Showing posts with label regional premieres. Show all posts
Showing posts with label regional premieres. Show all posts

Friday, July 21, 2023

About Face Theatre's 2023-2024 Season To Feature Two Regional Premieres

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About Face Theatre 

Announces 2023-2024 Season

AFT’s 29th season will feature two regional premieres alongside

touring workshops and community building

About Face Theatre announces plans for its 29th season. Dedicated to advancing LGBTQ+ equity through community building, education, and performance, About Face will present two regional premiere productions at The Den Theatre in Wicker Parker, as well as the return of its popular workshop reading series Re/Generation Studio and touring performances and workshops.

About Face’s 2023-2024 season will begin in October with Re/Generation Studio, a free three-week reading workshop series charting the future of LGBTQ+ theatre. AFT first presented Re/Generation Studio in its 2022-2023 season and featured such plays as Roger Q. Mason’s Lavender Men, Steven Strafford’s The Model Congressman, and Derek Lee McPhatter’s underdrown, among others. Plays and workshops in this season’s Re/Generation Studio will be announced in August. The season will continue in 2024 with the Midwest premiere of The Brightest Thing in the World by Leah Nanako Winkler, directed by AFT Artistic Associate Keira Fromm. The Brightest Thing in the World charts the evolution of a lesbian couple’s rom-com courtship through struggles with honesty and addiction. The season will conclude with the Midwest premiere of Lavender Men by Roger Q. Mason, directed by Lucky Stiff, starting in April 2024. In Lavender Men, contemporary gender non-conformist Taffeta plays post-mortem matchmaker to Abe Lincoln and his queer legal assistant Elmer Ellsworth, only to realize she is the one who needs real love healing. During the season, About Face will also offer customized touring workshops and performances throughout Chicagoland designed to increase a sense of belonging, invite brave dialogue, and move individuals and groups toward equity and action. 

“We are at a fraught moment in history where it is vital that we continue elevating LGBTQ+ stories and amplifying queer voices,” says AFT Artistic Director Megan Carney. “About Face’s mission is all about advancing LGBTQ+ equity through community building, education, and performance. And this season features some truly unique stories that will bring audiences together and incite our imaginations in the ways that only great theatre can.”



The Brightest Thing in the World

Written by Leah Nanako Winkler

Directed by AFT Artistic Associate Keira Fromm

March 14 – April 13, 2024 | Press opening: Friday, March 22

Showtimes: Thurs & Fri @ 8:00pm, Sat @ 3:00pm & 8:00pm, Sun @ 3:00pm

All performances will take place at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago 

Pay-what-you-can tickets ($5 – $35) on sale September 15, 2023, at The Den Theatre box office or About Face Theatre’s website.

Charmingly free-spirited barista Lane is determined to win over her new regular, the reserved and intellectual Steph. Delightful romantic comedy ensues with poetry, homemade desserts, and sparks flying. But both women are carrying life-changing secrets involving addiction, past relationships, and family. What happens when the giddy romance wears off and Lane and Steph must do the work of building a lasting relationship out of honesty, compassion, and courage? The Brightest Thing in the World is a funny, heartfelt new play delving into the people we think we know and the people we know we love. 

“I love Leah Nanako Winkler’s use of language and the smart, messy, recognizable women at the center of the story,” says director Keira Fromm. “She has created a play that manages to be both a funny queer rom-com and a devastating portrait of addiction and the ways we’re all constantly in a state of recovery.” The Brightest Thing in the World was commissioned by Yale Repertory Theatre in 2019, where it received its world premiere in 2022. About Face’s production will be the play’s Midwest premiere.


Lavender Men

Written by Roger Q. Mason

Directed by Lucky Stiff

May 9 – June 8, 2024 | Press opening: Friday, May 17

Showtimes: Thurs & Fri @ 8:00pm, Sat @ 3:00pm and 8:00pm, Sun @ 3:00pm

at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

Pay-what-you-can tickets ($5 – $35) on sale September 15, 2023, at The Den Theatre box office or About Face Theatre’s website.

Taffeta is a fat, multi-racial femme with a unique form of queer magic: she can conjure dead historical figures. In this energetic and surreal play, Taffeta invites audiences along as she summons none other than President Abraham Lincoln and his handsome young law clerk Elmer Ellsworth to her stage. Playing every other character in Abe and Elmer’s gay narrative, Taffeta uses this fantasia to confront issues of visibility, race, and LGBTQ+ inclusion. But is any of this historically accurate? Sit down, honey, that’s not what we’re here for. Lavender Men is an embrace to every queer, fat person of color who has been ignored, neglected, or erased for unapologetically being themselves.

