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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



About Face Theatre's 29th Season opens with LGBTQ+ theatre stars in a three-week queer theatre workshop
--From a press release

This article shared 1795 times since Thu Oct 26, 2023
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CHICAGO (October 26, 2023) — About Face Theatre's Re/Generation Studio workshop series returns to kick off the company's 2023-2024 season from November 30 through December 16, 2023 at The Den Theatre. Re/Generation Studio will include three full weekends of readings, performances, meetups, and workshops featuring up-and-coming LGBTQ+ theatre artists from Chicago and around the country. Each weekend will feature a reading of a new play paired with audience activities to help bring the world of the play to life. Workshop topics will include playwriting, directing, community building, drag, and self-care, along with youth meetups for theatre-loving emerging creatives looking for a queer-friendly space to connect and share.

All events and workshops are free and open to the public. Attendees can register through About Face Theatre's website,, or in-person at the event. Early registration is encouraged as some events may reach capacity.

Director Mikael Burke and casting director Catherine Miller are serving as the artistic producers of the series, while AFT Artistic Director Megan Carney and Green Room Collective member Pen Wilder co-curated the play readings. Workshops and meetups will be led by Megan Carney; Mikael Burke; playwright/performers Terry Guest, Omer Abbas Salem, and Will Wilhelm; performer and intimacy choreographer Courtney Abbott; drag performer Quyen Tran, and AFT Education Manager Dionne Addai. The series will feature plays by August Forman, Liz Haas, and Emilio Williams.

"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 last year's workshops as an artist, a playwright, and a person was 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 what this season's Re/Generation Studio holds."

About Face first premiered Re/Generation Studio in February 2023. It was envisioned as a space for reconnecting and re-imagining after the social and creative isolation of the pandemic. The first iteration of Re/Generation Studio included five play readings and workshops, featuring a wide variety of playwrights, directors, actors, and audience members. The overwhelmingly positive response to these workshops proved that Chicago's creative communities are eager for a chance to rebuild community bonds and engage in collective dreaming and creating.

About Face Theatre has a long history of building community and engaging with our audiences through touring shows, educational workshops, and play readings. AFT's education programs first started in 1999 with About Face Youth Theatre. Re/Generation Studio is part of the company's continuing evolution to respond to the needs of its community to advance LGBTQ+ equity.


Re/Generation Studio

An intergenerational workshop series building the future of queer theatre

November 30 — December 16, 2023

at The Den Theatre, 1331 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

All workshops are free and open to the public. Registration is now open at


Weekend One (Nov 30 — Dec 2)

Thursday, Nov 30 @ 5:30pm

Re/Generation Studio Opening Community Circle

Kick off Re/Generation Studio in style! AFT Artistic Director Megan Carney and Re/Generation Studio Artistic Producer Catherine Miller will present their thoughts on building community and charting the future of queer theatre. Meet series artists and other Chicago theatre creatives in an informal setting before workshops and events begin. Refreshments will be provided!

Thursday, Nov 30 @ 7:00pm

"Intimacy Skills for Rehearsal & Performance" w/ Courtney Abbott

Wondering what questions to ask when an audition call says there will be nudity in the show? Looking to build confidence in performing intimate material? In this workshop for performers, intimacy choreographer Courtney Abbott will offer exercises and facilitated discussion for actors who want to learn more about performing intimacy, along with techniques for maintaining and repairing personal boundaries through auditions, rehearsals, and the performance run.

Friday, Dec 1 @ 5:30pm

S.L.A.Y. (Space for Leaders and Artistic Youth) w/ Dionne Addai

Community building mixer with ice breaker games and discussion about intergenerational conversations + adultism. Snacks included!

Friday, Dec 1 @ 7:00pm

New Play Reading Workshop: Yūgen by Emilio Williams

In Yūgen, Dan is a middle-aged-cis-white-queen teaching theater studies at an elite university in Chicago. Karin is his non-binary, Asian grad student. And Vanessa is the Black diversity, inclusion and equity officer caught in the crossfire between these two bigger than life queer folx. Can the discord among queer activists be sublimated by humor and a timeless aesthetic reconciliation? Join us for a highly interactive reading and workshop for this new play which explores the beauty and frustration of intergenerational queer dynamics.

