March marks Women’s History Month with March 8 being International Woman’s Day. Whether lending a feminine perspective to theatrical productions or making the visual arts more accessible, women have impacted culture in strong and subtle ways. Honoring their past and supporting their current contributions is as simple (and enjoyable) as attending one or more of the shows and exhibitions listed below.
The Factory Theater presents the world premiere of by Shannon O’Neil’s The Kelly Girls (through April 1) while Wet Hot American Summer actress, writer (“Feel This Book” co-authored with Ben Stiller) and comedian Janeane Garofalo performs four stand-up performances (March 10-11) on The Heath Mainstage of Chicago’s Den Theatre. Also at the Den is Promethean Theatre Ensemble’s world premiere of A Town Called Progress (March 16-April 15) by Chicago playwright Trina Kakacek. Anna C. Bahow directs the play that humorously depicts the challenges of creating a society where the women are on top.
Forgiveness in cyberspace is explored in Raven Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Sharyn Rothstein’s Right To Be Forgotten (through April 2). “As the internet continues to record our personal narrative, from social media to the cloud, we must grapple with the concept that our memory, however subjective, has become permanent. Who we were and mistakes we may have made are cataloged, searchable and available for reinvestigation,” explains the play’s director Sarah Gitenstein. “But what if that could change? The European Union has recently legislated The Right to be Forgotten, an act that allows individuals to request the removal of personal information from search engines. But in the American constitutional system, where freedom of speech is protected, such an act is nearly impossible to adopt. So, what happens to people who want to escape the new digital permanence of memory? I’m excited to dig into these questions and ideas as we start work on Sharyn Rothstein’s nuanced take on the inescapable impact the internet has on our lives.”
Jamise Wright stars in Her Story Theater’s world premiere of Mia “Where Have All The Young Girls Gone?” at Greenhouse Theater Center (March 9-11). Written and directed by Mary Bonnett, the play personalizes the overwhelming statistics of missing and murdered women in the U.S., and asks why there aren’t systems in place to prevent Femicide.
Simran Deokule, Isabelle Muthiah, and Kianna Rose (pictured above) are featured in the world premiere of Radial Gradient at Theater Wit (through March 11). “Shattered Globe Theatre is very proud to present one of the winning plays selected from our inaugural Global Playwrights Series. The goal of the festival was to lift up the voices of new, diverse playwrights by developing their work with a commitment to produce, and to form long- term connections with these writers. SGT welcomes playwright Jasmine Sharma and director Grace Dolezal-Ng to begin this journey with us,” says SGT Producing Artistic Director Sandy Shinner.
As King Arthur (Joel Thompson) prepares for his final battle, the two most powerful women in Camelot — Queen Guinevere (Caty Gordon-Hall) and Morgan Le Fay (Elizabeth MacDougald) — claim control of their destinies amid magic, intrigue, romance and adventure in Idle Muse Theatre Company’s world premiere of The Last Queen of Camelot (March 23 – April 23) at The Edge Off-Broadway Theater.
On March 26, Chicago History Museum will showcase female storytelling by Starla Thompson and Connie Shirakawa. Included with general admission, the event includes hands-on activities for children and families.
In Rosemont, a site-specific installation by Puerto Rican-American artist Candida Alvarez is on view on Level Two of Fashion Outlets of Chicago per the center’s contemporary art program THE COLLECTION: Where Art Meets Fashion. Alvarez’s vibrant works combine abstract and figurative forms that combine historical and modern art references while blending world news and personal memories. Entitled ‘zip me up’, the two-story installation is a “colorful, visually exciting piece [that] exemplifies the fun, playful side of fashion,” says Katie Walsh, senior marketing manager at the shopping mall.
Art collector Karen Robinovitz has combined contemporary art with slime to create a space that promotes mental health at Sloomoo Institute Chicago. The interactive site features a slime wall, Kinetic Sand® Doons, ASMR experiences, scent and soundscapes, immersive videos, and “Lake Sloomoo” which includes 350 gallons of slime to walk on. Jessica Alba, Christina Aguilera, Selena Gomez, Uma Thurman and Maya Hawke have visited the flagship location in New York. “When we launched Sloomoo Institute, we were passionate about activating our customers’ senses with a physical product, going back to the concept of sensory play and analog experiences as a way to find joy and let go of swipe culture,” explain Sloomoo founders Karen Robinovitz and Sara Schiller.
Paintings, sculpture, multiple media works, and nearly 100 woodblock prints by Lygia Pape (1927-2004) are showcased in Lygia Pape: Tecelares (through June 5) at Chicago’s Art Institute. The exhibition brings together contemporary works of art which have not been shown in public since the 1970s.
The museum also houses Women Designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement featuring turn-of-the-century work by Marion Mahony Griffin, artist, designer, founding member of the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society; and the first female licensed architect in the United States; Art Nouveau bronze work by Oak Park native Jessie M. Preston; 19th century Tiffany glasswork by Agnes Northrop and Clara Driscoll; 20th century work by jeweler and metalsmith Marie Zimmermann; Marblehead Pottery by designer Annie E. Aldrich and decorator Sarah Tutt; embroidery by Ann Macbeth; needlework from the Leek Embroidery Society; and contributions by May Morris, designer, teacher, activist, and daughter of British Arts and Craftsman William Morris and Pre-Raphaelite model Jane Burden.
The artwork of new and established pro-choice advocates will be on view at Weinberg/Newton Gallery (through April 15). “With this exhibition, the fight for reproductive freedom is central,” says Nabiha Khan-Giordano, executive director of the gallery and curator of the show which is co-presented with Planned Parenthood of Illinois. “It is important to recognize that such a freedom cannot be taken for granted.”