC Studio Theatre, 1044 West Harrison Street
- Afterlife is a movement/dance piece David Hernandez choreographed and directed, inspired by songs by the rock band Arcade Fire. It tells the story of a man who seeks forgiveness of his loved ones. But what does forgiveness look like when it’s all taken away from you?
- This performance occurs on February 9 and February 10.
Aunt Nance Defends her CLLAW Title
- The Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLLAW) at Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 North Kedzie Boulevard
- CLLAW’s 32nd match will feature Chicago’s biggest, baddest lady-identified arm wrestlers and live musical entertainment, and will benefit Sideshow Theatre Company and GirlForward.
- This event occurs on February 9.
Essay on the Emil Bach House
- Corey Smith Performance Art at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Emil Bach House, 7415 North Sheridan Road
- Part poetic architecture tour, part immersive theater, part musical performance, Essay on the Emil Bach House leads audiences through the Emil Bach House, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Rogers Park owned by TAWANI Enterprises. Boldly unconventional, the performance dissects Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas of organic architecture with humor, theatrical experimentation, and an original musical score, performed by musicians staged throughout the house. Essay on the Emil Bach House tells the story of the house, the architect, the neighborhood, and the region that holds them. This intimate, strange, and beautiful performance is a reclaiming of Midwestern radicalism, a love song to the buildings and the people of flyover country, and a chance to experience a Wright house in an entirely new light.
- This performance opens on February 9.
The Bone Harp
- Underscore Theatre Company at The Edge Theater, 5451 North Broadway Street
- The Bone Harp: Jenny and Jessa are outsiders, living on the outskirts of town with their father, the village gravedigger. Since their mother ran away two years ago, they’ve found companionship in the Boneyard, a ghostly realm they can only enter together, populated with the spirits of the town’s former inhabitants. When a new spirit appears in the Boneyard, the girls must question everything they thought they knew about their family, and decide which world they want to live (or die) in.
- This reading will take place on February 11.
Requiem for a Heavyweight
- The Artistic Home, 1369 West Grand Avenue
- Requiem for a Heavyweight, a drama of a punch-drunk fighter long past his prime, was originally written as a play, but first became a landmark live television drama of the “golden age” starring Jack Palance.
- This performance opens February 13.
The Soccer Player in the Closet
- Nothing Without A Company at Christy Webber Farm and Garden, 2833 West Chicago Avenue
- Written by Ryan Oliveira, The Soccer Player in the Closet tells the story of Cristiano, a top-ranked online soccer player who hasn’t left his apartment in years. When he finally departs, his friends gather to clean up and set his memory free. They uncover painful secrets about themselves and Cristiano – and how difficult it is to get someone to move on. The play is in English with pockets of Spanish and Portuguese. English speaking audiences will be able to understand the other two languages based on the tone, rhythm, acting, and context. The Soccer Player in the Closet is meant to both challenge and immerse audiences through the multiple languages living in the play.
- This performance opens on February 14.
A Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds
- The Theatre School at DePaul University, In the Watts, 2350 North Racine Avenue
- dyb·buk – noun (in Jewish folklore) a malevolent wandering spirit that enters and posseses the body of a living person until exorcized. When a young Hasid named Chonen uses dark spiritual forces to thwart the wedding plans of his true love Leah, her body becomes possessed. Jewish law and spiritual law are at odds in this Kabbalistic ghost story that tackles the meaning of death.
- This performance opens on February 15.
Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
- Promethean Theatre Ensemble at Strawdog Theatre, 1809 West Berenice Street
- Promethean’s critically-acclaimed production of Moisés Kaufman’s historical drama Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, which enjoyed a two-week run in December 2016, will be remounted.
- This performance opens February 15.
Mike Pence Sex Dream
- First Floor Theater at The Den Theatre (2B), 1331 North Milwaukee Avenue
- Mike Pence Sex Dream opens in the aftermath of Trump’s election, newlyweds Gary and Ben have to keep each other sane and solvent. But as the country’s political landscape drives Ben to his breaking point, Gary changes too–in ways that he has to keep secret from his husband. Gary can’t tell Ben about the nightly seductions of a certain phantasmagorical fascist. And he definitely can’t tell Ben that in the process of bringing home the bacon, he’s fallen in love with a pig. From the recent past to our imminent dystopia, Mike Pence Sex Dream is a romantic travesty exploring the depths to which one man’s self-loathing can drag him.
