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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



About Face Theatre's 27th season to be produced at The Den Theatre beginning March
--From a press release

This article shared 1030 times since Thu Jul 29, 2021
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CHICAGO (July 27, 2021) — About Face Theatre is excited to announce its return to live, in-person theatre with its 27th season. Dedicated to telling queer stories that advance dialogue about gender and sexuality, AFT will produce a trio of new works that meet this moment of extraordinary change in our communities.

About Face's 2021-2022 season will begin in March of 2022 with the Chicago premiere of Samantha Mueller's new play LACED, directed by AFT Artistic Associate Lexi Saunders. LACED tells the story of how a queer community comes together after its local hangout is vandalized. Originally announced for the 2019-2020 season, About Face is proud to finally bring this energetic work to Chicago.

The season will continue with the Chicago premiere of THE MAGNOLIA BALLET, a haunting new play by Terry Guest about the secrets kept through multiple generations of a Black family in the American South. Developed in collaboration with Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis, THE MAGNOLIA BALLET will be workshopped in fall 2021 and receive a full production at About Face in May 2022, directed by AFT Associate Artistic Director Mikael Burke.

The season will conclude with an original production by the About Face Youth Theatre ensemble in the summer of 2022.

Beginning this season, About Face will present its performances at The Den Theatre in Wicker Park. AFT shows will appear in the 99-seat Bookspan Theatre, an adaptable blackbox space which will allow the company to continue to produce innovative new works in intimate and up-close stagings. Through its expansive programming, About Face Theatre's reach spans the entire city, and this new location will provide a more central destination for all of AFT's audiences, artists, and youth.

About Face Theatre will also continue its commitment to the Green Room Collective, a new program for early career LGBTQ+ arts leaders. Following in the footsteps of AFT's Youth Task Force, which created the popular KINSHIP, an all-ages variety show, the participants of the Green Room Collective will work closely with AFT staff and artists to create new projects aimed at engaging the queer community and its allies locally and nation-wide.

"There is no looking back; there is only moving toward what's next," says Artistic Director Megan Carney. "The season ahead honors the need to release the ties that bind in order to thrive. These magnificent and evocative plays introduce characters on the precipice of change, pushed forward by events outside of their control. Our organizational commitment to building a more equitable American theatre is driving everything we do at About Face. The work onstage next year reflects the same values of equity, care, and sustainability that we want to see offstage as well."



Written by Samantha Mueller

Directed by AFT Artistic Associate Lexi Saunders

March 17 - April 16, 2022 | Press opening: March 25, 2022

at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

Ticket information coming soon.

The night after a queer bar outside of Tampa, Florida, is vandalized, three twenty-something bartenders gather to grieve, riot, and above all, piece together the events of the night before. But as these three friends process the violation of their space, they must decide if it is healthier to understand what happened or to just clean up and move on. Fiery, poetic, and up-to-the-minute contemporary, LACED ferociously celebrates the spaces in which we find our truest selves and the many ways the LGBTQ community comes together in the face of hate.

"What struck me most about this play are these unapologetically queer femme identities we hardly ever get to see onstage," says director Lexi Saunders. "Sam Mueller has crafted a world full of laughter, heart, and muscle in the midst of absolute ruin. LACED is a poetic ode to Stonewall, to Pulse, to Berlin, to the places we make home and the strangers we call family. In a landscape that wants to only further politicize and vandalize our bodies, our love, our spaces — how can we keep ourselves and each other safe?"


A new play by Terry Guest

Directed by AFT Associate Artistic Director Mikael Burke

May 12 - June 11, 2022 | Press opening: May 20, 2022

at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

Ticket information coming soon.

Ezekiel is a Black teenager with a secret that threatens to destroy his already broken home. He's haunted by the ghosts of racism, homophobia, and toxic masculinity—the same ghosts that have plagued men in Georgia for generations, including his emotionally distant father. But when he discovers a trove of forbidden love letters among his late grandfather's belongings, Ezekiel begins to believe that the only way to fight these multi-generational ghosts is to burn everything to the ground. THE MAGNOLIA BALLET is a Southern Gothic fable that melds high drama, dance, poetry, and spectacle to explore masculinity, racism, and the love between a queer kid and his father.

This evocative new play will be workshopped in the fall of 2021 under the direction of AFT Associate Artistic Director Mikael Burke. Burke will direct a full production of THE MAGNOLIA BALLET at About Face in May 2022.

