Celebrate Black filmmakers
The Gene Siskel Film Center presents the 26th annual Black Harvest Film Festival online Nov. 6-30. The Midwest’s largest- and longest-running festival that tells the stories and explores the images, heritage and history of the Black experience presents Chicago premieres, features, documentaries and shorts; filmmaker appearances; workshops; panel discussions, and special events. Among the films are Casmir Nozkowski’s “The Outside Story,” Ashley O’Shay’s “Unapologetic” and Detdrich McClure’s “Brown Paper Bag.” The festival closes with a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman (“Black Panther”) and a screening of his 2012 film “The Killing Hole,” directed by Mischa Webley. Tickets: $10, festival passes $50 (seven features or short programs), $100 (all-festival pass). Visit siskelfilmcenter.org/BHFF2020.
Musical theater’s future
Porchlight Music Theatre’s latest edition of “New Faces Sing Broadway” features tunes from musicals staged in 1987, including “Les Miserables,” “Into the Woods,” “Me and My Girl” and more. Performing are Anna Marie Abbate, Isabella Andrews, Ciera Dawn, Taylor DiTola, Tim Foszcz, Cameron Goode, Garrett Griffin, Parker Guidry, De’Jah Jervai and Kelan M. Smith. The show, filmed at the Studebaker Theatre, streams from Nov. 6-29. Tickets: $25-$50. Visit porchlightmusictheatre.org.
Art & social issues
The creations of more than 70 Chicago artists are featured in “The Long Dream,” an exhibition that examines the current issues raised by the pandemic and social unrest. Named after a novel by Richard Wright, it explores the importance of bringing art and artists to the forefront of social issues facing Chicago and the world. The work of both emerging and established artists is included. A live arts event takes place online on the exhibit’s closing weekend. From Nov. 7-Jan. 21 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago. Tickets: $8, $15, advance tickets required. Visit mcachicago.org.
Inspired by stories
“Eighth Blackbird Presents: The Chicago Artists Workshop” continues with Rebecca Rego in a concert featuring songs inspired by Lucia Berlin’s acclaimed short story collection, “A Manual for Cleaning Women.” Berlin’s dark and witty prose seeped into Rego and a new set of songs was born — “Songs for Cleaning Women,” produced by Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie) and due out on Nov. 11. Rego’s goal is to pay homage to Berlin, who died in 2004, and to introduce her work to new audiences. Includes readings from Berlin’s stories by actress Leah Casey. The limited in-person concert (4045 N. Rockwell) and livestream are at 7 p.m. Nov. 11. Tickets: $20. Visit eighthblackbird.org.
Virtual series begins
Beginning Nov. 11, Steppenwolf Theatre presents the streaming world premiere of James Ijames “What Is Left, Burns,” a drama about two poets, separated by age and distance, who engage in a video call rendezvous after fifteen years. Ensemble members K. Todd Freeman and Jon Michael Hill star; Whitney White directs. Virtual memberships ($75) include access to all six upcoming streamed productions including plays by Isaac Gomez, Rajiv Joseph, Vivian J.O. Barnes, Donnetta Lavinia Grays and Sam Shepard. Visit steppenwolf.org/now.
As the holiday season gets underway, get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a seasonal classic with the Joffrey Ballet’s “Pulling Back the Curtain: The Nutcracker,” a virtual event featuring interviews with Joffrey dancers and members of the artistic team plus a few surprises. Streams at 3 p.m. Nov. 7. Tickets start at $25. Visit joffrey.org. ... Cerque Rivera Dance Theatre presents its fall season featuring “Identity City,” “Mood Swing” and reworked segments of “American Catracho” and “Root.” Streams Nov. 5-7. Tickets: $30-$50. Visit cerquarivera.org. ... The Dance Center of Columbia College livestreams tap dancer Jumaane Taylor’s “Ugly Flavors” featuring the music of Ornette Coleman and Igor Stravinsky. Streams at 7 p.m. Nov. 7. Tickets: $20. Visit dance.colum.edu/events.
Passion for poetry
Margaret Atwood is best known for her many novels, including “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the “MaddAddam” trilogy, but her career began with poetry. Now she returns to that form with her first collection of poems in more than ten years. Atwood discusses her new work and the role of writing in helping us to understand the past and prepare for the future in a conversation and Q&A with Chicago Humanities Festival artistic director Alison Cuddy. Join the Stream at 6 p.m. Nov. 8. Tickets: $33, includes a copy of the book. Visit chicagohumanities.org.
Best of the best
The theater season may have been cut short in March with the onset of the Covid-19 crisis but nevertheless there were plenty of stellar productions to fill the nominee list for the 2020 Jeff Awards. Now it’s time to dust off your tux and cocktail dress and join in the festivities when actress-singer Michelle Lauto hosts the annual event celebrating achievement in Chicago theater via a free livestream at 7 p.m. Nov. 9. For more information, visit jeffawards.org.
Mary Houlihan is a Chicago freelance writer.