Tag: Bixby Elliot

Monday, June 8, 11:09 PM written by About Face Theatre

Who is your Abe Lincoln?

Our current show ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A F*GG*T explores relationships of all kinds from romance and friendship to family connections (and disconnections.) But perhaps one of the most compelling relationships of the show is actually the one that exists only in the mind and heart of our main character – the relationship between 17 year old Cal and his hero, Abe Lincoln.


On his journey to find himself, Cal finds a mentor in Abe Lincoln, a figure who so many people look up to for so many different reasons. As we watch Cal develop this relationship with Abe, we consider how mentors help us become our authentic selves and just how important seeing ourselves in others really is.

Inspired by this beautiful aspect of the play, we asked our cast to share who their “Abe Lincoln” is – someone who has inspired them and/or helped them into being, whether they ever met them or not. Check out the video below to see their answers and share your own with us in the comments! Then make sure to grab your ticket to come see for yourself what this show is all about.

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Wednesday, May 13, 10:40 PM written by About Face Theatre

Join us for “The ‘F’ Word” at Center on Halsted!

We are thrilled to be collaborating with Center on Halsted to host our an additional presentation of our Sunday Symposium discussion “The ‘F’ Word” outside of the theater! The opportunity to expand this discussion, inspired by our upcoming show ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A F*GG*T, is so exciting to us and we hope you’ll join us for this FREE event.



The “F” Word

Wednesday, June 10th – 7-8pm
@ Center on Halsted
3656 N Halsted St. in Chicago

In this discussion between Bixby Elliot (playwright, ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A F*GG*T) and AFT Artistic Associate, actor and playwright Philip Dawkins (playwright, THE HOMOSEXUALS), we will explore the evolution of words and language as it pertains to the LGBT community. We will take a look in how the rejection and/or ownership of different words within a minority groups plays a role in the advancement of civil rights, power and acceptance. Additionally, we will discuss how contemporary queer theater is advancing the dialogue on language and visibility for LGBT stories.

Bixby Elliot with Bow Tie PhilipDawkins-252x300

Attendants of this discussion are invited to see the Chicago premiere of ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A F*GG*T and receive $5 their ticket! Additional info will be given out at the event – don’t miss it!


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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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Monday, May 19, 8:00 PM written by boomerang

About Face Theatre Celebrates June with The Pride Performance Series

Including a Special Reading featuring Michael Urie of Ugly Betty

CHICAGO (May 15, 2014) – About Face Theatre commemorates Pride Month with THE PRIDE PERFORMANCE SERIES, a spectacular line-up of readings, performances and special events throughout June celebrating the LGBTQIA experience. The series kicks off with a reading of Jonathan Tolins’ comedy The Last Sunday in June, starring real life couple Michael Urie (of TV’s Ugly Betty) and his partner Ryan Spahn.Urie iscurrently starring in Tolins’ comedy Buyer & Cellar at Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse. Up next, AFT Artistic Associate Paul Oakley Stovall leads a panel of Chicago artists through an exploration of Lesbians & Literature. Then, playwright Bixby Elliot (Girl You Know It’s True) unravels everything you’ve ever learned about our 16th President as AFT presents a reading of his hilarious play Abraham Lincoln was a F*gg*t.  Finally, Steven Strafford stars in a reading of Methtacular!, his own brutally honest and often comedic story of survival as a meth addict in Chicago.

Tickets for THE PRIDE PERFORMANCE SERIES are available at www.aboutfacetheatre.org.   A Series Pass is available at a 20% discount ($44) for access to all four events.


The Last Sunday in June

By Jonathan Tolins

Directed by AFT Artistic Director Andrew Volkoff

Starring Michael Urie with Ryan Spahn and others

Monday, June 2 at 7:30 pm 

The Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Tickets $20


The Last Sunday In June is a fascinating look back at how much has changed in the LGBTQ landscape over the past ten years. It’s the last Sunday in June 2003, the day of the annual Gay Pride Parade through New York’s Greenwich Village. Tom and Michael, his partner of seven years, intend to spend the day planning their impending move from the Big Apple to the upstate town of Nyack, but their plans are rerouted as one friend after another drops by to view the parade from the window of their Christopher Street apartment. An afternoon originally designated for things domestic instead turns into a series of conversations about relationships, self-acceptance and the very meaning of what it is to be gay, eventually calling into question Tom and Michael’s relationship itself.


