Tag: Chicago

Wednesday, January 14, 11:06 PM written by AFT Theatre

Behind the interviews: Bruce K.

At the end of January, AFT will proudly present the first public reading of the beginning portions of STANDING UNDERNEATH NIGHT AND DAY, a new project led by AFT Artistic Associate, Kelli Simpkins. The piece uses a collection of 50 interviews conducted over a five month period with intergenerational members of the Chicago LGBTQIA community and those advocating for youth and seniors. In the weeks leading up to the show, we will be sharing posts from a few of these folks to share their perspective on the piece and why they wanted to be involved.


What inspired you to become part of this project?

When Kelli told me about the project, I was drawn to the notion that loneliness can be an experience that young and old share and might address together. Having traversed the path from a gay youth to a gay senior, I imagine that the challenges of finding meaningful connections could create a bond between LGBTQIA youth and older adults. I like that idea, and I’d like to believe that we can learn from each other.

How would you explain this problem of loneliness within the LGBTQIA community to someone unfamiliar with the issue?

Of course, loneliness can be a product of modern life. The ties of extended families weaken, the power of friendship dissipates, and our greatest access to community is often reduced to “liking” or “friending” someone on a smartphone. But I think that LGBTQIA people are also vulnerable to feeling lonely as a legacy of homophobia. Sadly, as a psychotherapist and social service professional, I hear the lament of loneliness almost as much from today’s LGBTQIA young people as I did from my own generation. In spite of all the progress we’ve made toward securing our rights, the truth is that many LGBTQ youth continue to experience rejection, ostracism, harassment and violence that is fueled by homophobia. The result can be a lifetime of fear and insecurity that leads to not only alienation from others, but also alienation from one’s self. Within these lie the seeds of loneliness.

For LGBTQIA seniors, that legacy may persist and be amplified by the stigma of aging as well as by the profound losses that are part of the aging process. As I age, I am aware of my diminishing circle and my fears of being abandoned or alone. This need not be our destiny, but that will require a different vision of LGBTQIA aging that includes connection with those who are different from us by virtue of age and/or other qualities and dimensions.

How do you hope the piece will ultimately build community or change around this issue?

I would hope that the piece will build connection; bridges of empathy based on shared experience, mutual respect and care. I also hope that it will generate a will to create structures that reduce loneliness and alienation among and between young and old. Each has so much to give to the other which could prove so valuable in this time of otherwise tenuous connections.

At this phase, the piece primarily explores the voices of young people and seniors in the community. What is one thing you’d like to tell to your younger self about life/love/community?

We are here to love in one form or another; get on with it. Don’t let all the other challenges of life deter you, embitter you, or cause you to minimize the importance of this.

The piece also aims to find common ground between generations, so with that in mind, what is one thing you would want a young community member to know about you?

I guess I would start by acknowledging difference. I am a product of my times just as you will be a product of yours. The lessons of my life may not suit you. Consequently, I cannot adequately prepare you for what lies ahead in your life. Still, I did my best and I like what I have become, so if there are any lessons of my life that may be useful to you, I’m happy to share them. Regardless, as I am grateful to those who came before me for all the good they created and the sacrifices they made, so I hope you will be mindful of those who came before you. We came here to love, just like you, and were fortunate to have expanded the space in which that could occur. We did that for us and for you. Build on it. We can help (just ask!), but the next steps are yours.


by AFT Artistic Associate Kelli Simpkins
JANUARY 24th @ 7:00pm & JANUARY 25th @ 3:00pm
Center on Halsted | 3656 N Halsted St in Chicago

Register now to reserve your seat!

To help About Face nurture new work like STANDING UNDERNEATH NIGHT AND DAY, please consider making a $10 donation when you reserve your ticket.

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Wednesday, January 7, 9:10 PM written by AFT Theatre

Behind the Scenes: “Standing Underneath Night and Day”

OUT FRONT turquoise
At the end of January, AFT will proudly present the first public reading of the beginning portions of STANDING UNDERNEATH NIGHT AND DAY, a new project led by AFT Artistic Associate, Kelli Simpkins. We can’t wait to share this work with you as part of our OUT FRONT 2015 series as well as see how it continues to grow over the next several months. What audience members will see on the 24th and 25th is the result of a very interesting process that began in earnest just about one year ago. Read more below to learn about the impetus for this piece and how it has been created and make sure to reserve your seat to see this first workshop.

DSC_0157The genesis of this project began a few years ago when SK pitched their idea of wanting to create a new work about intergenerational loneliness. At the same time, ground was being broken on the first Midwest LGBTQ-friendly senior residence in Boystown, and the results of an LGBTQ community needs assessment (which hadn’t been done for over a decade!) were released. I became immediately interested in this project, as did a few other About Face Artistic Associates (Ben Sprunger and Patrick Andrews).

In the winter of 2014, we got an NEA grant to begin the work with About Face Theatre. In July 2014, we began collecting interviews with LGBTQIA elders and youth, activists and those in the middle advocating for these two populations. We did interviews through November 2014 and have completed 50 interviews thus far. This summer we began working with Caitlin Kane, Judson Rose, Al Evangelista and Reed Motz, who have transcribed the majority of these interviews and become collaborators in addition to the original group of four. In December I began writing from the raw interviews, while incorporating the theatrical ideas we’ve been exploring as a group.

The presentation you will see on January 24th and 25th at Center on Halsted is a workshop presentation. It will likely be the first 40-50 pages and perhaps a few monologues from interviews that are still being transcribed. This is the first look of moments of a play that will ultimately go through a more comprehensive laboratory and several more developmental workshops to truly begin to see the piece in a fully dimensional way.

“My journey with this process has been all encompassing. It has been incredibly educational, engaging, political and profoundly inspiring.”