Saturday, Dec 2 @ 11:00am

"Level Up: Skill Building for Emerging Creatives" w/ Megan Carney & Dionne Addai

Part 1: That Hits Different. An introduction to creative and dynamic staging for directors and performers.

Saturday, Dec 2 @ 3:00pm

"Shaping Your Story: An Intro to Creating a Solo Show" w/ Will Wilhelm

All the world's a stage, and you're the only one on it! Join Will Wilhelm, co-creator and performer of Gender Play, or what you Will, for a hands-on workshop where participants will explore creating solo work. We'll investigate storytelling elements such as relationship with the audience, utilizing archetypes to create character, and finding the universal through the personal. Come prepared with an anecdote to share from your own life or an existing story you'd like to retell through your own lens.

Weekend Two (Dec 7—9)

Thursday, Dec 7 @ 5:30pm

S.L.A.Y. (Space for Leaders and Artistic Youth)

Games and discussion about Gender identity, Gender expression, and the relevance of labels. Snacks included!

Thursday, Dec 7 @ 7:00pm

"Transformation: Finding Your Drag Persona" Performance & Workshop w/ Quyen Tran

Quyen draws on her life experiences as a Vietnamese refugee to create her drag king alter ego, Jayden Jamison. Over the past 18 years, Jayden has performed nationally and internationally; earned a national title as Mr. Gay United States Male Illusionist 2016; created a drag documentary Kings, Queens and In Betweens; and has taught over 56 new drag kings through his drag king workshops. Jayden's performances connect the themes of intersectionality, racism, masculinity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. This combined performance and workshop is a crash course for any beginner king who wants to not just be happy being on stage but being the headliner. The evening will deconstruct what masculinity means in today's mainstream and help participants explore how their own persona would manifest through drag.

Friday, Dec 8 @ 7:00pm

New Play Reading Workshop: Why Are Graham Crackers Hard? by August Forman

In Why Are Graham Crackers Hard?, Ryan finds herself out of work, homeless, and crashing with her childhood friend Becca. When Ryan's sister Anne brings her nieces to town for an unexpected visit, Becca comes along for the ride and in the midst of the chaos, reveals her affections for Ryan. Affections everyone else has known for years... except for Ryan. As their worlds continue to spiral out of control and Anne decides to leave her daughters for good, Ryan must come to terms with her choices and become the adult she never planned to be. Join us for this highly interactive play reading and workshop exploring the world of this new work.

Saturday, Dec 9 @ 11:00am

"Level Up: Skill Building for Emerging Creatives" w/ Megan Carney & Dionne Addai

Part 2: Building Care into Action. Participants learn how to mindfully create work containing sensitive content.

Saturday, Dec 9 @ 3:00pm

"DnD: Directors in Development!" w/ Mikael Burke

Directing new plays is one of the best ways for emerging directors to make connections, gain exposure, and practice their craft, but before any new play is ready for an audience, it goes through a development process. From responding to early drafts to rehearsing readings and workshops, the director's role in the development process is unique, and this workshop aims to give emerging directors the tools to be effective collaborators in this work. You will learn strategies for setting workshop goals, how to best engage with the work and facilitate feedback, and how to organize and direct a successful play reading, all while serving as the champion and shepherd of your playwright and their work.

Weekend Three (Dec 14—16)

Thursday, Dec 14 @ 5:30pm

Re/Generation Studio Closing Community Circle

Gather with About Face Theatre and Re/Generation Studio leadership and artists to compare notes from the previous weeks and look to the future of queer theatre. Mingle with series artists and other Chicago theatre creatives in an informal setting to discuss what we've discovered through this workshop series. Refreshments will be provided!

