AFT’s history

About Face Theatre (AFT) was founded by Kyle Hall and Eric Rosen in 1995 in response to the lack of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) voices within the American theatrical canon. From its inception, About Face has produced innovative theatre in collaboration with both nationally recognized and emerging artists. In its 20 year history, AFT has developed nearly 60 productions for Chicago audiences, including 46 world premieres.

Within the organization’s first two seasons AFT adapted three new plays and worked with Tony Award winning playwright Mary Zimmerman to develop a fourth world premiere, receiving public praise and garnering ten Jeff and After Dark awards. In 2002, Moises Kaufman and Doug Wright approached AFT for assistance in developing I AM MY OWN WIFE prior to its future as a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning production. This partnership was the beginning of the ongoing, extremely fruitful relationship with Kaufman’s Tectonic Theater Project and was instrumental in moving AFT forward as a recognized resource for the development of new LGBT work.

In 1999, in response to the murder of Matthew Shepard, the theatre formed About Face Youth Theatre (AFYT) to engage queer youth in theatre, activism, and empowerment. This ground-breaking program fulfills the theatre’s mission to advance the national dialogue about gender and sexual identity, uniquely positioning youth people as both the catalyst for and leaders of that dialogue.

The company continues to evolve to meet the needs of the more inclusive and expanded queer community. Recent work has explored transgender issues, PONY by Sylvan Osward in 2011 and WHAT’S THE T in 2012. AFT represented queer communities of color through SWEET TEA: BLACK GAY MEN OF THE SOUTH in 2010 (Black Theatre Alliance Award) and our ongoing work with Chicago-based Tanya Saracho and Paul Oakley Stovall.  Through Bonnie Metzgar’s leadership, AFT began the XYZ Festival of New Work in 2009, an initiative dedicated to developing new work exploring gender and sexual identity by emerging artists.

In 2010 AFT was one of the ten theatres honored with a National Theatre Company Grant for its vitality, innovation, and artistic commitment from the American Theatre Wing, founders of the Tony Awards. Our continued dedication has been met with 2012 awards including a Jeff Award (New Work – Play) to Artistic Associate Sarah Gubbins’s THE KID THING and a Black Theatre Alliance Award (Best Direction) to Phylicia Rashad for IMMEDIATE FAMILY along with 7 additional nominations.

Past Seasons


  • I Am My Own Wife
  • The Temperamentals
  • Bright Half Life
  • Out Front 2017 – AIDS On Stage
    • As Is by William Hoffman
    • Jeffrey by Paul Rudnick
    • In the Continuum by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter
    • And All the Dead Lie Down By Harrison David Rivers
  • First DrAAft: An Untitled Piece Inspired by Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
  • About Face Youth Theatre: Brave Like Them: A Queer As Fuck Riot GRRRL Musical


  • Le Switch
  • after all the terrible things i do
  • The Secretaries
  • AFT 20: A Retrospective
  • About Face Youth Theatre: Ad Hoc Home


  • Methtacular (in co production with Justin Brill)
  • Big Red and The Boys
  • A Kid Like Jake
  • Abraham Lincoln Was a F*gg*t
  • About Face Youth Theatre: 15 Breaths


  • We Three Lizas
  • Brahman/i (in co production with Silk Road Rising)
  • The Pride Performance Series
  • About Face Youth Theatre: Checking Boxes


  • We Three Lizas
  • The Pride
  • About Face Youth Theatre: What’s the T (remount)


  • The Kid Thing
  • Rent
  • Immediate Family
  • About Face Youth Theatre: What’s the T


  • Float
  • Pony
  • The Homosexuals


  • XYZ Festival 2009
  • What Once We Felt
  • Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South
  • About Face Youth Theatre: Queertopia


  • The Young Ladies Of…
  • Stupid Kids


  • Clay in LA
  • Wedding Play
  • The Little Dog Laughed
  • About Face Youth Theatre: Fast Forward


  • Clay
  • Say You Love Satan
  • Execution of Justice
  • Pulp


  • Loving Repeating
  • M. Proust
  • About Face Youth Theatre: The Home Project


  • One Arm, Steppenwolf Theatre and Tectonic Theatre Project, co-producers
  • Take Me Out
  • About Face Youth Theatre: The Home Project Workshop


  • Pulp
  • Winesburg, Ohio
  • About Face Youth Theatre: On the Record


  • Theatre District
  • I Am My Own Wife, MCA, Associate Producer
  • Fascination
  • About Face Youth Theatre: Up Until Now


  • Undone
  • Seven Moves
  • Another American: Asking and Telling
  • Xena Live! Episode 2: Xena Lives! The Musical
  • About Face Youth Theatre: Inside Out


  • Whitman
  • bash: latterday plays
  • The Terrible Girls
  • About Face Youth Theatre: In Real Life


  • Dancer from the Dance
  • Xena Live! Episode 1: Double Your Pleasure
  • Four
  • Eleven Rooms of Proust, Lookingglass Theatre Company, co-producer
  • About Face Youth Theatre: Raising Voices


  • Dream Boy
  • The SantaLand Diaries, RoadWorks Productions, co-producer
  • Cloud 9
  • About Face Youth Theatre: First Breath


  • In the Heart of America
  • Eleven Rooms of Proust
  • A Home at the End of the World


  • Dream Boy
  • The Gift
  • The Boys in the Band