- This performance opens February 16.
- The Cuckoo’s Theater Project at The Den Theatre, 1331 North Milwaukee Avenue
- Missed Opportunities: Max is living the typical millennial life. She lives in the city in a tiny apartment with her gay roommate, Adam. She has a blog. But, she gets paid to write the blog so that makes it better than a normal blog. But she still has to have a day job because the cost of living is skyrocketing. Anyway, one day she’s in her favorite coffee shop when she runs into Nate. We all have a Nate. Nate is the relationship that almost happened, and leaves you wondering “what if?” well into your old age. Turns out, Nate thought Max was gay. Because she wears flannel. And likes hockey. And goes by Max. You know, things that are only allowed to raging lesbians. She even gets set up with Nate’s roommate, Jenna. But Jenna has a plan. She just got out of a serious relationship (don’t ask her about it) and wants to be alone. So, she’s going to be Max’s reverse beard! They’ll pretend to date, Nate will get to know Max better and fall madly in love with her, Jenna gets to be single, and Adam gets to eats a lot of popcorn. It’s foolproof! Right?
- This performance runs through February 16.
Trapped in Elon’s Mansion
- Runaways Lab Theatre at The Crowd Theater, 3935 North Broadway Street
- Fresh off a sold-out run in Montreal, Azealia Banks & Grimes are Trapped in Elon’s Mansion. Join the Runaways Lab for the U.S. debut of Joe Bagel’s scandalous cyber-comedy. You will clap. You will scream. It’s a “disgusting zoo of squalid villains!” and it’s not to be missed.
- This performance occurs on February 23.
It’s Not ALL About You John Michael
- John Michael at Mary’s Attic, 5400 North Clark Street (above Hamburger Mary’s),
- It’s Not ALL About You John Michael invites you to the 2019 John Michael convention with one hope and goal in mind: to stop doing the things we don’t want to do. (Other people call those things mistakes). John Michael’s imaginative, playful, irreverent, immersive show asks you to imagine what it’s like to be John Michael… who is imagining what it’s like to be you. This communal journey into empathy explores how to be true to what we love about ourselves while also celebrating those we care about. Can he/you do it? Only with your help/the help of other John Michaels.
- This performance occurs on February 25 and March 1.
- Jackalope Theatre, 1106 West Thorndale Avenue
- Dutch Masters: New York City, 1992. Summer. In NYC’s hazy pre-Giuliani, pre-cellphone, pre-Metrocard days, two young men meet in a chance encounter on an uptown D train, chatting hoops, hip-hop, and history. Over the course of one afternoon, fear, guilt, and longing allow one young man to take the other to a place neither even imagined possible.
- This performance opens February 26.
BirdCoin; or the One Where They Learn To Respect Women
- Laughing Stock Theatre at Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, 3905 North Lincoln Avenue
- In BirdCoin, come see the familiar characters of the commedia dell’arte in this hilarious, improvised show. Come to Ms. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro upstairs and have a good laugh and maybe a cry.
- This performance occurs on February 27.
The Shit Hole
- The Shit Hole is a moving variety show that showcases 25-30 constantly changing performers at each of the productions, each doing 4-minute sets. If sensitive content is included in a set, the performers provide a trigger warning before their set. Because the show moves around to different locations, wheelchair accessibility is not guaranteed.
- There are typically one to three shows per week. Message email@example.com for details.
Key to our Symbols for Accessibility:
Closed Captioning (CC)
Opened Captioning (OC)
Assistive Listening Systems
Sign Language Interpretation
Accessible Print (18 pt. or Larger)
Pay Accessible – Pay What You Can/No One Turned Away For Lack of Funds
Pay Accessible – Free Tickets Available
Pay Accessible – Discounted Pricing (Student, Industry, Senior, etc.)
Danielle Levsky (she/her/hers) is the Theater Editor of Scapi Magazine. She is a feminist, Jew, poet, essayist, performance artist, and instructional designer. In addition to her work at Scapi, she has covered community news, arts reviews, lifestyle editorials, and cultural events for several publications. Between February 2018-2019, she completed a fellowship where she wrote a collection of community-engaged essays about her identity and heritage. She also writes typewriter poems on demand with Poems While You Wait. Follow her on her poetry Instagram to read some works in progress.