The Five

Don’t-miss picks for February 1 through February 7, 2017

1 Straight White Men

Theater:Buzzed-about playwright and provocateur Young Jean Lee has been subverting gender in New York for years, but Steppenwolf snagged her first locally produced project. Lee also directs this story about straight white men who find their privilege and dominance upended one momentous Christmas.
2/2–3/19. $20–$89. Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted.

2 Jonathan Biss

Classical:Five disks into a nine-year, nine-CD recording cycle of all Beethoven’s piano sonatas, this thoughtful pianist steps back for a recital of Schumann, the 20th- and 21st-century composer György Kurtág, Chopin, and a boatful of Brahms, including the intermezzos of opuses 118 and 119.
2/3 at 7:30 p.m. $10–$30. Galvin Recital Hall at Northwestern University, 70 E. Arts Circle, Evanston.

3 Wayang: The Art of Indonesian Puppetry

Art:Get a crash course in ancient puppetry at this in-depth exhibit that probes the Indonesian art form wayang, which has been performed on the island of Java for more than a thousand years. A typical show might last for eight hours, using puppets made from buffalo hide, wood, and cloth to encompass mythological and political themes.
2/4–6/3. $3–$9. Loyola University Museum of Art, 820 N. Michigan.

4 Lunar New Year Parade

Parade:Ring in the Year of the Rooster with colorful community floats, lion dancers, and a 90-foot-long lucky dragon.
2/5 at 1 p.m. Free. Wentworth Avenue from 24th Street to Cermak.

5 Sampha

R&B:It’s no surprise that artists like Beyoncé, Solange, and Jessie Ware turn to this British vocalist for the more haunting tracks on their records. Born Sampha Sisay, the Londoner has one of the most distinct voices in pop music, and after years of collaborations and false starts, he’ll release his long-awaited debut this month (and embark on this U.S. tour to support it).
2/6 at 8 p.m. Sold out; see resellers. Metro, 3730 N. Clark.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

Quraysh Ali Lansana
Quraysh Ali Lansana Photo: Alan Tarin

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know-locals: Quraysh Ali Lansana, poet, author, and artistic director of Our Miss Brooks: A Centennial Celebration, a year-and-a-half long celebration of Gwendolyn Brooks that kicks off this week.

“Thursday is the kickoff to the centennial celebration for Miss Gwendolyn Brooks and it features the five other African-American Pulitzer Prize–winning poets. It’s never happened before that all poets have read in one place. There were 37 years between Miss Brooks’s and Miss Rita Dove’s Pulitzers, and it’s interesting to think about what happened in those years in American history.

“A student poet named Maya Dru, who is a senior at Jones College Prep and a member of the poetry team I helped coach called the Rebirth Poetry Ensemble—and last year’s team champs at Louder Than a Bomb—will read an original poem to open the evening. Then all five poets will read their favorite poem by Miss Brooks as well as one or two of their own poems. Before the event, we’re also having interviews with the poets for the PBS American Masters series.

“It’s also a big kickoff to Chicago’s Black History Month. [These poets] are coming to honor someone who really paved the way for all of us as poets in terms of examining and celebrating—as well as questioning—the black American experience.

“I’m going to The Gage on Thursday night for the post-reading. It’s a dinner with the poets.

“The same poetry ensemble that I helped coach, Rebirth, is collaborating with the Deeply Rooted Dance Theater and they’re doing a show [in Skokie] on Saturday evening that I’m going to go to. The piece that they’re participating in is called Jagged Ledges. And then I have an interview with Rick Kogan on Sunday night. I may also catch a movie this weekend. I haven’t seen Moonlight. That’s at the top of the list.

“I’ll also be working on the second anthology that I’m coediting with Georgia Popoff, called Whiskey of Our Discontent: Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience and Change Agent.

“Bob Marley’s birthday is coming up, and I like to celebrate Bob Marley. He’s very important to me. I will probably catch a reggae set somewhere. Probably at The Wild Hare. It’s about the only reggae club in town. Unless there’s a party somewhere.

“Langston Hughes’s birthday is also this week. He has a quote about how writers should spend some time in Chicago, which he did. I think that at this time of year with it being Langston’s birthday and this being the year that we honor Miss Brooks, it’s particularly special to bring these poets to the city as a gift.” —As told to Jamison Pfeifer

Freebie of the Week

Our Miss Brooks 100

Poetry:Gwendolyn Brooks, former Illinois poet laureate and the first African American poet to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950, would be turning 100 this June. To commence the year-and-a-half long series of readings, performances, and exhibits, Our Miss Brooks: A Centennial Celebration hosts a reading at the Art Institute with the five other African American Pulitzer Prize-winning poets: Rita Dove, Yusef Komunyakaa, Natasha Trethewey, Tracy K. Smith, and Gregory Pardlo.
2/2. Free with museum admission (online registration required). Rubloff Auditorium at the Art Institute, 230 S. Columbus.