Tag: About Face Theatre

Wednesday, November 4, 8:43 PM written by AFT Theatre

A blog the creator of Pulp: Patricia Kane

“I’m a lesbian.  Plain and simple.  I don’t make any bones about it.” 

When I first started writing that line for PULP a year or two after the millennial turn, I couldn’t imagine that I would be sitting here now writing a blog post (“what the hell is a blog?”), legally married to my wife (although it was a distant hope), a show about a lesbian cartoonist who grew up in a funeral home with a suicidal gay dad would win the Tony Award for best musical, fab lesbian Lisa Kron (who I want to be when I grow up) would win for best book and score (along with Jeanine Tesori) for that musical, and transgender issues would be would be big stories in mainstream media.  Plus, a lesbian pulp classic (“The Price of Salt”) would be released as a major motion picture (“Carol”) and create a lot of Oscar buzz.  My oh my how times have changed.  But, in a way, I could see inklings of this from our first previews of PULP in 2004.  The show quickly became a hit, primarily because it appealed to a broad cross-section of Chicago theatregoers.  And what an amazing sight that was.  On any given night, the audience would be filled with lots of lesbians and gays, yes, but also with just as many straight folks – young and old – laughing and rooting for this group of middle-aged lesbians and drag performers in a 1950’s underground bar trying to find their one true love. Wow.

Pat Kane as Winchester Cox

Patricia Kane as Winchester Cox in the original production of Pulp

I wanted to write a play that reclaimed the marvelous lesbian pulp fiction novels of the mid-20th century, which were usually sad (at best) and tragic (most of the time).  I wanted to turn the genre on its head a bit and create an homage that was fun, funny, sexy, empowering, romantic, and ultimately, uplifting.  Who doesn’t want to see a play like that?  Luckily, with the vision of a fabulous director (Jessica Thebus), the artistic leadership of Eric Rosen, and the creativity of a fantastic group of designers and actors, we were able to build that play over the course of a couple of years.  Since its creation, PULP has had critically acclaimed productions across the country.  However, it’s interesting to note, that even with its success since its first outing in 2004, it was just published for the first time this summer by Chicago Dramaworks.  (I was told in 2004 that no one would publish it because it was about lesbians…)  Glad that change has finally come.

Pulp 2015

I’m thrilled that About Face is bringing PULP back to life for a two-night staged reading, with Jessica Thebus back at the helm.  It’s bittersweet, though, because Julia Neary (who played the lead, Terry Logan, in the About Face productions) died from cancer at the beginning of the year at the way too young age of 50.  However, I’m thrilled that my dear friend, Peggy Dunne, will be returning to Chicago to play Terry, a role she did in the Celebration Theatre production in Los Angeles in the fall of 2004.  The fantastic Amy Warren (who co-wrote the music) returns as Miss Vivian, and I’ll be reprising the role of Winny.  We’ll also be joined this time around by the fabulous About Face Artistic Associate Elizabeth Ledo as Pepper and gorgeous Angela Ingersoll as Bing.  I’m ecstatic that they will all be with us at The Well.   Should be a grand time, or as Bing says – “FAN-Tastic.”


November 12th & 13th at 7:30 pm

Stage 773


TICKETS ARE SELLING FAST (only 4 remaining tickets for Friday night!)


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Tuesday, November 3, 7:28 PM written by AFT Theatre

Pulp returns for TWO NIGHTS ONLY!

The 2004 & 2007 smash-hit-musical-comedy returns as a 20th Anniversary Benefit Performance


Pulp 2015

By Patricia Kane
Music by Andre Pluess and Amy Warren
Lyrics by Patricia Kane
Starring: Patricia Kane, Amy Warren, Peggy Dunne, AFT Artistic Associate: Elizabeth Ledo and Angela Ingersoll
November 12th and 13th at 7:30pm
Stage 773 1225 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
The 2004 and 2007 About Face Theatre smash hit returns for TWO NIGHTS ONLY! Set in the twilight world of 1950’s Chicago, Pulp is a deliciously campy homage to the sultry, jazzy world of lesbian pulp fiction.

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Monday, May 4, 9:18 PM written by About Face Theatre

The “F” Word

ALWAF-posterimag-900pxAbout Face Theatre is thrilled to be presenting the Chicago premiere of Bixby Elliot’s play, ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A F*GG*T. We hope this play will incite exciting conversation around relevant issues including the absence of LGBT figures in history, how we use language to empower and educate, and the importance of mentors for queer youth. To this end, we are busy planning another round of Sunday Symposium discussions as well as a series of blog posts exploring these issues and themes stemming from the show.