Lesbians and Literature

Hosted by AFT Artistic Associate Paul Oakley Stovall

Part of the PivotArts Festival

Tuesday, June 10 at 7 pm

Uncommon Ground, 1401 W. Devon Ave., Chicago

Tickets $10


Lesbians have had a lasting, but often unsung, impact on English literature.  AFT Artistic Associate Paul Oakley Stovall hosts a panel discussion and performance exploring gay women in literature including Sappho, the couple behind James Joyce’s Ulysses and more.  The event features playwright Marilyn Campbell, AFT Artistic Associate Elizabeth Ledo, playwright and actress Pat Kane, and others.


Abraham Lincoln was a F*gg*t

by Bixby Elliot

Directed by AFT Artistic Director Andrew Volkoff

Friday, June 13 and Saturday June 14 at 7:30 pm

Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago

Tickets $10


Was our country’s most beloved president gay? That’s what 17-year-old Cal thinks and he’s going to prove it to the world! Structured around an oral report that Cal presents at Ford’s Theatre where Lincoln met his untimely end,Abraham Lincoln was a F*gg*tweaves together Cal’s story and his quest to prove the secret (based in fact) sexual history of Gaybraham Lincoln. Along the way there is damning evidence, time travel, a road trip to the nation’s capital, budding high-school romance, a crazy Mary Todd and sex in a stove-pipe hat.  Watch and learn!



Written by and starring Steven Strafford

Directed by Adam Fitzgerald

Tuesday, June 17 at 7:30 pm

American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St., Chicago

Tickets $15


Methtacular! is Steven Strafford’s hilarious and harrowing account of his three year run as a crystal meth addict in Chicago. As Steven weaves together stories, songs and Facts of Life references, audiences will laugh their way down into the depths of a drug addled, sex crazed life.


About Face Theatre creates exceptional, innovative, and adventurous plays to advance the national dialogue on gender and sexual identity, and to challenge and entertain audiences in Chicago, across the country, and around the world.



PRESS CONTACT: David Rosenberg
David Rosenberg Public Relations

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Wednesday, September 11, 11:56 PM written by EmilyHaha

Announcing About Face Theatre’s 2013-2014 Programming!

This spring, About Face Theatre is proud to present the Chicago premiere of Aditi Brennan Kapil’s stand-up comedy play, BRAHMAN/I: A ONE-HIJRA STAND-UP COMEDY SHOW, exploring gender, culture, mythology and puberty all through the lens of a hijra, an Indian intersex person.

In the summer, About Face Youth Theatre investigates the intersection of immigration and queer identity in the world premiere of CHECKING BOXES.

Our 2013-14 offerings also feature the OUT FRONT Series, a year-round line-up of workshops and readings of new and developmental works by LGBTQA playwrights, as well as a month-long PRIDE CABARET Music Series in June 2014.

Don’t miss a moment of this groundbreaking programming.
Memberships start at just $110.

Become A Member Today 



The About Face Theatre 2013–14 programming includes:

November 27, 2013 – January 5, 2014
The Return of the Hit Holiday Musical
Book and Lyrics by AFT Artistic Associate Scott Bradley
Music & Additional Lyrics by Alan Schmuckler
Directed by AFT Artistic Associate Scott Ferguson
Musical Direction by Aaron Benham
Choreography by AFT Artistic Associate Patrick Andrews
Featuring AFT Artistic Associates Scott Duff and John Francisco with Sharriese Hamilton, Mark David Kaplan, James Nedrud, Danielle Plisz (Jeff Award nominated), Bethany Thomas, Dana Tretta and Andrew Swan.
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago

Fresh from a concert at Joe’s Pub in New York City with a revamped book and expanded score, last year’s sparkly, queer holiday hit is back… and better than ever!  Box maker Conrad Ticklebottom’s life has hit a block. Once, Conrad and his purple box ignited an entire movement in art and design, but now he finds himself alone, forgotten and teetering on ruin. The holidays bring three magical figures to his door – a trio of Liza Minnellis to escort him on a fabulous journey through what-was, what-could-be and what-the-f*?!, redeeming his lost promise and re-inventing a brand-new Conrad Ticklebottom.  A quirky holiday musical tale of hope, transformation… and the power of Liza!

