The Ex Files

LOVE HURTS: Letters X/6 pours its heart out at Hungry Brain

Can’t agree on how to celebrate V Day? Split the difference between a romantic dinner and ignoring the holiday altogether with Letters/X 6, Groundup Theatre’s guffaw-worthy annual roundup of Dear John letters recast as monologues, sketches, and songs performed by both people and puppets (yes, puppets). Cheap-date warning: The performance is free, although donations are accepted. The show runs 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays through March 7th at one of our all-time favorite bars, Hungry Brain (2319 W. Belmont Ave.; info: –Rebecca Little


Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

Last year Eighth Blackbird won a Grammy; then composer Stephen Hartke nabbed a Pulitzer nom for Meanwhile, a playfully wacky composition written for this virtuosic sextet and inspired by the puppetry of Asian court theatre (yes, more puppets). Don’t miss the piece’s Chicago premiere in an all-Hartke concert with The Hilliard Ensemble. The performance begins 7:30 p.m. Thursday the 19th at the Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph Dr.; Tickets are $30. –Nora O’Donnell

Celebrate Black History Month with an evening of tributes to singular jazz voices. We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite begins with Chicagoan Maggie Brown’s Songs of My Father, an homage to her legendary musician/playwright/poet dad, Oscar Brown Jr., and ends with the politically charged 1960 song cycle We Insist!, with lyrics by Oscar and music by Max Roach. Showtime is 8 p.m. Friday the 13th at Symphony Center (220 S. Michigan Ave.; Tickets are $24 to $49. –Mark Loehrke

The perfect first-date dance troupe—sexy, entertaining, and increasingly edgy—capitalizes on its charm in a Valentine’s performance. River North Chicago Dance Company’s weekend engagement at the Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph Dr.; features three world premieres, plus Robert Battle’s propulsive, heart-racing Train. The show runs 8 p.m. Friday the 13th and Saturday the 14th; tickets are $30 to $65.  –Lucia Mauro

The cover of the book on which the play Mariette in Ecstasy is based only looks profane (picture a close-up of a nun in the throes of an unmistakable “O face”). There’s nothing obscene or exploitative about Ron Hansen’s bewitching tale of stigmata in a 1906 cloistered convent. Nevertheless, this is one adaptation that has us panting in anticipation. The show runs Friday the 13th through April 5th at Lifeline Theatre (6912 N. Glenwood Ave.; Previews, Friday the 13th through Sunday the 22nd, are $20; regular-run tickets are $15 to $30.  –Catey Sullivan

Who was Edvard Munch? An artist whose iconic work, The Scream, reveals a deeply troubled inner life? Or a shrewd businessman capable of wrapping the 19th-century art world around his twisted little figure? Becoming Edvard Munch follows the trail of the artist with 150 works by Munch and his contemporaries as clues. The exhibition runs Saturday the 14th through April 26th at the Art Institute (111 S. Michigan Ave.; Entry is $10 during February, when general admission to the museum is free.  –Jennifer Wehunt