There’s much to check out online and in person in Chicago in the week ahead.
Chicago Detours reboots its “Badass Women of History” tour as a live, interactive virtual event, which highlights diverse women who forged groundbreaking paths in science, business, culture and social justice. Each of the women has a Chicago connection, and their stories are told through videos, photos and artwork: aviator Bessie Coleman; dancer Maria Tallchief; sculptor Enid Yandell; Iva Toguri D’Aquino, who gained notoriety as Tokyo Rose during World War II, and Naomi Weisstein, founder of American Women in Psychology. Streams at 6 p.m. March 8 and 12, and 1 p.m. March 20 and 27. Tickets: $20, $35. Visit chicagodetours.com/virtual-tours/.
The Steppenwolf Theatre NOW Series continues with Vivian J.O. Barnes’ “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” Soon there will be a royal wedding and rules must be taught and absorbed as a duchess (Sydney Charles) meets and tutors the young soon-to-be duchess (Celeste M. Cooper) in the ways of her future family. Loosely inspired by Meghan Markle’s experience with the British royals, Barnes investigates how society’s institutions of power affect Black women. Directed by Weyni Mengesha, the drama begins streaming March 10. Tickets: $75 includes access to all six Steppenwolf NOW productions. Visit steppenwolf.org/now.
It’s time to catch up with exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art, several of which opened just as another shutdown began this past December. One of these, “Carolina Caycedo: From the Bottom of the River” (to Sept. 12), surveys the past 10 years of the artist’s practice, which addresses humanity’s relationship with nature via an array of video, drawing, sculpture and photography. Featured in the exhibit is “Be Damned,” an ongoing multimedia project that examines the impact of hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure projects on communities and the environment. Admission: $15. Visit mcachicago.org.
South Asian traditions
The annual Mandala Makers Festival features a series of streaming performances at 7 p.m. every Friday in March. Each evening showcases musical artists rooted in South Asian traditions both classic and contemporary. The March 5 edition includes Uma Balachandran performing konnakol (the art of performing percussion syllables vocally) accompanied by her father, Murali Balachandran, on mridangam; Pavitra Ramachandran, a Carnatic singer accompanied by her father Prasod Ramachandran on violin, and Rini, featuring Indian electronica and art rock drawing from Carnatic traditions. The festival running through March 26 is free but donations to Mandala South Asian Performing Arts’are appreciated. Visit makersfestival.mandalaarts.org.
In 1971, during the Vietnam War, actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland along with other performers took their controversial musical comedy tour “F.T.A.” to Southeast Asia. (The title comes from the original Army recruitment slogan “Fun, Travel, Adventure” and redubbed “Free the Army” or “F— the Army.”) The tour, which was popular with enlisted men and women, was filmed by director Francine Parker for a documentary that was released in 1972 but quickly pulled from theaters due to Fonda’s infamous visit to Hanoi. Now the rarely seen film, with an added introduction by Fonda, has been restored and is available for streaming via Facets through March 25. Tickets: $10. For more information, visit facets.org.
The Museum of Illusions (25 E. Washington), where nothing is quite as it seems. is a one-of-a-kind adventure that reveals a lot about how the brain interprets reality. There are more than 80 visual and educational exhibits featuring holograms, stereograms, optical illusions and immersive rooms that are designed to tease the senses and trick the mind. Plus you can learn the mechanics behind each illusion. Admission is $15-$21, children under 5 free. Visit chicago.museumofillusions.us.
The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus ends its season dedicated to famous novels with “Lipstick & Lyrics: Diva Dracula,” featuring 15 drag performers on a journey through the macabre which runs from “scary to hysterical,” according to artistic director James Morehead. The concert streams at 8 p.m. March 6, 12 and 13. Tickets: $15-$40. Visit cgmc.org/lnl.
Playmakers Laboratory’s online revue “That’s Weird, Grandma: House Par-Tay” continues with adaptations of stories written by students from Chicago elementary schools that celebrate Women’s History Month, St. Patrick’s day and more. Streams through March 29 Tickets: $2-$4. Visit playmakerslab.org. … Actress Betsey Means performs “Democracy in America: A Social Gathering with Jane Addams,” her solo show based on the social justice crusader’s life and writings. Streams at noon March 8. Tickets: $15. Visit driehausmuseum.org. … Vicki Quade’s comedy “Easter Bunny Bingo: Jesus, Resurrection & Peeps” streams through April 4. Tickets: $15. Visit nuns4fun.com.
Mary Houlihan is a Chicago freelance writer.