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About Face Theatre Launches 25th Season With Online Short Play Festival KICKBACK

This program will stream December 12, 2020, through January 11, 2021.

About Face Theatre Launches 25th Season With Online Short Play Festival KICKBACK

About Face Theatre kicks off its landmark 25th season with KICKBACK, an online festival of newly commissioned short plays and performances by Black LGBTQ+ artists, inspired by the Rebuild Foundation's collections at the Stony Island Arts Bank. Conceived and directed by About Face Theatre Associate Artistic Director Mikael Burke, this performance series examines the intersection of queerness and Blackness in the present moment, inspired by the past, and looking toward the future. This program will stream December 12, 2020, through January 11, 2021.

For KICKBACK, About Face has commissioned a cohort of Black LGBTQ+ artists in Chicago to create original work inspired by Rebuild's extensive collections chronicling the diverse experiences of Black Americans. KICKBACK will feature the work of 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 r. young. These artists have been granted extensive access to Rebuild's archives and are using them to inspire original performance pieces.

Since the planning for KICKBACK began nearly a year ago, the swift escalation of events around COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact on Black people and communities in Chicago has expanded the project's scope and essence. Furthermore, the current global uprising in support of Black lives amplifies the need for ongoing resources and spaces for expressing joy, connection, and celebration of Black culture.

"For me, KICKBACK is about living our best lives, on no one's terms but our own," said KICKBACK director Mikael Burke (pictured - click on image to access file). "It's clear that white-supremacist-America wants us gone, and they want us quiet. We are being murdered in broad daylight, on streets, in parks, on sidewalks, in our homes, for having the audacity to draw breath and enjoy our time on this earth. But we refuse to be silenced. We are beautiful and complex and glorious. And we are out here living! So, let's turn the music up. Let's make a scene. Let's celebrate our queer black lives and honor our friends and loved ones who no longer can. Let's kickback."

KICKBACK is an innovative partnership between About Face Theatre and Rebuild Foundation, a non-profit platform for art, cultural development, and neighborhood transformation on the South Side of Chicago. The Stony Island Arts Bank at 6760 S. Stony Island Ave., is home to Rebuild Foundation's four major collections. Together, these archives offer a variety of insightful windows into African American art, history, and culture that will be the springboard for KICKBACK's art. The collections are:

The Johnson Publishing Archive, which houses more than 15,000 books, periodicals, furnishings, and ephemera, including the seminal EBONY and JET Magazines that have chronicled American Black life since 1945;

The Edward J. Williams Collection, consisting of over 4,000 objects of "negrobilia," mass cultural objects and artifacts that feature stereotypical images of black people as they were frequently depicted by white people;

The Frankie Knuckles Collection, the personal vinyl collection of the godfather of house music, which originated in Chicago in the 1980s;

The University of Chicago Glass Lantern Slides of over 60,000 slides of art and architectural history from the Paleolithic to Modern eras, which offer the perspective of over three million years of world history

KICKBACK will premiere through About Face Theatre's website and social media channels, and will be paired with exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews and documentation of the artists' process. 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.

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