Chanell Bell in What to Send Up When It Goes Down (2022)
Chanell Bell in What to Send Up When It Goes Down (2022) Credit: Sulyiman Stokes

When temperatures drop in Chicagoland, residents can drop in to theaters and museums where a host of shows are on stage and on walls.

In Theaters

Shattered Globe Theatre launches its new season with the Chicago premiere of Zora Howard’s award-winning comedy STEW (through Oct. 22) at Theater Wit as The New Coordinates conclude its season with the world premiere of Kristin Idaszak’s drama Last Ascent (through Nov. 20) at Chicago’s Den Theatre. “I have loved this story since its inception, and through the years of development it has only grown sharper, clearer and more relevant,” says The New Coordinates Co-Artistic Director Fin Coe [UPDATE: Last Ascent has been unexpectedly postponed; instead, Den Theatre runs the following shows, on different dates, through October to early November: Dracula, Windwalkers, Botticelli in the Fire, Science Fiction: Double Feature, A Rocky Horror Picture Party, and Above the Water].

In Aurora, Laura Alcalá Baker directs the world premiere of Nancy García Loza’s play BULL: a love story (through Nov. 20) at Paramount’s new Copley Theatre. The production is part of Chicago’s annual citywide festival Destinos which also includes Teatro Vista’s world premiere of Paloma Nozicka’s psychological thriller Enough to Let the Light in (through Oct. 23) at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theater.

Enough to Let the Light In is a taut, poignant and startling exploration of love and loss,” explains the play’s director Georgette Verdin. “Audiences will experience one fateful evening in the lives of Marc [Melissa DuPrey of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy] and Cynthia [Lisandra Tena of AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead], two women who are very much in love. But what happens when everything they thought they understood about each other gets thrown into question and their commitment is put through the ultimate test? Paloma’s play will have you leaning in and grasping for solid ground.”

At the Edgewater Presbyterian Church, City Lit‘s world premiere of The Mark of Kane (Oct. 30 – Dec. 4) explores the creation of Batman, while The Locusts (Oct. 20 – Nov. 19) makes its world premiere at Theater Wit via The Gift Theatre. The thriller about a serial killer “asks how women of different generations deal with the threat of male violence — a threat that looms in some way over all of the characters in the play, as well as over our current world and the legislation we see happening in America before our eyes,” says playwright Jennifer Rumberger.

Congo Square Theatre Company, in residence at Lookingglass Theatre Company, presents What to Send Up When It Goes Down (through Oct.16). Part ritual, part pageant and part satire, the musical designed by Aleshea Harris is a way for Black communities to heal from targeted violence. “What to Send Up When it Goes Down has been such a pivotal work in our community since its Chicago premiere,” says Congo Square Theatre Executive Director Charlique C. Rolle. “We believe that it will continue to have a compounding impact in this remount as we endeavor to bring more of our community into this healing and revelatory experience.” Audience members of all races are encouraged to attend the healing initiative.

Moving from past to present, Marys Seacole charts the life of a 19th century British-Jamaican nurse as she goes from the Crimean War to a contemporary nursing home. Griffin Theatre Company’s Midwest premiere by Pulitzer Prize winner Jackie Sibblies Drury performs on Raven Theatre’s Schwartz Stage through Nov. 6.

In Museums

The Chicago History Museum kicks off the Halloween season with Haunted Dolls and History Horrors (through Nov. 6). “I am excited for people to view items from our collection that aren’t normally shown, and learn about some frightening and intriguing tales from Chicago’s history in an interactive way,” explains Charles Bethea, Andrew W. Mellon Director of Curatorial Affairs. Suitable for adults and children, the exhibition includes a scavenger hunt.

Greek Independence Day Parade in Chicago (1980), photo by Diane Alexander White 

Photographs depicting Chicago’s Greek-American festivals as well as other ethnic events from the 1970s and 1980s are showcased in Gather Together: Chicago Street Photography by Diane Alexander White (through April 30, 2023) at the National Hellenic Museum. “Diane’s works vividly capture how Chicago’s Greek American community gathers in the public space to show pride in its identity and share its culture,” says Executive Director Marianne Kountoures. “Through her images of other ethnic and cultural celebrations, Diane also explores the universality of how Chicagoans gather together to show pride in their diverse communities.”

Thanks to Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s –1980s (through Dec. 4), the Barjeel Art Foundation’s collection of mid-century abstract art from North Africa, West Asia and the Arab diaspora is on display at Northwestern University’s Block Museum in Evanston. “‘Though abstract, these diverse works reflect the larger cultural, intellectual and spiritual negotiations of the Arab world in the 20th century,” explains exhibition curator Suheyla Takesh of the Barjeel Foundation. Taking Shape illuminates these broad horizons, introducing visitors to the diverse schools and movements that developed within and across these nations in a time of heightened international dialogue and diaspora.”

The Art Institute of Chicago, in collaboration with the Hammer Museum and the Morgan Library & Museum, presents Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist’s Studio (through Jan. 16, 2023) featuring more than 90 images from the artist’s private collection. “This exhibition allows the viewer to question the limits and possibilities of representation and abstraction, from studies of the human body to diagonal bands of color,” notes Jay A. Clarke, Rothman Family Curator, Prints and Drawings, who curated the exhibition with Cynthia Burlingham, Director of the Grunewald Center for the Graphic Arts and Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs, Hammer Museum; and Rachel Federman, Associate Curator, Modern and Contemporary Drawings, Morgan Library and Museum.

Janet Arvia

Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.