Lavender Men was first produced at Skyline Theatre in Los Angeles in 2022 with playwright Roger Q. Mason in the role of Taffeta. About Face Theatre introduced the play to audiences last season through our Re/Generation Studio workshop series, featuring playwright Roger Q. Mason and director Lucky Stiff. Audience reaction was so enthusiastic that About Face is now thrilled to present a full production of this new work in our 29th season.

“Lavender Men was born from my time living and studying in Chicago, almost 10 years ago,” says playwright Roger Q. Mason. “The city's vibrant embrace of LGBTQIA+ life liberated me personally and artistically, and I emerged a proud plus-sized, queer, POC playwright in the American Theatre. About Face Theatre is a leader, locally and nationally, in queer storytelling, and I am honored to partner with them to bring Lavender Men home to its birthplace—Chicago.”


Re/Generation Studio

An intergenerational workshop series building the future of queer theatre

Nov 30 – Dec 16, 2023

Individual workshop days & times TBD

at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

All workshops are free and open to the public.

Re/Generation Studio is About Face Theatre’s invitation to build the future of queer theatre together. This welcoming series of public workshops is shaped as a collective dreaming space for connecting with each other, learning about new plays, world-building, and exploring new production models. Each workshop will be grounded by staged readings of sections of new plays designed to invite conversation, collaboration, and creation in a shared space. Facilitators will offer key questions and considerations raised by the playwrights and directors and encourage participants to work together to brainstorm and develop creative solutions.

About Face premiered Re/Generation Studio in February 2023 as a vehicle for reconnecting, restoring, and recreating with audiences and artists after the pandemic. The overwhelming response from participants proved to us that these kinds of creative events are necessary to build and rebuild our communities. AFT is thrilled to be bringing the series back to continue engaging audiences and artists directly with up-and-coming new LGBTQ+ plays.

“Re/Generation Studio is all about taking the risk of coming together and sharing experiences,” says co-curator Pen Wilder. “The perspective I gained through the workshops as an artist, a playwright, and a person were invaluable. Every great play was once a new play, and being there for so many different beginnings, middles, and ends is something really special. I’m thrilled to be involved and look forward to dreaming bigger this upcoming season.”

Touring Workshops and Performances

About Face teaching artists offer fun and accessible workshops for groups throughout the year. In collaboration with schools, churches, workplaces, clubs, and community groups, these sessions can increase a sense of belonging, invite brave dialogue, and move groups toward equity and action goals. The company’s facilitators work with group leaders to identify key goals and then present activities in mindfulness, listening, and storytelling. Interested parties can learn more at


Keira Fromm (she/her): The Brightest Thing in the World director

Keira is a Chicago-based, Jeff Award-nominated director. She is also an Artistic Associate with About Face Theatre where she directed Bull in a China Shop, Significant Other, Bright Half Life, and A Kid Like Jake. Other directing credits include: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Milwaukee Chamber Theatre), The Moors, A Phoenix Too Frequent, and A Doll’s House (American Players Theatre), The Last Match (Writers Theatre); At the Wedding and Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (TheatreSquared); Top Girls and hang (Remy Bumppo); The Columnist (American Blues Theater); Charles Ives Take Me Home (Strawdog); The How and the Why (TimeLine Theatre); Broadsword (The Gift Theatre); and Fallow (Steep Theatre.) She received her MFA from DePaul University, her BFA from Boston University, is an alumna of Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, and a member of SDC, the professional directors union. Keira will be directing The Liar at American Players Theatre this upcoming summer.

Leah Nanako Winkler (she/her): The Brightest Thing in the World playwright

Leah Nanako Winkler is an award-winning playwright and TV Writer from Kamakura, Japan, and Lexington, Kentucky. Her plays include God Said This, Two Mile Hollow, Kentucky, Hot Asian Doctor Husband, and The Brightest Thing in the World, as well as many short plays all produced Off-Broadway and regionally. Accolades and fellowships: Yale Drama Series Prize, Mark O’Donnell Prize from The Actors Fund and Playwrights Horizons, Audible’s Emerging Playwrights Fund, Jerome New York Fellow at the Lark, Francesca Primus Prize, and a 2020 Steinberg Playwright Award. She is published by American Theater Magazine, Nanjing University’s Stage and Screen Reviews, Yale University Press, Backstage, Smith and Krauss, Samuel French, and Dramatists Play Service. TV credits include Michael Moore’s TV NATION, New Amsterdam, A24’s Ramy on Hulu (where she along with the other writers won a Peabody Award), Love Life on HBO MAX, and currently on projects at Apple, Warner and Amazon.

