Virtual Play Offers Night Out at the Theater, Without Leaving Home


As you work through your list of at-home entertainment options, don’t forget to consider a night of theater.

Chicago’s Theater Wit is now livestreaming the play “Teenage Dick.” Described as a “pretty hilarious take” on Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” the theater says it makes for the perfect night in. 

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“It’s not the same as Netflix, it’s not the same as film. It’s a different relationship to the viewer, a different experience,” said Theater Wit artistic director Jeremy Wechsler.

The play, written by Mike Lew and directed by Brian Balcom, is currently in the middle of a virtual run. 

“The play itself in addition to being super fun is a mashup of like ‘Election’ and ’10 Things I Hate About You,’ some of those teen comedies,” Wechsler said. “Shakespeare has some serious things they’re talking about in terms of like the relationship with the disabled community to the abled, and how a lot of preconceptions really interfere in clear communication between these two groups.”

  • Ty Fanning, left, and MacGregor Arney in “Teenage Dick.” (Photo credit: Charles Osgood)

    Ty Fanning, left, and MacGregor Arney in “Teenage Dick.” (Photo credit: Charles Osgood)

  • Courtney Rikki Green, left, Tamara Rozofsky, center, and MacGregor Arney in “Teenage Dick,” at Theater Wit. (Photo credit: Charles Osgood)

    Courtney Rikki Green, left, Tamara Rozofsky, center, and MacGregor Arney in “Teenage Dick,” at Theater Wit. (Photo credit: Charles Osgood)

  • MacGregor Arney and Courtney Rikki Green in “Teenage Dick,” at Theater Wit. (Photo credit: Charles Osgood)

    MacGregor Arney and Courtney Rikki Green in “Teenage Dick,” at Theater Wit. (Photo credit: Charles Osgood)

  • Ty Fanning, left, and MacGregor Arney in “Teenage Dick.” (Photo credit: Charles Osgood)

    Ty Fanning, left, and MacGregor Arney in “Teenage Dick.” (Photo credit: Charles Osgood)

  • Director Brian Balcom gives notes to the cast during a rehearsal of “Teenage Dick.” (Photo credit: Charles Osgood)

    Director Brian Balcom gives notes to the cast during a rehearsal of “Teenage Dick.” (Photo credit: Charles Osgood)

The virtual experience requires a ticket for the 100-minute show, which you can only watch once at a designated time (much like a typical theater event). But in this case, people from all over the world get a taste of Chicago’s theater scene, including audience members from Honolulu, South Carolina, California and Australia.

“We’re bringing some of that cultural life of Chicago outside,” Wechsler says. “So we’ve had a number of people from other states getting to watch the show, which they would never get to do. People hear all sorts of things about Chicago’s small theater scene, which is the best in the country right now and nobody can see it.”

After the show, viewers can participate in a real-time discussion with the cast and crew on GoToMeeting. It’s an Wechsler says is imperative during the pandemic.

“It is important to reinforce that you don’t just live alone and plan out your weekly grocery run. That you are still a part of a larger community and it’s not a community defined solely by responding to quarantine,” he said. “It is a community defined by a whole set of shared cultural values and interests that can find their expression in a play like ‘Teenage Dick,’ or a number of other spaces. But having that sense of connection to the larger culture, I think, is invaluable right now.”

With half of the performances to date already sold out, Wechsler says the message behind “Teenage Dick" couldn’t be more timely. 

“One of the things remarkable about the play happening right now, is the disabled community has long been dealing with difficulty traveling, health, the complexity of planning regular activities,” he said. “Now all of a sudden, everyone has found themselves in this place. To see this group of people overcoming odds in the midst of a thing that has basically completely disoriented us. I think there is something valuable that people can take away from the experience apart from the jokes in the play.”


More on this story

Theater Wit’s “Teenage Dick” has been extended through Sunday, May 3. For tickets ($28) and more information, visit theaterwit.org.

Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3

Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.


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