Thursday, Dec 14 @ 7:00pm

"Writing for the Me in You" w/ Terry Guest & Omer Abbas Salem

Want to learn about writing for oneself from two of the most self-absorbed playwrights in Chicago? This is the workshop for you! We'll have two sessions of presenting work, receiving feedback, and asking questions. This is not a class for offering opinions but one for sharing art, sharing supportive thoughts, and leaving with a better idea of where you'd like to go.

Friday, Dec 15 @ 5:30pm

S.L.A.Y. (Space for Leaders and Artistic Youth)

Finding your artistic soul mate aka matching making for potential creative collaborators. Snacks included!

Friday, Dec 15 @ 7:00pm

New Play Reading Workshop: A Home Education by Liz Haas

In A Home Education, two homeschooled teenage girls in the early 2010s try to navigate their newfound relationship with each other and with themselves. Join us for this highly interactive play reading and workshop exploring the world of this new work.

Saturday, Dec 16 @ 11:00am

"Level Up: Skill Building for Emerging Creatives" w/ Megan Carney & Dionne Addai

Part 3: Activism & Theatre. Participants learn how devising can be used to address cultural issues and shape contemporary storytelling.

Thursday, Dec 16 @ 3:00pm

"Writing for the Me in You" w/ Terry Guest & Omer Abbas Salem

Want to learn about writing for oneself from two of the most self-absorbed playwrights in Chicago? This is the workshop for you! We'll have two sessions of presenting work, receiving feedback, and asking questions. This is not a class for offering opinions but one for sharing art, sharing supportive thoughts, and leaving with a better idea of where you'd like to go.


Courtney Abbott (they/she), teaching artist

Courtney Abbott loves to talk about touching. Courtney works as an Intimacy Professional, actor, and director. They are a stakeholder in the Back Room Shakespeare Project. Her work directing Intimacy and Fights has spanned this beautiful city, from Garfield Park to Glencoe, and from the Morton Arboretum to Navy Pier. Courtney is passionate about non-violent communication, and making our industry and this nation safer for Queer & NB2ST folx of all ages.

Dionne Addai (they/she), AFT Education Manager, teaching artist

Dionne is a performer, writer, director, and teaching artist local to Chicago. They're a passionate advocate for reproductive rights, racial justice, and free comprehensive sex education. Their artistic practice centers on educating in order to encourage sociopolitical action and mutual aid. As a performer, Dionne has multiple on-camera credits and has worked with over 20 renowned theatre companies in the US (Merrimack Repertory, Raven Theatre, Filament Theatre; etc). She's worked with AFT previously as an actor, director, and writer (KICKBACK, Power in Pride, Re/Generation Studio).

Mikael Burke (he/him): Re/Generation Studio artistic producer & teaching artist

Mikael Burke is a Chicago-based director and educator and served as Associate Artistic Director with About Face from 2020 through 2022. A Princess Grace Award-winner in Theatre and Jeff Award-nominated director, Mikael's worked with Goodman Theatre, About Face Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Raven Theatre, Jackalope Theatre Company, First Floor Theater, American Theatre Company, Chicago Dramatists, The Story Theatre, and Windy City Playhouse in Chicago, and regionally with Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Phoenix Theatre Indianapolis. Recent credits include the American premiere of Routes by Rachel De-Lahay, The Wanderers by Anna Ziegler, Shakespeare's Richard III, The Magnolia Ballet by Terry Guest (2022 Jeff Award Winner — Production, Short Run); Fireflies by Donja R. Love (Black Theatre Alliance Award — Best Direction of an Ensemble).

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

Megan Carney is the Artistic Director of About Face Theater, a company dedicated to advancing LGBTQ+ equity through community building, education, and performance. Her work as a director, deviser, and educator is recognized with theatre industry awards, the GLSEN Pathfinder Award, APA Presidential Citation, and induction in Chicago's LGBT Hall of Fame. She directed the world premieres of Danielle Pinnock's Body Courage and Lisa Dillman's The Walls with Rivendell Ensemble, among other notable productions. Megan has an MFA in Theatre Arts from Virginia Tech with a focus on Directing and Public Dialogue. She served as the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at UIC where she created and produced cultural programming and advanced affirming policies. Megan continues to teach in a variety of settings and has volunteered with the Chicago Foundation for Women's LGBT Giving Council, the Chicago Restroom Access Project of Pride Action Tank, and other queer organizations.