–Kelli Simpkins

The interviewees have moved me beyond words and I have learned more than I thought possible about community (where we’ve been, where we are and what the future holds) and the seniors, youth and those on the periphery of communities. I thank the interviewees for their immense generosity, time and stories and I thank the seven collaborators on this project, who’ve supremely given of their hearts, minds, talents and time. We are excited to share the first look of the beginning process of what I hope will ultimately be a moving, meaningful, powerful intergenerational play that creates dialogue and encourages connections between seniors, youth and those in the middle. Additionally, I hope that this play can provide space for the disparate and invisible aspects of our various community populations to be seen and heard.

Thank you for supporting the first showing of this play.

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Thursday, September 18, 7:25 PM written by About Face Theatre

Flying Solo: The Art of the One Person Show




Once you’ve marveled at Steven’s masterful one-man show, join us for an informal conversation about creating and performing solo work. We’ll talk about what it’s like to put your life on stage as well as what makes this performance art form so compelling.

Joining Steven for this informal chat is writer, actor and educator Arlene Malinowski. Arlene has taught acting and solo writing/ performing at Chicago Dramatist, Victory Gardens, the College of the Canyons and in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco as well as in theaters and colleges nationwide. She currently teaches a “Writing in Mixed Genres” class, as well as solo intensives and does private coaching with students from across the country. As an actor and playwright Arlene views her solo work as an artistic extension of the social justice work she has been committed to for the last twenty-five years. She has been performing her five critically acclaimed solo shows across the country and has been honored nationally with numerous awards for her work.

Learn more about Arlene on her website www.arlenemalinowski.com.

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Thursday, September 11, 8:07 PM written by About Face Theatre

Reading Roundup: Addiction and the LGBTQ community

uHwM258Hg_WC9Wk6yaPGC14pqIJucbRJTeiD6fQqApoFor many audience members, the trip down the rabbit hole in Steven Strafford’s “Methtacular!” may be their first introduction to the topic of addiction (and in particular abuse of meth) in the queer community, but this issue reaches far beyond Steven’s story and is a problem that has plagued our community for many years.

It is believed that a much higher percentage of LGBTQ people use alcohol and drugs than do heterosexual adults and while more and more resources are being created to address this issue, the problem remains that this and other gay health issues are not addressed at the level required to rectify the problem.

Below is a list of online reading that people interested in learning more on this topic will want to check out. For even more conversation on this issue, check out our panel discussion “After the Curtain Closes: A look at the road to recovery”.

After the Curtain Closes:
A look at the road to recovery

Date: September 14, 2014
Time: Immediately following the 4pm performance of “Methtacular!”
Location: Theater Wit | 1229 W Belmont Ave, Chicago

Recommended Reading

Why the Gay and Transgender Population Experiences Higher Rates of Substance Use
A comprehensive brief put out by the Center for American Progress about the LGBTQ community and substance abuse.

Crystal Meth: How Gay Men Start Down the Long Road of Addiction
The first of a 3-part series written by Tweakers Project founder Jimmy Palmieri for wehoville.com.

An article from the Council on Drug Abuse (CODA) that focuses on the risk for drug abuse and addiction among LGBTQ youth.

Center on Halsted: Resource List
A great list of LGBTQ community resources including recovery and substance abuse support in Chicago.

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Wednesday, September 10, 8:51 PM written by About Face Theatre

Join us this Sunday for a special post-show discussion about recovery

After the Curtain Closes:
A look at the road to recovery

Date: September 14, 2014
Time: Immediately following the 4pm performance of “Methtacular!”
Location: Theater Wit | 1229 W Belmont Ave, Chicago

“Methtacular!” bravely shares Steven Strafford’s autobiographical story of the manic highs and devastating lows of the life of an individual addicted to drugs. The arc of the show focuses primarily on the years Strafford spent as an addict in Chicago, and leaves his story of recovery open to the imagination of the audience. We see the proof of his successful recovery in front of us in the form of this incredibly talent, gutsy performer, but we don’t really know how he got there.

With this panel discussion we intend to explore the recovery process from several perspectives including those who have gone through it to those that provide support in the Chicago area. Through this discussion we hope to address topics including: What triggers addictions? What factors specifically make the LGBTQ community particular susceptible to addiction? What is going through recovery like? What does recovery bring up and how do we deal with that? How can sharing stories like Steven’s (particularly in an artistic setting) effect this epidemic? If someone is struggling with addiction, what are some pathways for them to get help in Chicago?

Join us immediately after the show this Sunday, September 14th for this provocative discussion!

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Wednesday, July 16, 4:37 PM written by About Face Theatre

AFYT Co-Curates Salonathon


About Face Theatre’s Youth Task force is collaborating with Salonathon to curate an ALL-AGES evening of genre-defying performances! The goal of this evening is to provide an opportunity for young artists to further explore their art in a safe and comfortable environment.

In typical Salonathon format, we’ll share short works from a variety of artists, including:


This event is FREE. Come early to enjoy some refreshments and to grab a spot.

As always, we’re gonna have those sweet sweet beats from DJ SWAGUERRILLA!

SALONATHON is a home for underground, emerging & genre-defying art. Founded by Jane Beachy in July 2011, Salonathon takes place every Monday night at Beauty Bar, and Salonathon Presents produces one-off events and performance parties all around town. Salonathon is an engine for experimental work, an inclusive creative community, and a great party.

ABOUT FACE THEATRE‘s mission is to enhance the dialogue on gender and sexual identity, and its youth task force is a group of young adults in the About Face Youth Ensemble working to create community programming for other Chicago youth.

AFYT & Salonathon: DOCUMENTS
July 21st, 6-9pm

The Den Theatrer
1333 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622


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