The Ten

Don’t-miss picks for April 26 through May 2, 2018

1 Lucky Plush Productions

Dance:Director Julia Rhoads continues to hone her signature blend of dance, theater, and humorous antics in Tab Show. The two works on the program repurpose old material: Rink Life, an extension of the 2017 piece Cadence, created for Hubbard Street, is inspired by roller-rink culture, and Curb Candy remixes bits and pieces of company favorites.
4/26–27. $25–$70. Harris Theater.

2 How to Use a Knife

Theater:You may look at fine dining differently after seeing Will Snider’s scathing behind-the-scenes exploration of restaurant kitchen culture. With rapid-fire dialogue as sharp as the cutlery, Snider’s story of a chef, a busboy, a dishwasher, and a pair of Guatemalan line cooks gives new meaning to the term “kitchen sink realism.”
4/26–6/9. $10–$35. Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit.

3 Out of Easy Reach

Art:Three Chicago museums join forces to protest the treatment of gender and race in the art world, specifically how the contributions of female artists of color have been overlooked. Visionary curator Allison Glenn brings together 24 black and Latina women, including Candida Alvarez, Edra Soto, and Bethany Collins, who represent some of today’s finest contemporary artists.
FREE 4/26–8/5. Free. Various venues.

4 John Prine

Folk:Prine has always been a songwriter’s songwriter. The Maywood native and onetime Chicagoan has never dominated the folk music scene, but he’s long been among the most respected journeymen of Americana, thanks to his top-shelf song craft, his understated guitar picking, and his trademark delivery—a nearly deadpan drawl that’s only improved with age.
4/27 at 8 p.m. $80–$305. Chicago Theatre.

5 Reality Is an Activity

Theater:In Theater Oobleck’s performance of Chicago writer and performer Barrie Cole’s new play, the protagonists are on a mission to “stop everything from sucking forever” while using the poetry of William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens. The quirky theater collective offers a flexible ticket price that asks for “more if you’ve got it, free if you’re broke.”
4/27–6/3. $20. The Den Theatre.

6 Chicago Humanities Festival

Talks and Lectures:For the first time, the spring kickoff of this annual gathering of celebrities, intellectuals, and celebrity intellectuals will begin a yearlong exploration of a theme: Graphic! (exclamation point included for visual reasons, of course). Invited participants are those whose work corresponds with a present in which photographs, emoji, and videos are increasingly part of our lexicon. The most recognizable: artist Ai Weiwei, author Gillian Flynn, and musician Questlove.
4/28–29. Various venues and prices.

7 Malott Japanese Garden Spring Festival

Festival:Long a family-friendly favorite, this festival honors Japanese culture with the help of several local groups dedicated to passing down the traditional arts of koto playing, papermaking, and calligraphy. New to the mix this year: the Urasenke Chicago Association, which will perform a free tea ceremony and tasting each day.
FREE 4/28–29 at 10 a.m. Free. Chicago Botanic Garden.

8 Kenneth Josephson

Art:“Chicago is the best city for architecture I’ve ever experienced,” said Josephson, whose photographs of it avoid obvious skyline pictures. The images, mostly black-and-white shots taken from the 1960s to the 1980s, capture Chicago’s mood in its best, and sometimes strangest, light.
4/28–12/30. $8–$15. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

9 Poetry off the Shelf: Maggie Nelson

Poetry:Maggie Nelson’s nonfiction defies easy categorization. Her most recent book, The Argonauts, was an account of her partner’s transgender transition that alternated between intimate prose and a scholarly examination of gender. Her poetry, likewise, has little regard for genre, but it’s similarly immediate, accessible, and often heartbreaking. She’ll read from and discuss her work.
FREE 4/30 at 6 p.m. Art Institute of Chicago.

10 Jorja Smith

R&B:Smith may be best known for her appearances on Drake songs and the Black Panther soundtrack, but the British R&B singer is formidable enough to stand on her own. Her 2016 EP, Project II, is a beautiful, sensual release that channels Amy Winehouse’s full-throated singing and Rihanna’s charisma.
5/2 at 7 p.m. Sold out; see resellers. Thalia Hall.