Roger Q. Mason (they/them): Lavender Men playwright

Roger Q. Mason is a writer and performer who uses the lens of history to disrupt the biases that divide rather than unite us. Their playwriting has been seen on Broadway (Circle in the Square Reading Series); Off and Off-Off-Broadway; and regionally. Mason's world premiere of Lavender Men was lauded by the Los Angeles Times as "evoking the mingled visions of Suzan-Lori Parks, Jeremy O. Harris, and Michael R. Jackson." As a filmmaker, Mason has been recognized by the British Film Institute, Lonely Wolf International Film Festival, SCAD Film Festival, AT&T Film Award, and Atlanta International Film Festival. Their films have been screened in the US, UK, Poland, Brazil, and Asia. Mason holds degrees from Princeton University, Middlebury College, and Northwestern University. They are a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and Ma-Yi’s Writing Lab, and are an alum of Page 73’s Interstate 73 Writers Group and Primary Stages Writing Cohort. Mason has co-hosted the podcast Sister Roger’s Gayborhood and hosted This Way Out Radio's Queerly Yours: Portraits in Courage. They are a lead mentor of The Marsha P. Johnson Institute’s Starship Fellowship, the New Visions Fellowship, and the Shay Foundation Fellowship. Instagram: @rogerq.mason

Lucky Stiff (they/them): Lavender Men director

Lucky Stiff is a trans and nonbinary director, writer, and performer working in Chicago and New York. They build original experiences that combine nightclub culture and performance art which have been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Blue Man Group Chicago, Boy Friday Dance Company, and Bushwig Festival of Drag, among many others. They hold an MFA in Directing for Theater from Northwestern University and have lectured in performance and directing at UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Pen Wilder (they/them): Re/Generation Studio co-creator

Pen is a playwright, aspiring dramaturg, and artist with a focus in queer storytelling. They contribute to various literary publications and have been seen in journals such as Mulberry Literary and the ChillFiltr Review. In their free time, they also can be seen performing as part of indie rock group Cowboy Neal. Their play Switch Hitta was featured in last season’s Re/Generation Studio, and they are currently working on their next full-length play, Earthshine.

Megan Carney (she/her): AFT Artistic Director, Re/Generation Studio co-curator

Megan’s work thrives at the intersection of making theatre and building community. As the Artistic Director for About Face Theatre she combines her love for directing, producing, and teaching. Prior to working with About Face in this role, Megan served as the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago and was one of the founders of About Face Youth Theatre. She is a certified mediator with the Center for Conflict Resolution, earned an MFA in Theatre with a focus on Directing and Public Dialogue from Virginia Tech, and a BA from Kalamazoo College, where her ideas about art and activism began to take shape. Recent Chicago directing credits include The Gulf, 20/20, and Time Is On Our Side (About Face), Winter, Grizzly Mama, Danielle Pinnock’s Body/Courage, American Wee Pie, and The Walls (Rivendell). Plays based on extended oral history projects including Women At War (Rivendell); Open Systems (Goodman Theatre); and Let Them Eat Cake (Dixon Place, NYC). Megan designed and teaches a Queer Theatre class for Columbia College Chicago and has been an adjunct instructor at DePaul University. Her work has been recognized with multiple After Dark Awards, the GLSEN Pathfinder Award, an APA Presidential Citation, induction into Chicago’s LGBT Hall of Fame, and a Rockefeller Foundation MAP Grant, among others.

Logan Jones (he/him): AFT Managing Director

Logan is a Chicago-based artist, administrator, and consultant. He has frequently collaborated with multiple theatre companies while utilizing his artistic and technical skills, organizational capabilities, and highly-collaborative working style. Logan has worked with Ensemble Consulting as Facilitator and Project Manager on various leadership transitions and organizational development projects since 2015. As a stage manager and production manager, he has helmed multiple productions for About Face Theatre, American Theater Company, The House Theatre of Chicago, Windy City Playhouse, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 13Exp, and the American Music Theatre Project, among others. Logan holds a BA in Theatre and BA in Modern Languages from Kansas State University, a certificate in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Workplace from University of South Florida, and is a graduate of the Axelson Center Bootcamp for Nonprofit CEOs at North Park University.

ABOUT FACE THEATRE advances LGBTQ+ equity through community building, education, and performance. AFT envisions an affirming and equitable world in which all LGBTQ+ individuals are thriving and free from prejudice and discrimination. About Face Theatre is also dedicated to being an intentionally and increasingly anti-racist organization. Due to the intersectionality of our identities, we understand our work to advance LGBTQ+ equity as directly connected to movements for racial justice.


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