About Face Theatre Announces New Artistic Associates

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About Face Theatre Announces New Artistic Associates

About Face Theatre announces the addition of five new artists to the company's roster of Artistic Associates. Along with Artistic Director Megan Carney, the Artistic Associates represent the company's core artistic community whose creative focus helps shape About Face Theatre's theatrical productions and outreach. AFT's new Artistic Associates in 2019 are Sheldon Brown (actor, This Bitter Earth), Mikael Burke (director, This Bitter Earth), Armand Fields (former performer, AFT's Outreach Tour), Delia Kropp (actor, I Am My Own Wife) and Lexi Saunders (Director, Power in Pride).

"It's a true pleasure to welcome these artists to the About Face family," says Artistic Director Megan Carney. "The Artistic Associates are very important contributors to how we interpret our mission to advance the national dialogue on sexual and gender identity. Each of these artists brings a singular voice and incredible set of collaborative skills to these efforts. I know that, together, we'll continue to create powerful events and tell brave stories that can help transform our communities."

Sheldon Brown (he/him/his) is a 2014 graduate of Acting at Emerson College in Boston. He has previously worked with About Face Theatre in This Bitter Earth and Time Is On Our Side (understudy). Other credits include The Shipment at Red Tape Theatre, 1980 or Why I Voted for John Anderson at Jackalope Theatre, A Wonder in My Soul at Victory Gardens, Man in the Ring at Court Theatre and more. He also has numerous credits in Boston, including The Grand Inquisitor, directed by Peter Brook, and The Shakespearean Jazz Show, a collaborative new work combining Shakespeare & New Orleans jazz. Sheldon is also co-curator of Front Room Poetry, a monthly open mic series which fill intimate spaces around the city with personal stories & soul bearing.

Mikael Burke (he/him/his) is a Jeff Award-nominated director, deviser and educator. A Princess Grace Award-winner in theatre and graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University (MFA Directing), Mikael most recently directed About Face Theatre's This Bitter Earth by Harrison David Rivers. He has also worked with Victory Gardens Theater, Northlight Theatre, Jackalope Theatre Company, American Theater Company, Chicago Dramatists and The Story Theatre in Chicago, and regionally with Asolo Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center and Indiana Repertory Theatre. He is a former Victory Gardens Theater Director's Inclusion Initiative Fellow and recently served as Northlight Theatre's inaugural Artistic Fellow. He also serves as Head of the Directing Concentration of the Summer High School Training Program of the Theatre School at DePaul University, is an adjunct faculty member of the Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and a faculty member in the Theatre division of the National High School Institute (Cherubs) at Northwestern University. Recent directing credits include At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen by Terry Guest, Beauty and the Beast by Lucy Kirkwood and Katie Mitchell, Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm and Native Son by Richard Wright, adapted by Nambi E. Kelley.

Armand Fields (they/them/theirs) had the honor of originating the role of Jonelle in Philip Dawkins' Charm, and then reprised it in the West Coast Premiere in Los Angeles atCelebration Theatre. Their onscreen credits include TruTV's You Can Do Better, Chicago Fire, The Chi and Work in Progress, which will be released later this year on Showtime. They have performed regionally at Northlight Theatre,

Milwaukee Rep Theater and Steppenwolf. Their drag persona is Cleo Pockalipps, which they have performed as in numerous nightclubs and bars, and have produced and hosted shows such as Dinner Party at a Drag Queen's House and Drama Queens. Cleo also holds the title of "Miss Serenity 2017," a sober drag beauty pageant, as wellas Roscoe's Drag Race Winner 2018. They attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where they studied Fashion Design and Performance Art, the Second City Conservatory program and the School at Steppenwolf. One of the many future projects Armand is looking forward to is their web series Down, a dark comedy that tells the story of an insecure drag queen in their late 20's struggling to find love, success and eventually sobriety.

Delia Kropp (she/her/hers) has been acting professionally for more than 40 years, making history as the first transgender actress to portray Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf in Doug Wright's Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play I Am My Own Wife. Other recent Chicago performances include roles in Raggedy And by David Valdes Greenwood, and the musical The Civility of Albert Cashier by Jay Paul Deratany. She recently directed a reading of Paul Lucas' Trans Scripts as part of Transgender Awareness Week observances, and recently starred in the independent film Landlocked. Beyond theatres and camera locations, Delia is a proud advocate who writes and speaks on behalf of trans persons. She serves as admin for the Trans Actors Guild, the world's largest online 'safe space' for gender nonconforming performing artists. Delia was a 2018 recipient of AFT's Leppen Leadership Award for services to the LGBT community. www.therealdelia.com

Lexi Saunders (she/her/hers) 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 About Face's touring Outreach Ensemble since 2015, as an actor in It's For Real and Looking Out/Looking In and currently as director and stage manager of Power in Pride. Lexi's recent Chicago directing credits include Eurydice (Jedlicka PAC), Missed Opportunities (Cuckoo's Theatre Project), The Departure (Haven), Grounded (Theater of Thought), Fifty Shades of Shakespeare ((re)discover), SUPER (Mudlark) and other works at The Gift, 2nd Story and Chicago Dramatists. She has assistant directed at Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Steep, Jackalope and La Jolla Playhouse, and was selected for the 2017 Directors Haven and 2016 VG Directors Inclusion Initiative. Lexi has also performed her own stories and poetry at 2nd Story, Salonathon and other venues. She currently teaches with TimeLine, Viola Project, Mudlark, Silk Road Rising, Camp Bravo and CCT's Red Kite Project. In both her art and teaching practice, Lexi is passionate about exploring issues of gender and sexuality, and lifting voices of marginalized communities by building collaboration, vulnerability, empathy, imagination and empowerment.

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.

PHOTO CREDIT: About Face Theatre's new Artistic Associates include (left to right) Sheldon Brown, Mikael Burke, Armand Fields, Delia Kropp and Lexi Saunders.

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