"As a queer Black man raised in the American south, this play is hugely important to me," says director Mikael Burke. "No young person should ever be made to feel the way I did, like they are wrong simply for existing. This play forces all of us to reckon with the legacies of toxic masculinity and racism in this country. It's a play that demands that we all wrestle with the ghosts of our prejudices and recognize where the rules we once set in order to survive have become the killers of a new generation."

Untitled About Face Youth Theatre Show

Created by and featuring the About Face Youth Theatre ensemble

June 18-25, 2022

at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

Ticket information coming soon.

The award-winning About Face Youth Theatre provides free training in devised theatre, lessons about social justice through history, and opportunities for leadership development and activism. Since it's inception in 2000, AFYT has provided a space for queer youth to learn, grow, make friends, and produce theatre that uplifts and supports other LGBTQ+ youth and allies. AFYT will begin its fall session in October 2021 with hybrid in-person and virtual workshops, culminating in an original, devised theatre production to be presented in person in June of 2022.


SAMANTHA MUELLER (she/they): LACED Playwright

Samantha is a Chicago-born, New York-based playwright. Her play THE WAY THIS CITY BLEEDS was a 2017 semi-finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, as well as a 2015 winner of the Agnes Nixon Playwriting Award. She is an artistic associate with the NYC theater collective G45 Productions and a proud graduate of Northwestern University, where she first began working with Seesaw Theatre to create pieces of theater for children with disabilities. She has published two articles about immersive theater on Howlround, including one about Seesaw's 2017 production.

LEXI SAUNDERS (she/they): LACED Director

Lexi is a queer director, writer, performer, and teaching artist originally from Los Angeles with a BA in Theatre from UC San Diego. She has been part of the About Face's touring Outreach Ensemble since 2015. Saunders' recent Chicago directing credits include EURYDICE (Jedlicka Performing Arts Center), MISSED OPPORTUNITIES (Cuckoo's Theatre Project), THE DEPARTURE (Haven Theatre), GROUNDED (Theater of Thought/Pride Arts), FIFTY SHADES OF SHAKESPEARE ((re)discover theatre), SUPER (Mudlark Theater), and various other workshops, readings, and short plays at The Gift, Victory Gardens, Chicago Dramatists, 2nd Story, Something Marvelous, and Pride Films & Plays. She currently teaches theatre with TimeLine Theatre, The Viola Project, 2nd Story, Mudlark Theater, Silk Road Rising, Camp Bravo, and Chicago Children Theatre's Red Kite Project.


Terry is a Chicago based playwright, actor and teaching artist. Most recently, his solo play A GHOST IN SATIN was commissioned as a part of The Williamstown Theatre festival's "Celebrating The Radical Black Imagination Solo Plays." Other plays include AT THE WAKE OF A DEAD DRAG QUEEN, THE MADNESS OF MARY TODD (2020/21 Goodman Playwrights Unit), THE MAGNOLIA BALLET (2021/22 Rolling World Premiere), MARIE ANTIONETTE AND THE MAGICAL NEGROS, and MICHAEL JACKSON AND THE DEVIL'S BOOK.


Mikael is a Chicago-based director and educator, and About Face Theatre's Associate Artistic Director. A Princess Grace Award-winner in Theatre and Jeff Award-nominated director, Mikael's most recently worked with Victory Gardens Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Jackalope Theatre Company, Windy City Playhouse, About Face Theatre, First Floor Theater, American Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists, and The Story Theatre in Chicago, and regionally with Indiana Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, and Phoenix Theatre. In addition to his work with AFT, Mikael serves as Head of the Directing Concentration of the Summer High School Training Program of the Theatre School at DePaul University, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member. He is also an adjunct faculty member of the Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Previously, Mikael served as Associate Artistic Director of NoExit Performance in Indianapolis, IN, and was the Creative Director for Young Actors Theatre, also in Indianapolis. For About Face, he has directed KICKBACK, an all-virtual play festival, and THIS BITTER EARTH. Other recent directing credits include THE AGITATORS by Mat Smart; SUGAR IN OUR WOUNDS by Donja R. Love; AT THE WAKE OF A DEAD DRAG QUEEN by Terry Guest.

ABOUT FACE THEATRE creates exceptional, innovative, and adventurous theatre and educational programming that advances the national dialogue on sexual and gender identity, and challenges and entertains audiences in Chicago and beyond.

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