Don’t-miss picks for January 10 through January 16, 2019
1 Isabella Rossellini: Link Link Circus
Theater:The actress presents a “theatricalized lecture” that uses her self-produced short films, home movies, and animation to explore Darwin’s theory of evolution. The live performance is a spin on Rossellini’s charming and educational Sundance TV series Green Porno, which looked at animal mating rituals.
1/10–11. $45. Old Town School of Folk Music. oldtownschool.org
2 Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival
Comedy:The 18th annual event features eight days of sketch pieces from local and visiting troupes. Headlining this year is Parv and Pudi, a two-man show featuring Parvesh Cheena and Danny Pudi (Community). Local performers on the lineup include Rehner & Nixon, Off Off Broadway, and Patti Vasquez.
1/10–20. $15–$225. Stage 773. chicagosketchfest.com
3 Dada Woof Papa Hot
Theater:The seemingly nonsensical title of Peter Parnell’s domestic comedy refers to a young child’s first attempts at naming her two dads. Parenthood has been covered ad nauseam since the ancient Greeks, but for this production About Face has recruited a particularly talented cast, featuring Benjamin Sprunger, Lily Mojekwu, and Bruch Reed.
1/10–2/16. $15–$38. Theater Wit. aboutfacetheatre.com
4 Ragamala Dance Company
Dance:This Minneapolis-based South Indian dance troupe celebrates its 26th season at the Harris. Mother and daughter Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy spent four years creating Written in Water, a Bharatanatyam exploration of good and evil inspired by ancient Sufi texts.
1/11–12. $35–$135. Harris Theater. harristheaterchicago.org
5 Andrew Norman Wilson: Kodak
Art:During its height as a film-processing company, Kodak routinely hired blind people in its darkrooms because of their enhanced sense of touch. Wilson, a New York artist, conducted interviews with some of these former employees for this solo show, which pays homage to Kodak through video, prints, and other media. It reflects Wilson’s nostalgia for the glory days of photography, but also for his childhood — his father worked at Kodak for decades.
FREE 1/11–2/23. Document. documentspace.com
6 Winter Chamber Music Festival
Classical:In some barren weeks of the classical music calendar, Northwestern books ensembles of players few in number but great in stature for three straight Friday and Sunday nights. The cold-weather festival kicks off with one of Northwestern’s ensembles in residence, the superb Dover Quartet.
1/11–27. $10–$30. Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University. music.northwestern.edu
7 Unchained Melodies
New Music:Inspired by the puzzle-like dimension of crab canons and J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue, composer Dan Visconti wrote a piece with 1,023 different instrumentations and countless possible renditions. The new-music outreachers of Fifth House Ensemble premiere Unchained Melodies at this multiday event, playing it several times in different instantiations during the course of the concert.
1/12–20. Free–$18. Various locations. fifth-house.com
8 Daniel Miller: Ebb and Flow
Art:As a robotics professor, Miller knows how machines can improve our lives, but as an artist, he questions technology’s lasting effects on our planet. In this solo exhibit, Miller’s mechanical sculptures mimic organisms disrupted by human intervention. Look out for the Ouroboros, a robot that digests and excretes plastic.
FREE 1/11–2/8. Evanston Art Center. evanstonartcenter.org
9 Steve Earle
Country:When he emerged in 1986 with his debut album Guitar Town, this singer-songwriter was defying Nashville clichés with a sound as indebted to Bruce Springsteen and the Replacements as to Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Since then Earle has consistently generated snarling, smart country rock with songs that play out more like short stories, rich with humor, detail, and character. Speaking of characters, you might recognize Earle from the ones he played in David Simon’s TV shows The Wire (as Walon, an addiction counselor) and Treme (as street musician Harley Watt).
1/14–15. $50–$65; $75 meet and greet. City Winery. citywinery.com
10 Meshell Ndegeocello
R&B:The word “subversive” tends to be overused when describing artists, but the term fits this bassist, singer, and songwriter. Ndegeocello’s playing can switch from soft to explosive in a matter of seconds, and her music covers funk, soul, rock, and numerous other styles without brandishing any of their trademarks or clichés. Brian Eno once called a performance of hers “probably the best show I ever saw.”
1/15 at 8 p.m. $28–$75. Thalia Hall. eventbrite.com