About Face Theatre is pleased to announce its 2018-19 Season, featuring three groundbreaking productions including the world premiere of an original work.
The season kicks off this fall with the Chicago premiere of the poetic and political romance THIS BITTER EARTH by award winning playwright and McKnight Fellow Harrison David Rivers, directed by Mikael Burke, recipient of the 2017 Princess Grace Award in Theatre.
The 23nd season continues next winter with the Chicago premiere of DADA WOOF PAPA HOT, a sexy comedy about gay parenting and modern families from Peter Parnell (The Cider House Rules), directed by Jeff Award-nominated About Face Artistic Associate Keira Fromm.
For its 20th anniversary year, About Face Youth Theatre and AFT artists will create a citywide multigenerational performance and civic dialogue project to gather lessons from the past and mobilize for a better collective future with the world premiere of 20/20 led by AFT Artistic Director Megan Carney.
“This season we’re featuring dynamic LGBTQ+ artists who are leading the way forward”, comments AFT Artistic Director Megan Carney. “It has been a thrilling process charting out my first full season with About Face Theatre. The projects and collaborations for the year contain nuanced stories of complicated desire along and insightful revelations about the many ways that politics remain deeply personal. We’ll be highlighting underrepresented points of view while joyfully affirming our lives.”
AFT is also launching two public program initiatives to correspond with each production. Revolutionary Conversations will bring together community experts reflecting on themes in each play. AFT Up Close events will feature intimate conversations with company and guest artists.
The 23rd season will also include special projects, workshops and readings presented throughout the year featuring the work of AFT’s phenomenal Artistic Associates. The AFT Outreach Program will continue touring schools to create more inclusive and affirming learning environments. This program typically reaches over 5,000 students and teachers each year.
About Face Theatre is in residence at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago. AFT’s On Demand Memberships – a flexible, year-round membership ticket – are currently available at aboutfacetheatre.com. Single tickets for additional programming will go on sale at a later date.
About Face Theatre’s 2018-19 Season:
November 1 – December 8, 2018
THIS BITTER EARTH – Chicago Premiere!
By Harrison David Rivers
Directed by Mikael Burke
Thursday, November 8 at 7:30 pm
In this poetic romance, deep love is challenged by divisive political realities. Jesse, an introspective black playwright, finds his choices called into question when his boyfriend, Neil, a white Black Lives Matter activist, calls him out for his political apathy. As passions and priorities collide, this couple is forced to reckon with issues of race, class and the bravery it takes to love out loud.
Comments Director Mikael Burke, “This Bitter Earth is a beautiful and unflinching play about race and relationship in contemporary America – about the need for connection and the apparent differences that hold us back. Jesse is black, Neil is white, and against a backdrop of police shootings and Black Lives Matter rallies, this tale of interracial love and heartache asks us: How do we save one another in this tumultuous world? How do we save ourselves? How do we navigate love in a world with so much hate? What do we carry in order to survive that we must learn to let go of in order to live?
January 10 – February 16, 2019
DADA WOOF PAPA HOT – Chicago Premiere!
Written by Peter Parnell
Directed by AFT Artistic Associate Keira Fromm
Thursday, January 17 at 7:30 pm
This funny and sexy play introduces two gay couples and their circle of friends who have ventured into the world of modern day parenting. As friendships deepen and vulnerabilities get exposed, the foundation of family and commitment are shaken. With same sex marriage the law of the land… what happens next? DADA WOOF PAPA HOT is a fast-paced glimpse into the world of 21st century parenthood.
Comments Director Keira Fromm, “Dada Woof Papa Hot is a funny and moving play about the challenges of modern day marriage and parenting. It examines how parenting lives up to and defies expectations, how it collides with identity, and how it’s changes your life and the lives of your nearest and dearests in the process. I love that the play reaches into contemporary married life and examines its difficulties for straight and gay people alike. It's refreshing that it takes place today in the post-marriage-equality moment where gay relationships and parenting have been normalized in our culture. The way it explores the unique problems that the central gay couple encounters while raising their young daughter in the wake of marriage equality makes for incredibly potent and compelling theater.”
20/20 – World Premiere!
Created by AFT Artists with the Youth Theatre Ensemble
Directed by AFT Artistic Director Megan Carney
For its 20th anniversary year, About Face Youth Theatre goes to the next level with a citywide multigenerational performance and civic dialogue project to gather lessons from the past and envision a better collective future. Youth and adult artists will engage LGBTQ+ thought leaders and program alumni through interviews, workshops and story circles to explore markers of social change over the last two decades and mobilize a community in transition. Other lead artists include Associate Director of AFYT Donny Acosta, Associate Director of Outreach and Engagement Mia Vivens, AFT Artistic Associates and the AFYT Youth Ensemble. This project is engaging with Chicago’s diverse LGBTQ+ communities with specific partnerships to be announced soon.
Comments AFT Artistic Director Megan Carney, “AFYT has a special collaborative model for creating new plays that has gained a national reputation for the program. For the 20th anniversary, we are expanding the process to create mutigenerational spaces around the city, bringing youth and adult leaders together, and using the tools of the theatre in acts of collective imagination.”