March/April 2014
The Chicago Premiere of
By Aditi Brennan Kapil
Directed by Collective Artistic Director Andrew Volkoff
Location TBA

This hilarious stand-up comedy routine/play takes on history, mythology, gender roles and high school through the distinct comic lens of Brahman/i, an Indian intersex person – a hijra – tethered by neither gender nor culture, and wildly curious and inventive in their examination of both.

Aditi Brennan Kapil is a writer, actress and director of Bulgarian and Indian descent. She was raised in Sweden and resides in Minneapolis, MN. She performs extensively around the country and her writing has been produced nationally to critical acclaim. Her play Love Person received the 2009 Stavis Playwriting Award, and her play, Agnes Under the Big Top, a tall tale, was selected as a Distinguished New Play Development project by the NEA as administered by Arena Stage.  Her most recent work is the “Displaced Hindu Gods Trilogy,” consisting of the plays Brahman/i, The Chronicles of Kalki and Shiv.  Aditi is currently working on commissions with Yale Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse and South Coast Repertory Theatre, and is a resident artist at Mixed Blood Theatre, an artistic associate at Park Square Theatre and a Core Writer at The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis.

About Face’s OUT FRONT Series
A year round line-up of workshops and readings of new and developmental works, including:
BILLIE AND BILLY by AFT Artistic Associate Paul Oakley Stovall
7:30PM – Saturday, November 16, 2013 and Sunday, November 17, 2013
American Theatre Company, 1909 West Byron Street, Chicago, Illinois 60613
Tickets are FREE!

The divide between different cultures and ethnicities, between men and women, between straight and gay in America can be a great one.  Using only two characters, Paul Oakley Stovall aims to present what seems to be a tiny little drama, set in a small city apartment and the empty flat across the hall.  As Billie and Billy form an unexpected bond, their lives begin to intersect in strange ways. The audience is invited to explore with them: our need for companionship, our desire to solve the mysteries of existence and the ways in which we see ourselves in the eyes of others.  Billie and Billy explores the similarities ignored, our common needs and desires and the mutual ground we walk upon.

January 25 & 26, 2014
when last we flew by Harrison David Rivers
Location TBA

Inspired by Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and a testament to the power of theatre, when last we flew is a moving and often humorous look at life in small town America from a contemporary teenage perspective.  After stealing his local library’s only copy of Angels in America, misfit teenager Paul locks himself in the bathroom to begin reading the landmark play. He soon finds that his life and the lives of those around him in his small Kansas town are about to take flight, and over the course of a seemingly ordinary day, extraordinary things start to happen…

June 2014
Location TBA

To commemorate Pride Month, every weekend in June, About Face Theatre will be hosting a series of cabaret performances celebrating every aspect of the LGBTQA community.  From showtunes and standards to comedy to new music to open mics, we’ll be serving up the fun as we invite our community to join with us in making Pride laugh, sing and sparkle!

July 2014
The World Premiere of
By the About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble
Location TBA

Every two years, About Face’s acclaimed Youth Theatre devises a play as the result of workshops, in depth interviews, theatre training and improvisation.  Working with a professional writer and director, they produce plays that tackle challenging topics ranging from anti-gay violence to safe spaces for youth in the LGBTQA community.  This year, AFYT turns its attention to an exploration of immigration in the queer community.  Building off the work that they created in this summer’s research filled Youth Intensive, they’ll be bringing this brand new play to Chicagoans in July 2014.

About Face Theatre (Andrew Volkoff, Artistic Director) is one of Chicago’s most acclaimed theatre companies, and is a national leader in the development of new work exploring gender and sexual identity.  Since its founding by Kyle Hall and Eric Rosen in 1995, the company has premiered more than 48 world premieres by writers and directors who have been recognized with several Tony Awards, The Pulitzer Prize for Drama, The MacArthur Fellowship and dozens of Joseph Jefferson Awards.

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