About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble Celebrates 20th Anniversary with 20/20

About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble Celebrates 20th Anniversary with 20/20

The About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the world premiere of 20/20, an exhilarating dive into recent queer history devised and performed by members of the About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble and co-directed by Associate Director of About Face Youth Theatre (AFYT) Donny Acosta and Artistic Director Megan Carney. 20/20 will play July 12 - 28, 2019 at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. in Chicago. Tickets ($20 or pay-what-you-can) are currently available at aboutfacetheatre.com or by calling (773) 784-8565. The press opening is Saturday, July 13 at 7:30 pm.

Curious about what's really changed for LGBTQ youth in the last 20 years? Immersed in a timeless club atmosphere, 20/20 explores the resilience of chosen families, the generational impacts of AIDS and the evolution of gender. Inspired by true stories of today's youth alongside program alumni and master storytellers, this performance and all-ages party draws out powerful lessons from the past to envision a vibrant and affirming future for queer lives.

Comments Co-Director and Artistic Director Megan Carney, "It's been a profound experience looking through the 20 years of archives of About Face Youth Theatre. Dozens of teaching artists and hundreds of youth have participated in workshops and performances over the years, amplifying the true stories of LGBTQIA youth on stages around Chicago and across the country. The program has a stunning legacy and is a testament to the power of the arts to be a leading force for change in our culture."

The workshop process included master classes with local visionaries including E. Patrick Johnson (Northwestern University), Zahra Baker (Storyteller and Musician), Darling Squire (Performer), Benji Hart (Artist and Activist), Moisés Villada (UIC Gender and Sexuality Center), Scott Duff (AFT Artistic Associate and Host of OUTChicago), Mama Gloria (Town Hall Apartments), and some co-founders of Amigas Latinas, Evette Cardona, Aurora Pineda and Alicia Vega. These community leaders brought recent history into sharp focus to support a play that weaves the past and present.

Co-Director and Associate Director of About Face Youth Theatre Donny Acosta adds, "20/20 gives us the opportunity to mesh two generations together that are usually separated in our community. Often older folks say, 'Oh the younger generation doesn't know what we went through to get to where we are now.' But today's youth have a different approach on how to fight these issues. It still takes effort. Nowadays we can do more than marching in the streets. We can jump online and reach people around the world. This youth ensemble is eager to learn their LGBTQIA history and pass it on."

The production team for 20/20 includes Pauline Olesky (scenic design), Jos N. Banks (costume design), Claire Sangster(lighting design), Ariel Zetina (sound design), Angelíca Grace (choreography) Jenna Meyers (production manager) and Amy Sheahan (stage manager).

About the Directors

Donny Acosta is a queer performance artist from Orange County, California. He started working with About Face as a youth ensemble member and an outreach actor. He has devised and performed his work all over the city including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Stage 773, Chicago Actors' Call To Action (CACTA) and Salonathon. He is a proud ensemble member of the Drinking and Writing Theatre and artistic associate of the Wild Atlas Theatre Company.

Megan Carney is a director, playwright, educator and the Artistic Director of About Face Theatre. Recent Chicago directing credits include R. Eric Thomas' Time Is On Our Side, Julie Jenson's Winter, George Brandt's Grizzly Mama, Danielle Pinnock'sBody/Courage and Lisa Dillman's American Wee Pie and The Walls with Rivendell Theatre Ensemble. 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 was a founding director of About Face Youth Theatre and served as Associate Artistic Director for several years while she created original ensemble plays. 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. Megan served as the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago from 2011-2017 where she created arts based educational programs for and about diverse LGBTQIA+ people and communities. She has a MFA in Theatre Arts from Virginia Tech with a focus on Directing and Public Dialogue.

The About Face Youth Theatre (AFYT) was created in 1999 as a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and allied young people to become activists and theatre-makers. Youth participants engage in an annual process of sharing stories, conducting interviews, writing a script and developing performances to create a full-length production that is produced in About Face Theatre's mainstage season. AFYT seeks to empower and enrich the lives of LGBTQIA young people through art and social justice. LGBTQIA youth and their allies ages 14-23 explore and expand the boxes we use to define our intricate intersections of race, nationality, gender and sexuality. AFYT is free and participants are provided with rigorous artistic training, critical dialogue about social justice frameworks, leadership training access and professional mentorship from LGBTQ and artists and activists and intergenerational and cross-cultural dialogue on the most pressing issues facing queer youth and their allies.

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: (pictured) The About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble in a publicity image for its 20th anniversary production20/20. Photo by Anna Gelman



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