About Face Theatre Presents World Premiere of GENDER PLAY

Performances run May 4 - June 3, 2023.

By: Mar. 29, 2023
About Face Theatre Presents World Premiere of GENDER PLAY

About Face Theatre concludes its 28th season with the world premiere of Gender Play, or what you Will by WIll Wilhelm and Erin Murray, performing May 4 through June 3, 2023, at The Den Theatre. In this magical one-person show, Will recreates a seance to summon the spirit of William Shakespeare, and together the two Wills explore Shakespeare's stories and characters through a queer lens. Gender Play, or what you Will is an exuberant celebration of queer joy rooted in over 400 years of LGBTQ literary history. The play was workshopped and received an initial public performance at About Face Theatre in November 2021, and received additional development support from Island Shakespeare Festival, Northwestern University, and the Arts Midwest's Grow, Invest, Gather Fund.

Tickets are on sale now online at AboutFaceTheatre.com, by calling 773.697.3830, or in-person at The Den Theatre box office. Ticket prices range from $5 to $35.

AFT offers a ticket pricing system that allows each patron to decide the price that they can comfortably afford to pay for a ticket. Ultimately, About Face wants everyone who wants to attend a show to be able to do so. Please note, there are limited quantities available at each pricing level.


Will is a trans actor seeking to belong and feeling frustrated at not seeing their story reflected onstage. In their most desperate hour, they reach out for help. They hold a seance and summon the oldest and queerest playwright they can think of: William Shakespeare! Soon, the two become total besties, and together Will & Will reclaim the Bard's old plays in all their original homoerotic, cross-dressing, gender-fluid glory. Now, Will invites you to an impromptu party to celebrate their new friendship. But to meet the guest of honor, we must perform the seance again, together. Gender Play, or what you Will promises a mystical evening of queer joy, laughter, tarot, and more than a little self-discovery.

"I love the conversations sparked by Gender Play," says director Erin Murray, "because this play asks how and why we continue to stage classic theatre. Whether you haven't picked up a script since your 9th grade R&J reading assignment or you're an avid Shakespeare fan, this show is for you. Gender Play reveals the many ways we 'cast' others and ourselves in confining roles even in our everyday lives. Are you playing a part or living out your true values and passions? If 'all the world is a stage,' then it's time to bring the 'main character energy' and let Gender Play direct you to the spotlight."


Casting Direction by Catherine Miller, Dramaturgy by Linnea Valdivia, Text Coaching by Kathryn Walsh, Scenic Design by Steven Abbott, Lighting Design by Gabrielle Strong, Sound Design & Composition by Trqpiteca (Natalie Murillo & Jacquelyn Carmen Guerrero), Costume Design by Uriel Gomez, Properties Design by Lonnae Hickman, Stage Management by Lucy Whipp, Assistant Stage Management by Anna Margevich, Production Management by Audrey Kleine.

Erin Murray (she/her): co-creator & director

Erin has directed both nationally and internationally in her twenty-year directing career. In 2005, Erin directed the Irish premiere of Hedwig And The Angry Inch (Best Production at the Speigeltent) which was remounted at Project Arts Centre in 2006. Erin was Staff Director for Ireland's Opera Theatre Company for three seasons and toured six fully staged English translation productions internationally. Favorite directing credits include Anne Washburn's The Internationalist (Steppenwolf Garage), the Chicago premiere of Suzanne Heathcote's I Saw My Neighbor On The Train And I Didn't Even Smile (Redtwist), and the Seattle premiere of Annie Baker's John (ArtsWest). She was the Executive Producer on the sold-out 2012 world premiere of Ariel Zetina's Pink Milk: A Magic Tragedy Based On The Life Of Alan Turing at New York International Fringe and Chicago Fringe Festival. Erin has also adapted and created new work for audiences of all ages. She celebrated the world premiere of her adaptation, Cyrano De Bergerac: A Queeroic Comedy With Many Acts, with Island Shakespeare Festival in July 2022; her adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's GHOSTS premiered in Chicago in 2018. Erin worked with Seattle artivist Ana Maria Campoy to adapt and direct Seattle Shakespeare Company's first bilingual school WA state tours Taming Of The Shrew/ La Fierecilla Domada (2017) and Twelfth Night/Duodécima Noche (2018). Additional collaborations with WIll Wilhelm include the video podcast series Teacakes & Tarot: Conversations With Queer Futurists produced by Island Shakespeare Festival in 2020 and later in association with HowlRound Theatre Commons. Guests include Robert O'Hara, Bill Rauch, P Carl, and Lisa Wolpe with episodes available wherever you enjoy your podcasts. Education: MFA Theatre Directing, Northwestern University; BA, Trinity College Dublin. ErinMurrayDirects.com

WIll Wilhelm (they/them): co-creator & performer

WIll Wilhelm is a Chicago-based actor, writer, and educator. Select Chicago credits 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: Conversations With Queer Futurists, 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! www.WillWilhelm.com IG: @mx.willwilhelm


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