PerformInk is Chicago's entertainment industry trade publication.
Pictured: Harrison David Rivers | Richard Dodds
About Face Theatre has announced its 23rd season, kicking off this fall with the Chicago premiere of the political romance THIS BITTER EARTH by Harrison David Rivers, directed by Mikael Burke, recipient of the 2017 Princess Grace Award in Theatre.
The 2018-2019 season continues with the Chicago premiere of DADA WOOF PAPA HOT, a comedy about gay parenting and modern families from Peter Parnell (THE CIDER HO– USE RULES), directed by 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 Artistic Director Megan Carney.
“This season we’re featuring dynamic LGBTQ+ artists who are leading the way forward,” said 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.”
The company is also launching two public initiatives to correspond with each production. “Revolutionary Conversations” will bring together community experts to reflect on themes in each play. “AFT Up Close” events will feature conversations with the artists involved in productions.
About Face Theatre is in residence at Theater Wit. More info is available at aboutfacetheatre.com.
About Face Theatre’s 2018-19 Season (from the press release):
November 1 – December 8, 2018
THIS BITTER EARTH – Chicago Premiere
By Harrison David Rivers
Directed by Mikael Burke
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 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 multigenerational spaces around the city, bringing youth and adult leaders together, and using the tools of the theatre in acts of collective imagination.”