August Forman (they/them), playwright

August Forman is an actor, playwright, educator, and trans advocate based in

Chicago, IL. They received their BFA in Acting from Minnesota State University of Mankato in 2014. Favorite performance credits include: Tiny Beautiful Things (Victory Gardens Theater; Rutherford And Son (TimeLine Theatre); Girl In The Red Corner (Broken Nose Theatre; Joseph Jefferson Award for Supporting Actor); Twelfth Night (Midsommer Flight); The Lady Demands Satisfaction (Babes with Blades); A Kind Of Weather (Diversionary Theatre); Plot Points In Our Sexual Development (Diversionary Theatre, cancelled due to COVID19); and Les Innocents ((re)discover theatre). August is a Core Ensemble Member and Facilitator with Imagination Theater, a touring company addressing social issues with young people. They are an Artistic Associate with Oak Park Festival Theatre. August's plays have premiered throughout Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and California. They are represented by Gray Talent Group.

Terry Guest (he/him): teaching artist

Terry Guest is a Chicago-based playwright, actor, and teaching artist. He wrote and starred in The Magnolia Ballet at About Face, which won Jeff Awards for Short Run Production and Principle Performer. He also wrote At The Wake Of A Dead Drag Queen, which was the recipient of the 2018 Out Front Spectrum Series Grant and had its World Premiere in Chicago at The Story Theatre. Other work includes: A Ghost In Satin (The Williamstown Theatre Festival), Marie Antionette And The Magical Negros (The Story Theatre), The Madness Of Mary Todd (Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit Commission), Michael Jackson And The Devil's Book (Jackalope) and Andy Warhol Presents: The Cocaine Play.

Liz Haas (they/them, she/her), playwright

Liz is a queer, multiracial playwright of Taiwanese, Chinese, and German descent based in the Chicago area. Liz is deeply invested in building community with people who experience intersecting oppressions and uplifting their narratives. Liz was in the devising ensemble for Still/Here at Free Street Theater in 2019 and is a member of the Western Massachusetts-based collective Theater Between Addresses. Liz holds a bachelor of arts in history from Smith College, where they also spent a great deal of time in the theater department in a variety of roles on- and off-stage. Outside of the theater, Liz can be found writing grants to support voting rights, reading speculative fiction, and spending far too much time on deckbuilding games.

Catherine Miller (they/them): Re/Generation Studio artistic producer

Dramaturgy credits include: Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins '21 and '22 (Strawdog Theatre), Fun Home, Hand to God, Kinky Boots (Paramount Theatre), The Wolves (Actors Theatre of Louisville/ACLU fundraiser), House of Audacity (First Floor Theater), Love in the Time of Jonestown, Untitled Queer Romance (The New Coordinates), the West Coast Premiere of [Title of Show] (Diversionary Theatre), Assassins, Sweeney Todd & The History Boys (Cygnet Theatre), Passion (Ion Theatre), Breath Boom, Our Lady of 121st Street (Eclipse Theatre). Catherine also works in casting with many theatres around Chicago, including About Face Theatre. Catherine was a 2021 3Arts Make A Wave recipient and was recently featured in American Theatre Magazine's Role Call. They also were on NewCity Magazine's 2020 + 2019 Players: The Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago and the Windy City Times' 30 Under 30 list. Catherine has a BFA in Dramaturgy/Criticism from The Theatre School at DePaul.

