The Mix: Fillet of Solo, ‘Fanciful Fish,’ Orion Ensemble and other things to do in Chicago Feb. 4-10
There’s much entertainment, live and virtual, on tap in Chicago in the week ahead.
Fish on parade
Enjoy the fresh winter air and take in Greektown Chicago’s outdoor sculpture exhibit “Fanciful Fish,” on display through April on Halsted from Monroe to Van Buren. The sculptures, created by a diverse group of Chicago artists, celebrate Greek culture from mythological gods and seaside vistas to the Greek language. Children can also download a coloring sheet to create their own colorful fish. Visit greektownchicago.org.
Theater meets science
Many theatergoers know playwright Lauren Gunderson as the co-author with Margot Melcon of the Northlight Theatre hits “Miss Bennett: Christmas at Pemberley” and “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley.” which delightfully expanded the world of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” But the prolific Gunderson (the most produced playwright in the country, according to American Theatre magazine) also has written many thought-provoking plays about the lives of scientists. She bases her new work, “The Catastrophist,” on the life and work of her husband: scientist Nathan Wolfe, a virologist who is an expert on plagues and has hunted viruses from the jungles of Cameroon to the basement of the CDC. Presented as “cinematic digital theater,” it takes a deep dive into the thrill of discovery, scientific exploration and the reality of facing your own mortality. A co-production of Maryland’s Round House Theatre and California’s Marin Theatre, “The Catastrophist,” starring William DeMeritt as Wolfe, is available for streaming through Feb. 28. Tickets: $30. Visit roundhousetheatre.org or marintheatre.org.
Listen to a story
Lifeline Theatre presents the 24th annual Fillet of Solo Festival, which celebrates Chicago’s storytelling and live lit scene. Presented virtually this year, the monthlong fest features 15 storytelling collectives and 17 solo performers presenting a gallery of powerful personal stories. The list of solo artists includes Rose Abdoo, Jimmy Carrane, Kevin Gladish, Kristina Lebedeva, Connie Shirakawa, Jameson Wentworth and Marcia Wilkie. The collectives range from the storytelling variety show “I Love Everything” and the very current “Pandemic Stories” to the comedy group Stir-Friday Night! and “Windows and Mirrors,” which features immigration stories. The festival streams from Feb. 8-28. A $20 donation is suggested (or pay-what-you-can) for access to the full three weeks; a $45 festival pass includes access to live virtual extras including panel discussions and workshops with festival artists. Visit lifelinetheatre.com.
A year after it was set to originally open, the highly anticipated exhibition “Frida Kahlo: Timeless” is now expected to debut on June 5 at the Cleve Carney Museum in Glen Ellyn. Leading up to this date, the McAninch Arts Center presents a series of virtual discussions celebrating the iconic Mexican artist and delving into the time in which she lived and worked. First up at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 is Cesáreo Moreno, chief curator at the National Museum of Mexican Art, with “Folk Art to Fine Art, Mercados a Museos,” a talk about the development of 20th century Mexican art. The free series continues through May 23. For a complete schedule and to register, visit atthemac.org or theccma.org/frida-events.
The latest installment of Hyde Park Art Center’s all-ages interactive Center Sundays features three hours of Teen Takeover public programs in support of the upcoming spring exhibition “Next Window, Please!,” showcasing work by artists in the center’s teen programs. Included is a walkthrough of the exhibition, a talk by artist Tzoe Rivera, a screening of a short film by Amir Johnson plus a talkback and an interview with Walter Massey, chancellor of the School of the Art Institute, on how to navigate the ins and outs of the art world. Stream the free programs from 1-4 p.m. Feb. 7. To register, visit hydeparkart.org.
Celebrate Black art
Congo Square Theatre streams Festival on the Square, a three-day event celebrating the arts. Inspired by the original Congo Square marketplace in New Orleans, where people of color communed through music and dance and celebrated the cultures of their homelands, it features a 10-minute play festival and conversations with industry professionals including actor Morocco Omari (“Empire,” “Homeland”) and Dionna Griffin-Irons, director of diversity talent inclusion for The Second City. The festival concludes with the 2021 Visions Benefit honoring director Ron OJ Parson and Les Coney, the company’s first board chairman. The free festival streams from 7-9 p.m. Feb. 4-6; registration is required. For a complete schedule, visit congosquaretheatre.org/fos.
The Orion Ensemble performs for a limited in-person and unlimited virtual audience at 6 p.m. Feb. 5 at the PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan. The program includes “Trio No. 1 in B Major for Violin, Cello and Piano, Op. 8” by Johannes Brahms and the “Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano (1992)” by Alexander Arutiunian. Tickets: $25 for in-person; the stream is free. Visit orionensemble.org.
American Blues Theater presents a live reading of Kristoffer Diaz’s new play “Football Football Football Football (or I Love Lave Dash).” Described by artistic director Gwendolyn Whiteside as an “absurd comedy about masculinity and sports,” the play, which features an all-female cast, revolves around a pro football team that must pick between two top draft picks. Streams at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 followed by a discussion with the playwright. Tickets: $10 suggested donation or pay-what-you-can. Visit americanbluestheater.com.
Mary Houlihan is a Chicago freelance writer.