To kick off this blog series, we invited playwright Bixby Elliot to share some of his thoughts and feelings around the title of the show. We hope this post will be enlightening for you and will ignite a dialogue that we look forward to continuing over the course of the next couple of months (and beyond!)


Why the F Word?

by Bixby Elliot

Bixby Elliot with Bow TieSeveral years ago my partner Paul brought home a set of vintage books. He loves to collect things (he says “vintage, sometimes I say “junk”) and often I am surprised with things such as, taxidermy frogs playing the bongos or portraits of society ladies with fangs and vampire bites (he paid way too much for that one). One time he surprised me with a set of books. They were called Step Up Books – educational books for kids. This series was on the presidents. George Washington: A Step Up Book. John F. Kennedy: A Step Up Book. Abraham Lincoln: A Step Up Book.

il_fullxfull.303276036I picked up the book with the bearded man and the stove pipe hat and I started flipping through the pages and reading the reductive, watered down retelling of Abraham Lincoln’s life (“Abraham was tall. Abraham read a lot of books. Abraham married Mary Todd”). Not only was it poorly written but it lacked any substance or nuance. Where were the moral dilemmas that he faced, the crippling melancholia he lived with and, something I had been hearing about for several years…all the rumors of his sexuality? “Shouldn’t kids be exposed to the complexity of our American heroes?”, I thought. “Why do our president’s have to be unblemished or one dimensional – why can’t they be who they really are? Why can’t we learn about the true and authentic life of Abe Lincoln?” My mind started spinning.

That night I crawled into bed with Paul (along with our aging dog and two cats – the bed gets crowded) and lay in the darkness thinking about all of this. Paul was snoring (he will deny this) and the moon was coming in through the window. Then all at once I rolled over and said, “What if I wrote a play called ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A FAGGOT”? He woke up from a deep sleep. His eyes widened. He let out a loud laugh and said, “That is a good idea,” and went back to sleep.

At that moment, the idea was lodged in my brain and I began a journey writing this play – a journey that is culminating in the production of ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A FAGGOT at About Face Theater. I am overjoyed that AFT is producing this play. It’s really a dream come true! I am aware, however, that when the AFT season was announced, there might have been some raising of eyebrows and a question or two about the title of this play and that many might be wondering, “Why the F word”? That is a great question.


There are several things I start to discuss when people ask me about the title. One, I talk about that first moment laying in bed with my partner. The way it captured his attention and he literally woke up. I would like to awaken people to the play, to capture their minds and their imaginations from the very beginning. The title announces that we are going to go right to the heart of the matter – we aren’t going to pussy foot around and walk on eggshells. This is a play about Abraham Lincoln, our nation’s greatest president, and the idea that he is a big ol’ mo. And, I believe, that it announces that we are going to have some fun…this is gonna be fun! The title is dynamic and exciting and, yes, controversial. The title isn’t ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A GAY GUY or ABRAHAM LINCOLN LIKED TO HAVE SEX WITH GUYS. The title is ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A F*GG*T.

The second thing I always start to discuss is the idea that the title indicates some kind of radical nature of the play. Many think the play will be this revolutionary, political treatise on taking back the word “fag” and reclaiming it and owning it and doing so in the context of tearing down our beloved Abe Lincoln. That is actually not what the play is and not what I am trying to do with the title. The play itself is really funny and touching and, I hope, moving. It is the exploration of a young man’s journey to understand his authentic self through this framework of Abe Lincoln’s sexuality.

Which leads to me third point I make. The title is not the slur of a bigot – it is the voice of our young man who has been labeled with this epithet and is trying to empower himself. He is saying “I am a faggot and Abraham Lincoln is a faggot…and that is a good thing.” I know that is convoluted but it makes a big difference to me – the difference between hatred and empowerment.

gay-abeFrankly, I love that starting with just the title, we are already having a dialogue about sexuality and language and politics and many other things, because that is what I find super exciting about theater. I want people to talk about theater. I want to engage them and have them laugh and cry and gasp and, yes, talk about it. I want people to go over to Boystown or the Gold Coast or Andersonville and get a drink or a coffee or a whatever and run into a friend who says, “Oh gosh, I am not going to see that play because of the title,” and be engaged in a discussion right there in Starbucks around the pros and cons of the title and even the the larger question of language and empowerment as a whole. It is exciting that this play has the possibility to entertain and encourage robust discussion. That is the magic and joy of theater!

I hope that you will come see the play. I hope that if you are having feelings or thoughts about the title (either good or bad) that you will move towards those feelings (not away from them) and join us. After the play you can come up and tell us what you thought and we can talk about it and it will be awesome! Awesome!

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