The Gulf

The Gulf page banner
Written by Audrey Cefaly
Directed by AFT Artistic Director Megan Carney
Featuring AFT Artistic Associate Kelli Simpkins

January 9 – February 15, 2020
Theater Wit, 1229 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

On a muggy summer evening somewhere down in the Alabama Delta, Kendra and Betty troll the flats looking for redfish. Six years into their relationship, tensions and passions flare as the couple clash over past infidelities, life-choices, and job struggles. When their motor breaks, stranding them in open water under darkening skies, the couple are forced to grapple with the growing space between them and where their life together will go next. The Gulf won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Drama.

Out Chicago Interview

Listen to an interview with playwright Audrey Cefaly and director Megan Carney on Out Chicago with Scott Duff.


Tickets: $15-32

Open Caption Performance
C2 Inc provided open captioning for the February 9th 3:00pm performance. Open captioning features a text display of the words and sounds heard during a play synced live with the action onstage by an in-house captioner.

Blue Star Theatre Program
About Face Theatre offers $20 tickets for qualifying U.S. military personnel, veterans, and first responders and their families. Use code BLUESTAR online or call our box office to claim your discount. Please note that discounted tickets are limited by availability on any given date.

Special Events

We believe in the power of theatre to connect to our lives in essential ways and to spark dialogue about topics that matter most in our communities – so Let’s Talk!

Thurs, Feb 6: Natalie D. A. Bennet

Natalie is Director of the Women’s Leadership & Resource Center at University of Illinois at Chicago where she oversees UIC’s anti-violence program which provides advocacy for survivors of gender-based violence as well as violence prevention or the campus Community. Her research, teaching and activist interests have focused on black feminisms across community, creative and academic spaces in the US and the Caribbean. Since moving to Chicago in 2004, she has worked to promote scholarship on Caribbean feminisms and queer sexualities in academic spaces.

Thurs, Feb 13: Ada Cheng

Ada Cheng is a professor-turned-storyteller, solo performer, and storytelling show producer. She is the producer and the host of four storytelling shows, including Pour One Out, Am I Man Enough?, Talk Stories: An Asian American/Asian Diaspora Storytelling Show, and Speaking Truths Series. She creates platforms for people to tell difficult and vulnerable stories as well as spaces for people and communities who may not have opportunities otherwise. She is the Education and Outreach Specialist with Campus Advocacy Network at Women’s Leadership and Resource Center at UIC, doing training and outreach on issues related to gender-based violence.

Sun, Feb 9: Mia McCullough

Mia is a playwright, screenwriter, teacher, filmmaker, and occasionally a stand-up comedian. Her plays have been seen at theatres around the country including Steppenwolf, The Goodman, Stage Left, and Chicago Dramatists, The Old Globe, InterAct, and Red Fern Theater. Her short film Parallel was nominated for Best Screenplay at the Midwest Independent Film Festival. Her web series The Haven, about the staff and clients of a domestic violence shelter, was distributed by OTV – Open Television in 2019.

Meet the Artists

Audrey Cefaly (Playwright) is a southern writer and Alabama native based in the DC region. Her plays include The Gulf, Alabaster, Maytag Virgin, The Last Wide Open, The Story of Walter (adaptation of her podcast by the same name), and Love is a Blue Tick Hound (a collection of award-winning one-acts). She has developed plays with the National New Play Network, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Signature Theatre, Serenbe Playhouse (New Territories), Aurora Theatre, Florida Rep, Theater Alliance, Quotidian Theatre Company, University of Alabama – Birmingham, and Contemporary American Theater Festival. Cefaly is a member of the 2019 Playwrights’ Arena cohort at Arena Stage and was recently named a Traveling Master by the Dramatist Guild Foundation. She is an outspoken proponent of silence in story-telling and has authored numerous articles on the topic of playwriting for HowlRound and Samuel French’s Breaking Character Magazine.

Megan Carney (Director) is a director, playwright, and teaching artist, and the Artistic Director of About Face Theatre. Recent Chicago directing credits include Time is On Our Side (About Face); Winter, Grizzly Mama, Danielle Pinnock’s Body/Courage, American Wee Pie, and The Walls (Rivendell). Megan has written several plays based on true stories, including WOMEN AT WAR, based on 75 interviews with women in the military (Rivendell); OPEN SYSTEMS, about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (Goodman Theatre); Let Them Eat Cake, about marriage equality (Dixon Place, NYC); and multiple large ensemble plays with About Face Youth Theatre, which she co-founded. Megan’s work in theatre and community building has been recognized with multiple After Dark Awards, the GLSEN Pathfinder Award, an APA Presidential Citation, induction into Chicago’s LGBT Hall of Fame, and a Rockefeller Foundation MAP Grant. Megan served as the Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she developed public arts-based programs and led interactive workshops. She is a certified mediator with the Center for Conflict Resolution, earned an MFA in Theatre with a focus on Directing and Public Dialogue from Virginia Tech as well as a BA from Kalamazoo College, where her ideas about art as a tool for social justice and activism began to take shape.

Kelli Simpkins (“Kendra”) is a theater, film and television actor. She has been a company member of NYC’s Tectonic Theater Project since 1999. She is one of the original creators/dramaturges/performers of The Laramie Project and appeared in HBO’s The Laramie Project, for which she and fellow company members share a Humanitas Prize and an Emmy nomination. She is a Tectonic Moment Work teaching artist and has led training labs throughout the country. She co-wrote, directed and devised an original play with students at Western Michigan University called GOOD DEATH, which was subsequently performed at the Kennedy Center’s Region III American College Theatre Festival. Kelli is a contributing writer to the forthcoming book Moment Work – Tectonic Theater Project’s Process of Devising Theater, which will be published and available in April 2018. After living in New York for fifteen years, Kelli relocated to Chicago. She has worked in Chicago at Steppenwolf Theatre, The Goodman, American Theater Company, Timeline, Victory Gardens, and About Face Theater, where she is also an artistic associate. She returns to NYC frequently to perform and to devise and develop work with longtime artistic collaborators. Kelli is represented by NYC manager Jodi Schoenbrun Carter at 1022m Management. She is a proud recipient of the 2013 3ARTS award.

Deanna Meyers (“Betty”) Chicago credits include: The Great Leap (Steppenwolf Theatre), White Snake (u/s) and The New Stages Production of King Of The Yees (Goodman Theatre), You On The Moors Now (The Hypocrites), Two Mile Hollow (First Floor Theatre), The Scene and Smart People (Writers Theatre), Regional: Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley (Milwaukee Rep). TV credits: Hot Date, Chicago Med, and Chicago Fire. Deanna is a Company Member with Barrel of Monkeys and a perpetual student at Actors Gymnasium.