About the Playwrights
Harrison David Rivers (The Bitter Earth, he/him/his) resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he was recently named one of City Pages’ Artists of the Year. His plays include: When Last We Flew (GLAAD Media Award, NYFringe Excellence in Playwriting Award, NYFringe), Sweet (AUDELCO nomination for Best Play, NBT), And She Would Stand Like This (20% Theatre Company, The Movement Theatre Company), Where Storms Are Born (Berkshire Theatre Award nomination for Best New Play, Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, Williamstown), A Crack in the Sky (History Theatre), Five Points (Theatre Latte Da) and This Bitter Earth (New Conservatory Theatre Center, Penumbra). Harrison has received McKnight and Many Voices Jerome Fellowships, a Van Lier Fellowship, an Emerging Artist of Color Fellowship and New York Stage & Film’s Founders’ Award. He was the 2016 Playwright-in-Residence at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Harrison is an alumni of the Public Theater's Emerging Writers' Group, Interstate 73, NAMT and The Lincoln Center Directors' Lab. He is a NYTW Usual Suspect and a Core Writer at the Playwrights’ Center where he is also a member of the Board of Directors. Harrison received his BA from Kenyon College and MFA from Columbia School of the Arts. www.harrisondavidrivers.com
Peter Parnell’s (Dada Woof Papa Hot, he/him/his) plays, including Sorrows of Stephen, The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, Romance Language, Hyde in Hollywood, Flaubert’s Latest and An Imaginary Life, have been produced by the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, the Mark Taper Forum, the Seattle Rep Theatre, the Old Globe and Center Stage in Baltimore, among others. His two-part stage adaptation of John Irving's The Cider House Rules won the American Theatre Critics Association Award, Ovation Awards, Joseph Jefferson Awards and Drama League nominations, and was produced at the Seattle Rep, the Taper, Trinity Repertory and the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York. His play QED was produced at the Taper and then on Broadway at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre. For television, he was a co-producer for The West Wing (NBC; two Emmy Award Citations, two Humanitas Awards), producer for The Guardian (CBS, GLAAD episode nomination), and Inconceivable (NBC). He has written television pilots for ABC and Fox. He has served on the Literary Award Committee in Playwriting for PEN, and been the recipient of Guggenheim, Ingram Merrill, NEA and Fund for New American Plays grants. He has taught playwriting at Dartmouth and at the New School, and television writing in the Columbia University Film Division. His children’s book, And Tango Makes Three, co-authored with Justin Richardson, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2005, and is an ALA Notable Book, a Henry Bergh Award winner and was nominated for a LAMBDA Literary Award as best children’s book of the year.
About The Directors
Mikael Burke (The Bitter Earth, he/him/his) is a Chicago-based director, deviser and educator. He serves as Creative Director of the Indianapolis-based Young Actors Theatre, and previously served as Associate Artistic Director of Indianapolis’ NoExit Performance. Michael is a 2017 Princess Grace Award Winner in Theatre and a recipient of the 2012 Robert D. Beckmann Emerging Artist Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. He has most recently worked with American Theatre Company, Strawdog Theatre Company and About Face Theatre in Chicago, and elsewhere with Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, GEVA Theatre Center in Rochester, New York and the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, to name a few. Michael received his MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago. Recent directing credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, Native Son by Richard Wright, adapted by Nambi E. Kelley, Stupid F##king Bird by Aaron Posner, Still by Jen Siverman, Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen and Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl.
Keira Fromm (Dada Woof Papa Hot, she/her/hers) is a Jeff Award-nominated director, casting director and teacher based in Chicago. Some favorite recent directing credits include: Bull in a China Shop (About Face Theatre), hang (Remy Bumppo), Significant Other (About Face Theatre), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City (Route 66 Theatre Company), Bright Half Life (About Face Theatre), The Columnist (American Blues Theater), How the World Began (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble), A Kid Like Jake (About Face), Luce (Next Theatre), Charles Ives Take Me Home (Strawdog), The How and the Why (TimeLine Theatre), Broadsword (Gift Theatre) and Fallow (Steep Theatre). Keira is a proud Artistic Associate with About Face Theatre. She received her MFA from DePaul University, her BFA from Boston University, is an alumna of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, and is a member of SDC, the professional directors union. Keira is a frequent guest director at DePaul, as well as Roosevelt University. She will be directing Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at TheatreSquared in Northwest Arkansas this fall.
Megan Carney (20/20, she/her/hers) is a director, playwright, educator and the Artistic Director of About Face Theatre. Carney’s work has been recognized with multiple After Dark Awards, the GLSEN Pathfinder Award, an APA Presidential Citation, induction in Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, a Rockefeller Foundation MAP Grant and a GLAAD Media Award nomination. Recent directing credits include Time is on Our Side, Stupid Kids (About Face) Winter, Grizzly Mama, BODY/COURAGE, American Wee Pie, The Walls (Rivendell). She was lead interviewer and playwright for Women at War, a multi-year performance and civic dialogue project about women in the military that continues to tour. Megan’s oral history collection and ensemble plays have addressed issues of identity and place making with premieres in Chicago and tours around the country. Megan was a founding director of About Face Youth Theatre and served as the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a certified mediator, earned a MFA with a focus on Directing and Public Dialogue from Virginia Tech and a BA from Kalamazoo College, where her ideas about art as a tool for social justice and activism began to take shape.
Donny Acosta (20/20, he/him/his) is a queer performance artist from Orange County, California. He started working with About Face as a youth ensemble member and a member of the Youth Task Force. He has devised and performed his work all over Chicago including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Stage 773, Chicago Actors Call to Action and Salonathon. He is a proud ensemble member of the Drinking and Writing Theatre and artistic associate of the Wild Atlas Theatre Company.
Mia Vivens (20/20, she/her/hers) is a queer poetess/mover/maker originally hailing from Columbus, Ohio. She is a recent alumna of Valparaiso University, having studied Theater and Dance. She is specifically interested in exploring the intersections of the queer community amongst black and brown folks. In Chicago, she has worked with American Theatre Company, Collaboraction, The Inconvenience and The Jades. Mia was recognized as one of the 2018 “30 under 30” leaders by Windy City Times.
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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