Broken Nose, American Writers Festival, and a Crystal Ball

Looking for some mid-month fun? Check out the following events and ideas.

FRI 5/13

Broken Nose Theatre continues its season with the Chicago premiere of Zoe Kazan’s dystopic drama After the Blast, directed by JD Caudill. In light of the leaked SCOTUS draft decision on Roe v. Wade, Kazan’s story about a couple forced to seek government approval in order to have a child feels especially timely. Anna (Kim Boler) and Oliver (Ruben Carrazana), like the rest of humankind, have been forced to live in underground bunkers after a global disaster. Anna’s depression counts against them in their bid to become parents—so Oliver brings a robot child named Arthur into their home as a companion for his wife, which opens up a can of worms about their relationship and the stress of, you know, living underground because the surface of Earth is uninhabitable. The show opens in previews tonight at 7:30 PM and has its official press opening on Sunday at 3 PM; performances continue at the Den (1331 N. Milwaukee) Thu-Sun through Sat 6/11. As with all Broken Nose shows, tickets are pay what you can, with reservations available at (KR)

Chicago playwright Terry Guest writes often about the intersection of Blackness and queerness, as in his celebrated At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen, presented by the Story Theatre in 2019. Reader critic Catey Sullivan noted in her review, “Guest explores the impact of trauma survived not just once or twice, but as a regular occurrence over decades, passed down through generations and carried in the very genetic makeup of African Americans.” Guest revisits those themes in The Magnolia Ballet, now in previews with About Face Theatre under the direction of Mikael Burke (who also directed Drag Queen). Ezekiel, a Black teenager in Georgia who is “haunted by the ghosts of racism, homophobia, and toxic masculinity” discovers some startling letters from his late grandfather that inspire him to “burn everything to the ground.” The southern gothic fable features poetry, dance, and spectacle, and stars Guest himself as Ezekiel, along with Wardell Julius Clark, Sheldon D. Brown, and Ben Sulzberger. Tonight’s preview performance is at 7:30 PM at the Den; press opening is next Friday and it runs through 6/11. Tickets are $5-$35 at (KR)

Night crawlers know that today is Friday the 13th, so snake your way over to Subterranean (2011 W. North), then head downstairs to experience Necro-Disko: an evening of decadent darkness deejayed by Club Music, Flores Negras, and Faith Betinis. For $7, you can dance among the similarly undead–that is, the ones 21 and up. The body count starts rising at 10 PM. For more information, check out Flores Negras Productions’s Facebook page. (MC)

Chicago, turn off your lights! The city sees its biggest annual migration of birds in May, including some endangered species, so we need to work together to make their trip safer. While the migration may have peaked this month, this is still the busiest week for traveling birds, so let’s give them the dark welcome they deserve. As the Chicago Tribune reports, Chicago’s skies are the most dangerous for birds in the United States. (Thank the planes heading to and from our busy national airports and our very tall skyscrapers covered in reflective surfaces!) To help our feathered friends, conservationists are asking Chicagoans to use as few lights as possible between 11 PM and 6 AM this week. Anyone want to go stargazing? (MC)

SAT 5/14

Once a month the Renaissance Collaborative hosts a walking tour through the former Wabash YMCA (​​3763 S. Wabash). When it opened in 1911, the Wabash Y was the first one to admit Black residents, helping it become a center for political, economic, and cultural progress for Black Chicagoans. In fact, Negro History Week started there in 1926—the event eventually evolved into Black History Month in the 1970s. Now the building is a historic landmark filled with ephemera documenting its rich history. From 10:30-11:30 AM today and most second Saturdays, Renaissance Collaborative will guide you through that storied past in vivid detail. The tour is free, but donations are encouraged. Don’t forget to register! (MC)

A&A Ballet offers a family-friendly dance concert, featuring the debut of their new version of The Carnival of the Animals, featuring the music of French composer Camille Saint-Saëns and choreography by A&A cofounding artistic director Alexei Kremnev (the other “A” in the company name is Anna Reznik). Kremnev’s take on The Firebird also receives a world premiere on the hour-long bill, accompanied by sand art animation created by Anastasia Antropova. (Braeden Barnes is credited with additional choreography.) The show is at 3 PM in the mainstage space at the Athenaeum (2936 N. Southport); tickets are $25-$55 at (KR)

What does the future of Chicago Art Department (CAD) hold? Only one way to find out . . . Starting at 7 PM, CAD hosts an anniversary fundraiser called the Crystal Ball at their space (1926 S. Halsted). For 18 years, CAD has provided exhibition space, professional resources, and community for social-practice artists. This evening will include a silent auction and raffle, immersive art installations, and artist interventions in keeping with the theme (hint: there will be some magic and tarot happening). DJ LOKari will be the night’s vibe curator, which includes performing with members of Black Monument Ensemble, led by CAD artist Damon Locks. There will also be an award ceremony to honor three people who exemplify “the magic of community.” Food and open bar are included. Tickets start at $100 ($65 for students and artists), but donations of any amount are welcome and appreciated. (MC)

Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre (CRDT) has spent the spring developing new work inspired by west-side and south-side cultural organizations and icons, including photographer, historian, and scholar Carlos Flores and the Southside Jazz Coalition. That spirit of exploration is nothing new for the company, cofounded by Honduran-born choreographer Wilfredo Rivera and composer Joe Cerqua in 2007; their mission is “to fuse dance, music, and visual art to explore and celebrate contemporary society while exploring the intersection of heritage, culture, and identity.” Tonight, CRDT presents a selection from their repertoire at the Beverly Arts Center (2407 W. 111th); the show is at 7:30 PM and tickets are $36 at (KR)

A recently made sizzle reel from Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre

SUN 5/15

Chicagoans celebrate a good story and deft turn of phrase. It follows then that we’re the hometown of so many celebrated writers as well as an entire museum dedicated to their craft. The American Writers Museum (AWM) celebrates their fifth anniversary this year with the debut American Writers Festival, a free and open to the public two-day event. More than 75 authors, playwrights, and artists will offer their thoughts in a variety of panel discussions, book talks (some with opportunities for audience members to get their books autographed), and workshops. It all kicks off today at 10 AM and continues through Monday; the full schedule (available at the AWM website) lists events happening in four spaces within the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington), at the AWM itself (180 N. Michigan), and also online via the AWM’s YouTube channel. Some of today’s highlights include the keynote address from U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and Marie Arana, writer and literary director of the Library of Congress, at 10:15 AM in the Sidney R. Yates gallery at the Cultural Center, a conversation with Ashley C. Ford and Dr. Eve L. Ewing at 12:30 PM in the Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall, and “Writing American Comedy,” a panel discussion including Peter Sagal, Karen Chee, Peter Gwinn, Alexandra Petri, and Cristela Alonzo (5:30 PM in the Yates gallery). (SCJ)

Step out of the heat and into “Neo-Tang,” a group show at Co-Prosperity Sphere (3219 S. Morgan). This is work made by adults who were raised guzzling the off-flavor sugar powders (Tang, Kool-Aid, Flavor-Aid, etc) that turned hydration into a uniquely trippy childhood experience. Taking this as a metaphor for growing up American, art in this show expands on the idea that Tang as a gateway drug normalizes certain attitudes—not only treating a life necessity like water as something that we need to pay to transform in order to enjoy but also doing it in the most nutritionally bereft, experience-altering way possible. (God, those sugar highs . . . ) “Neo-Tang” revels in the personal and cultural chaos wrought from this kind of artificiality. The gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5 PM and Friday nights from 5-8 PM through the show’s closing on Sun 5/22. (MC)

Providing community radio to Chicago for 15 years means that you’ve accumulated a lot of recordings and CHIRP (107.1 on the FM dial and online at is ready to unload some of their treasures to you. The volunteer-driven station hosts a CD Blowout sale today on the back patio at Burning Bush Brewery (4014 N. Rockwell), with an indoor option depending on weather conditions. From 1-5 PM, enjoy libations from the bar and food from First Slice Pie Cafe while you shop CHIRP’s inventory of thousands of CDs. There will also be offerings on hand from Delmark Records and Mega Hugs Press. It’s free to attend and masks are requested. (SCJ)

The Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine is holding a national day of protest to honor the loss of Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist for Al Jazeera who was shot in the head by Israeli troops while wearing a press vest. Abu Akleh was a venerated reporter who compassionately documented the injustices that impacted Palestinians. At the time of her murder, she was covering the illegal Israeli raids of refugee camps in Jenin. Her death is a visceral symbol of Israeli occupation in Palestine and the ongoing international fight for press freedom. At 2 PM, protestors will be meeting at the intersection of Ida B. Wells and Michigan, and they’re encouraged to bring “friends, flags, and keffiyehs.” (MC)

MON 5/16

Get those hips moving! Tonight and every third Monday of the month, El Caobo Internacional DJs Monday Mambo Mayhem, an evening celebrating dances like the mambo, salsa, bachata, and more. It starts with a free dance lesson from the University of Chicago’s Ballroom and Latin Dance Association at 7:15 PM, so there’s no excuse to show up and at least attempt to shake it a little. Open dancing continues at 8 PM and the event is limited to those 18 years old and up. It’s all at the Promontory in Hyde Park (5311 S. Lake Park Ave. West), and while there’s no cover—be sure to bring some cash for libations. (SCJ)

TUE 5/17

German artist Beate Axmann has been visiting Chicago in the last weeks on the occasion of her solo exhibition at the gallery at DANK Haus, the non-profit north side German American cultural center (4740 N. Western). For “Sichtverrückt (Lost and Found),” Axmann curated several public events and workshops to happen alongside her collection of new paintings. Tonight is a chance to see how artists work, as Axmann invited Evanston artist Joanna Pinsky to collaborate with her on a public collaborative piece, created in real time in the gallery. Visitors can drop into the gallery (on the first floor of the center) starting at 7 PM to see the two painters at work and take in the rest of the exhibition, which closes Fri 5/20. (SCJ)

