Spotlight: American Blues Theater brings 'The Lion' to life with online reading

  • Manny Buckley plays 19th-century African American civil rights activist Frederick Douglass in American Blues Theater's live, online reading of "The Lion."

    Manny Buckley plays 19th-century African American civil rights activist Frederick Douglass in American Blues Theater's live, online reading of "The Lion."

Posted1/13/2021 6:00 AM

'The Lion'

American Blues Theater's live, online reading series continues with "The Lion," a new play about 19th-century African American civil rights activist Frederick Douglass. Writer/performer and ABT ensemble member Manny Buckley plays the former slave turned abolitionist and politician. The reading is part of ABT's monthly "The Room" series showcasing original, in-development works.


7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, via Zoom. $10 suggested donation or pay-what-you-can. A group discussion follows the reading. See

Saints & sinners

"Saints & Sinners Bingo," the latest in a series of bingo parodies by "Late-Night Catechism" co-creator Vicki Quade, has begun streaming online. The production was filmed last year at Chicago's Royal George Theatre before a physically distanced audience. It stars Kathleen Puls Andrade as Mrs. Mary Margaret O'Brien, a former nun turned bingo caller trying to determine which famous saints and notorious sinners will be included in an archdiocese calendar.

Streaming at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through Feb. 21 at $20. A portion of the ticket sales benefits the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago.

Kathleen Puls Andrade stars in "Saints & Sinners Bingo," streaming through Feb. 21.
Kathleen Puls Andrade stars in "Saints & Sinners Bingo," streaming through Feb. 21. - Courtesy of Nuns4Fun
PrideArts readings

PrideArts' live virtual reading series continues with "Other People," Christopher Shinn's play about 20-something artists/friends and former lovers struggling with love, life and art. Upcoming readings include Tarell Alvin McCraney's "Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet," a coming-of-age tale about a young, gay Louisiana man from McCraney's trilogy "The Brother/Sister Plays."

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"Other People" is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19. "Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet" is at 7 p.m. Jan. 26. Tickets are $10. They're available at

In other news

• Eclectic Full Contact Theatre inaugurates its new series The Half Hour Audio Hour featuring works written and directed by women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ artists. The first production is "Breakz," Cris Eli Blak's play about a popular rapper who jeopardizes his career after he makes an out-of-character statement following the police shooting of an unarmed Black man. The audio drama is available through Feb. 13 at

• Chicago Children's Theatre premieres a new puppet film titled "Diamond's Dream," Jerrell L. Henderson and Caitlin McLeod's film about a young African American boy who falls asleep on the El and meets the ghost of a young African American girl who died during the Spanish Flu pandemic 100 years earlier. This production marks the first from CCT's Springboard Project, established to develop new works by diverse writers created for young audiences. The film debuts at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18, at CCTv, the Chicago Children's Theatre's YouTube page.

• The African American Arts Alliance in association with Black Ensemble Theater hosts its 10th Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration online at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18. The free event honors the civil rights icon's legacy through music, dance, spoken word performances and excerpts from some of his speeches formed by BET artists André Teamer, Dawn Bless and Dwight Neal among others. View the celebration at or


• Dennis Watkins' Magic Parlour at Home, his long-running close-up magic performance re-imagined as a virtual show, has been extended through Feb. 27. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with special Valentine's Day-themed performances Feb. 12-14. "My biggest goal for virtual programming was to create an experience that was as interactive and magical as my live performances," said Watkins in a prepared statement. "We've learned to leverage the available technology to create a magical experience that goes way beyond what I originally imagined. Close-up cameras let me perform material that is just too small for most venues. And I've learned that reading minds over the internet is often more powerful than it is in person." Tickets are $49, $65 for select dates. They're available at

• Victory Gardens Theater presents its First Friday Open Mic Series comprised of performances ranging from three to five minutes taking place on the first Friday of every month. See

• Collaboraction seeks proposal submissions of seven minutes or less to be produced during its 2021 festivals: "The Light," which showcases works by artists age 21 and younger; "Encounter Englewood," a new video fest showcasing Englewood artists/activists; and the sixth annual "Peacebook," a fall festival made up of new theater, dance and spoken word works about peace. Accepted proposals from diverse artists -- including Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ people -- will be developed with full, professional support. For guidelines and submission dates, see

• Interrobang Theatre Project announced additional programming for its 11th season titled Off the Record. The online season commences Feb. 5 with "Here Lies Henry," Daniel MacIvor's solo drama about a man trying to make sense of his life before it's too late. That's followed by the summer 2021 premiere of "Nostomania," Ismail Khalidi and Naomi Wallace's meditation on home and exile. See

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