Omer Abbas Salem (he/they): teaching artist

Omer Abbas Salem is a Chicago actor and playwright. As an actor, he's worked with Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, The New Coordinates, Jackalope Theatre, Steep Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Griffin Theatre, The House, Bailiwick Chicago, Actors Theatre of Louisville, St. Louis Rep, Roundabout Theater, and The Atlantic Theater. As a playwright, his work has been developed and produced at Steppenwolf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, First Floor Theater, DePaul University, National Queer Theater, Definition Theatre, About Face Theater, and The New Coordinates. He is the winner of Steppenwolf's SCOUT Development Project (20/21), Definition Theatre's Amplify Commission (20/21), Goodman Theatre's Future Labs Development (21), The Cunningham Commission at DePaul Theatre School (21/22), Goodman Theatre's Playwrights Unit (21/22) and First Floor Theater's Blueprint Commission (21/22). He was an apprentice of the Actors Theatre of Louisville (17/18) and is also a proud ensemble member with Jackalope Theatre, Steep Theatre, First Floor Theater, and The New Coordinates. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and the University of Chicago. During the day, he's a Client Strategist in new-tech. Abbas is represented by DDO Artist Agency and The Gersh Agency. .

Quyen Tran (she/her), performer & teaching artist

Quyen Tran is a Vietnamese refugee who has been regaling audiences for the last 18+ years as her drag king alter ego, Jayden Jamison. Jayden has performed nationally, internationally, earned a national title as Mr. Gay United States Male Illusionist 2016, has a drag documentary Kings, Queens and In Betweens and has taught over 56 new drag kings through his drag king workshops. Quyen's drag numbers are influenced by a life impacted by racism, homophobia, parental death and intersectionality. It is these elements that Quyen brings to stage that illustrates the greater life experiences of those in the queer community.

Theo Wampuszyc (he/they), AFT Green Room Collective, stage manager

An alumnus of AFYT, Theo is a trans-masc performer and theatre artist. By day, he works as a company clown for Vaudeville Chicago, a nonprofit that brings music, comedy, and circus entertainment to senior living facilities with a focus on dementia and memory care. By night, he performs as a queer standup, an actor, and a novice drag king. They are in love with the theatre both on stage and off, working not only in performance but also in production, a skill they've been able to hone during their time in About Face's Green Room Collective.

Pen Wilder (they/them): AFT Green Room Collective, Re/Generation Studio co-curator & series dramaturg

Pen Wilder is a writer, dramaturg, musician, and teaching artist based in Chicago. Their work has been seen in publications Apple News, Mulberry Literary, The Chillfiltr Review, Nebo Literary Journal, and more.

Will Wilhelm (they/them): teaching artist

Will is a Chicago-based actor, writer, and educator. They premiered Gender Play, or what you Will at About Face Theatre earlier this year, which received Jeff Award nominations for Best New Work and Best Solo Performance. Select Chicago credits also include Mr. Burns (Theater Wit), Straight White Men (Steppenwolf Theatre), Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (Goodman Theatre), and My Wonderful Birthday Suit (Chicago Children's Theatre). Regional credits include Rent (Portland Center Stage); Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (Shakespeare Theatre Company); and Oklahoma!, As You Like It, and Macbeth (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), where they were the first openly non-binary company member in the festival's history. With Erin Murray, they are also the co-creator and host of the video podcast series Teacakes & Tarot, produced by Island Shakespeare Festival in association with HowlRound Theatre Commons. A proud Northwestern graduate, Will is represented by Gray Talent Group. Gender Play marks their playwriting debut!

Emilio Williams (he/him), playwright

Emilio Williams is a bilingual award-winning writer and educator. Emilio's latest world premiere is an adaptation of Federico García Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, produced by Teatro Vista and currently being performed at Steppenwolf 1700. His other critically acclaimed plays have been produced in Argentina, Estonia, France, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. His experimental queer essays have appeared most recently in JBMCS, Brevity Magazine, Writing Disorder, Hinterland Magazine, Imagined Theatres, and the anthology Beyond Queer Words 2021. He teaches at The Theater School at DePaul University and at Columbia College Chicago. Emilio holds an MFA in Writing.

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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