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. Over more than 20 years, AFT has developed more than 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 1998, a group of artists affiliated with the company formed About Face Youth Theatre (AFYT) to engage queer youth in theatre, activism, and leadership development. Within the next year, due to the national outcry over the murder of Matthew Shepard and the emergence of a new wave of LGBTQ youth culture, the program quickly expanded into year-round activities including original play development and touring shows. This ground-breaking youth program continues to fulfill the theatre’s mission to advance the national dialogue about gender and sexual identity, uniquely positioning youth as both the catalyst for and leaders of that dialogue.

Bonnie Metzgar served as Artistic Director from 2007 to 2013. Metzgar’s directing credits include The Pride, The Homosexuals, Pony, Stupid Kids, and The Young Ladies Of…. Metzgar also launched the XYZ Festival of New Works and did much to engage and expand AFT’s circle of Associate Artists

Andrew Volkoff served as Artistic Director from 2013 – 2017. His directing credits include a reimagined production of I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright; Brahman/i by Aditi Kapil, Abraham Lincoln Was a F*gg*t by Bixby Elliot, after all the terrible things i do by A. Rey Pamatmat, and The Temperamentals by Jon Morans. Volkoff also reintroduced the OUT FRONT series in 2013 to develop new works exploring LGBTQIA+ themes, and created First DrAAft, a reading series focused solely on the works of AFT Artistic Associates.

Megan Carney, co-founder of AFYT and Chicago director and playwright, was named Artistic Director of About Face Theatre in October of 2017.

In addition to numerous Jeff Awards, After Dark Awards, and recognitions from the Black Theater Alliance, About Face has also been recognized with the Esteem Award for Artistic Expression from PrideIndex.com, Special Recognition Award from PFLAG National (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays National), the 
Illinois Theatre Association Award of Excellence in Professional Theatre, the Human Rights Campaign Community Equality Award, a Human First Award from Horizons Community Services, a Champions Award from Gay Games – Chicago, and Induction into City of Chicago’s LGBT Hall of Fame.

Past Seasons

2016-2017

  • 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

2015-2016

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

2014-2015

  • 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

2013-2014

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

2012-2013

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

2011-2012

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

2010-2011

  • Float
  • Pony
  • The Homosexuals

2009-2010

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

2008-2009

  • The Young Ladies Of…
  • Stupid Kids

2007-2008

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

2006-2007

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

2005-2006

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

2004-2005

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

2003-2004

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

2002-2003

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

2001-2002

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

2000-2001

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

1999-2000

  • 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

1998-1999

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

1997-1998

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

1996-1997

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