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been through the full range of human emotions this spring so far, from laughing to crying to laughing again. So why should a Tuesday night be any different? The people at the Wicker Park branch of Innjoy seem to agree, and you can join in on the roller coaster of feelings with tonight’s “Laugh Now, Cry Later” event. Join hosts Tim Tootle and Aaron Chase at 8 PM for live comedy featuring a rotating roster of local performers. Stick around later for Taste of Emo Tuesdays, a chance to hear all the hits that kept you in black eyeliner moping around the bedroom, shouting “Why? Whyyyy?” at an indifferent world. The music portion is hosted by Krue and DJ Burr, and Innjoy offers $5 taco baskets on Tuesdays before 10 so you can stuff it all down if need be. Open to those 21 and up; see the hosts’s Facebook event for more information. (SCJ)

WED 5/18

The Aura House is a Black holistic health collective that centers Black women while providing spiritual tools and mental health skills. Tonight they’re facilitating a discussion-based workshop on adult female friendship at Soho House (113-125 N. Green). Inspired by readings on why maintaining adult female friendships can be challenging, the workshop will touch on different communication styles, the unique challenges of forging new friendships in adulthood, and what a strong friendship foundation looks like. It goes from 5-7 PM, and while free, registration is required. (MC)

The Ride of Silence is an annual event hosted during Bike Safety Month that was started to raise awareness of motorists, police, and city officials of the issues that cyclists face when moving on public roadways. The ride, held at the same time in cities all over the world, also functions as a tribute to cyclists who have been injured or killed in road incidents. Tonight, cyclists in Chicago will meet up at the Thompson Center (Randolph and LaSalle) to join together as a group for the ride, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2022. Riders will start off at 6 PM on a course through downtown passing the sites of recent cyclist fatalities. The route will cover less than 10 miles, and reconvene at the Thompson Center at the end. See the Chicago Cycling Club’s website for more. (SCJ)

THU 5/19

Looking to get more money from the music you created? At noon, Golden Dagger (2447 N. Halsted) is hosting a workshop on music licensing for songwriters taught by indie folk rocker Judson Claiborne. From how to register and enforce copyright to reviewing your licensing options, Claiborne will provide a basic understanding of this revenue stream. Only you can decide if and when licensing is for you! The workshop is $25 and only open to those 21 and older. Masks and proof of vaccination are expected. (MC)

Doc10, Chicago’s only documentary film festival, starts today and continues through Sun 5/22. New this year is a curated program of short documentaries as well as an industry panel about streaming and the “increasingly high-stakes nature” of producing online documentaries. In keeping with the name, there will also be ten feature-length documentaries, including The Janes, about the 1960s Chicago abortion collective of the same name, and The Territory, which documents the anti-colonial resistance movement of the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people of the Amazon. For a complete list of programming and ticketing information, check out Doc10’s website. (MC)

A trailer created for Tongues Untied (1989)

The filmmaker Marlon Riggs was an educator, poet, and gay rights activist whose independent documentary film Tongues Untied introduced many at-home viewers to the realities of gay Black men when it was aired as part of the PBS series P.O.V. in 1991. The broadcast set off a debate about defunding the arts, led by infamous conservative Republican senator Jesse Helms, marking an early 1990s reexamination of American values that reignited a mainstream interest in supporting both the art and lives of LGBTQ+ people of color and those living with HIV. Tonight’s “Ceremonies: a Selection of Short Films by Marlon Riggs” features three of Riggs’s works: Affirmations (ten minutes, 1990), Anthem (eight minutes, 1991), and Non, Je ne Regrette Rien (No Regret) (38 minutes, 1993), the latter created with five gay Black men living with HIV; in the film they discuss the added pressure and stigmas associated with their homosexuality and HIV status. It’s a program co-hosted by South Side Projections and the South Side Community Art Center. The screening is followed by a discussion led by Chicago artist zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o’neal (who also works as the public programs and engagement manager at the art center) and Aymar Jean Christian, an associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern as well as cofounder of OTV Open Television. It’s free and starts at 6 PM tonight at South Side Community Art Center (3831 S. Michigan); an RSVP via Eventbrite is encouraged. (SCJ) 

Reader senior writer Leor Galil says that the Chicago band Gentle Heat “play no-nonsense indie rock that captures the allure of a towering blaze in the space of a single spark.” You can see if they light your fire tonight as they headline a concert at Hideout, the venerable bar and venue at 1354 W. Wabansia. This show is an all-local band affair; local band Discus will play before Gentle Heat (Galil praised their 2019 debut full-length album Something Has Happened) and the efficiently named Smut starts off the night with their take on loud and crunchy shoegaze. It all begins at 9:30 PM; advance tickets are $12 each and can be purchased through the Hideout’s website. This show is open to those 21 and up. (SCJ)

Want more stories like this one? Sign up to our daily newsletter for stories by and for Chicago.

Success! You’re on the list.
Whoops! There was an error and we couldn’t process your subscription. Please reload the page and try again.

Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.