No question about it: “Cabin fever” has taken on a whole new meaning these days. Happily, Chicago’s shuttered arts and entertainment institutions have stepped up their online presence to keep hearts and minds engaged. Here’s a sample of some online options to satisfy your culture fix from home.
One of the city’s liveliest venues, the Auditorium Theatre, is reaching out to audiences with a variety of online content available on multiple platforms. On Sundays at 6 p.m. there’s music and dance programming on Facebook Live. Every Wednesday at noon, the theater offers #AudTalk, a video version of the Auditorium’s podcast, showcasing the companies that have graced its stage. And you can brush up on the theater’s rich history at #ThisDayattheAud. For updates on programming, visit theaud.us/keepingup.
Back in 2016, the Goodman Theatre mounted a stage version of Roberto Bolano’s epic novel (800 pages plus) “2666,” a grim but compelling multilayered story that began with the insular world of a group of intellectuals and traveled to a violent Mexican landscape. The production clocked in at five and a half hours, which gave even the most enthusiastic theatergoers pause. But taking it in from the comfort of your home? Why not? Check it out at goodmantheatre.org/watch2666.
Last fall at the Magic Lounge, Canadian magician Carisa Hendrix beguiled audiences with her magic/comedy mash-up “Indulgence With Lucy Darling.” Sporting Tootsie Pop red hair and dress slit up to here — and a delivery somewhere between Marilyn Monroe and “Gilligan Island’s” Mrs. Howell — Hendrix reeled folks in with a wonderful-to-meet-you persona and a menu of illusions whipped up with a cocktail shaker in hand. Catch it now at carisahendrix.com/indulgence.
The next best thing to an actual visit to the Art Institute of Chicago is accessing the extensive videos at youtube.com/user/ArtInstituteChicago. The offerings range from one-camera recordings of lectures to handsomely produced clips pegged to specific artists (Manet, Warhol, and more), eye-opening bits on the art and science of conservation, and a wonderful array of pieces on architecture and design.
Need just a quick break from your keyboard and the kids? Visit mcachicago.org/Publications/Video/2020/Duro-Olowu-Seeing-Chicago to hear Duro Olowu talk about art and inspiration. The Nigerian-born British designer, who curated the “Seeing Chicago” show at the Museum of Contemporary Art (a lively mix of photography, film, painting, and sculpture), will clear your head with his direct, unfussy philosophy for appreciating the beautiful and the banal.
Marriott Theatre’s “Kiss Me Kate” is just one of the many, many shows that have gone dark in Chicagoland, but cast members are reaching out to audiences with greetings and good wishes on their YouTube channel. Dancer Kyra Soirce lets viewers in on her workout routine (in her kitchen), Trevor Vanderzee and James T. Lane sing a song, and Joe Bigelow isn’t too shy to share his current time-killing pastime — knitting socks!
The old improv rule of thumb is to think in terms of “Yes, and …” That’s to say, support a scene, no matter the cost. Turns out, the same goes for real life, as the Second City keeps the show going during this time from Zoom. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 7 p.m., catch “Improv House Party,” where the Second City talent and alumni get riotous from their own homes, performing free, live improv shows with participation from the online audience. On Tuesdays, “Improv House Party” dials in the ladies with “Girls Night In,” hosted by Carisa Barreca, and featuring a rotating cast members of “She the People” and special guests. Featuring classic “Girls’ Night” games and improv inspired by your suggestions, this is comedy by women — for everyone. Each Saturday, director Anneliese Toft and musical director Jesse Case assemble host Cody Dove with performers Mark Campbell, E.J. Cameron, E.R. Fightmaster, Frank Caeti, and Jaime Moyer for a string of interactive impromptu skits and games. The events are streamed for free. Donations are accepted to the Second City Alumni Fund, a resource for performers and other members of the Second City community experiencing critical health and financial challenges. Register at secondcity.com/chicago-shows.
Installation view, Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, 2020. Photo: Kendall McCaugherty.