CHICAGO About Face Theatre is excited to announce plans for its landmark 25th anniversary season. Featuring new and original works, the company will focus on using digital streaming and online tools for most of the year. The season will begin with an extensive partnership with Rebuild Foundation highlighting original commissioned performances from Black LGBTQ+ artists and will conclude with the production of a new play highlighting the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community in the face of hatred. The company will also offer robust online programs and education workshops throughout the year.
About Face's 2020-2021 season will begin on Dec. 11 with KICKBACK, a virtual festival of short plays and performances conceived and directed by AFT Associate Artistic Director Mikael Burke and featuring About Face Artistic Associate Paul Oakley Stovall, Robert Cornelius, Michael Turrentine, Ben Locke, Dionne Addai, Vic Wynter, Ky Baity, Keyonna Jackson, Cori Wash, ShaZa ( a collaboration between Zahra Baker and Shanta Nurullah ), and Rebuild Foundation resident artists Jenn Freeman and Avery Young. KICKBACK is a joint project with Rebuild Foundation, a non-profit platform for cultural development and neighborhood transformation that supports artists and strengthens communities by providing free arts programming and creating new cultural amenities. For KICKBACK, About Face has commissioned a cohort of Black LGBTQ+ artists in Chicago to create original work inspired by Rebuild's extensive collections at the Stony island Arts Bank chronicling the diverse experiences of Black Americans. These artists have been granted extensive access to Rebuild's archives and are using them to inspire original performance pieces. KICKBACK will premiere online on December 11 and will be available to stream throughout the 2020-21 season
The About Face Theatre season will also include AFT's previously-postponed production of LACED by Samantha Mueller and directed by Lexi Saunders. Set in the aftermath of the vandalism of a beloved queer bar, and featuring a trio of young queer friends, LACED is a timely examination of how we create and protect life-affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ people to fully thrive. The original creative team has been retained for this production in 2021. If public health circumstances permit, this will be a fully staged, in-person production, as originally planned. Dates and venue are to be determined.
Throughout the year, the company will also offer robust online programs. In the summer of 2020, AFT's touring production of POWER IN PRIDE was adapted into an online video series titled POWER IN PRIDE AT HOME. The project features a combination of short original performances and longer conversations among the cast members focused on themes of LGBTQ history, race, and pride in identity. The series will remain available for free viewing on the AFT website throughout the season.
"I'm deeply inspired by the remarkable artists and projects in our 25th anniversary season", said Megan Carney, AFT's Artistic Director. "Our mission to advance dialogue about gender and sexuality takes many forms and we are constantly evolving. By creating new work online and in person, these bold storytellers are not only reflecting the times, they are expanding the reach of everything we do as theatre makers."
Understanding that the ability to come together for in-person events is uncertain at this point in time, About Face remains committed to the safety and care of both its artists and community. The company's producing models are being constantly updated to remain agile and adaptable to the changing arts landscape while also delivering the impact and passion audiences have come to expect.
ABOUT FACE THEATRE'S 2020-2021 SEASON
Conceived and directed by AFT Associate Artistic Director Mikael Burke
Debuting online December 11, 2020, available to stream throughout the 2020-21 season.
KICKBACK is a virtual festival of original plays and performances highlighting the intersection of queerness and Blackness. About Face Theatre has commissioned a cohort of Black LGBTQ+ artists to create new works in conversation with Rebuild Foundation's extensive collection of African-American art and cultural artifacts. This bold online performance series will be an unapologetic celebration of Black lives now and through the ages.
Led by AFT Associate Artistic Director Mikael Burke, the artists involved in the project include About Face Artistic Associate Paul Oakley Stovall, Robert Cornelius, Michael Turrentine, Ben Locke, Dionne Addai, Vic Wynter, Ky Baity, Keyonna Jackson, Cori Wash, ShaZa ( a collaboration between Zahra Baker and Shanta Nurullah ), and Rebuild Foundation resident artists Jenn Freeman and Avery Young. This project serves as part of Rebuild Foundation's year-long initiative to raise awareness and provide resources and sanctuary for marginalized communities impacted by the HIV/AIDS crisis, made possible by funding that Rebuild received from the 2018 ( RED ) Auction.
POWER IN PRIDE AT HOME
Written and performed by Aimy Tien, Angelica Grace,, Dionne Addai, Nico Quinn, and Vic Wynter.
Directed by Lexi Saunders
About Face Theatre's touring production Power in Pride uses humorous and brave stories about gender and sexuality to spark conversations with students, educators, and community members of all ages. Written and performed by artists of color about their true life experiences, this play explores their dreams for the future and how understanding the role of LGBTQ+ people in history can change your life. The POWER IN PRIDE AT HOME video series adapted from the live show can be paired with virtual talkbacks and Q&As for area schools and organizations. For more information on these and other education programs, visit aboutfacetheatre.com/education
Written by Samantha Mueller
Directed by AFT Artistic Associate Lexi Saunders
Dates and Location TBA
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 spectrum of ways the LGBTQ community comes together in the face of hate.
EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Additionally, About Face Theatre continues to produce nationally-recognized educational programming. About Face Youth Theatre is the company's award-winning program providing rigorous training in devised theatre, lessons about social justice through history, and opportunities for leadership development and activism. AFYT will begin its fall session in October with virtual workshops focusing on the creation of solo performance pieces, led by teaching artist Breon Arzell.