Tag: LGBTQIA

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.”

DON’T MISS PULP!

November 12th & 13th at 7:30 pm

Stage 773

$15

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
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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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Thursday, January 15, 10:14 PM written by About Face Theatre

Behind the interviews: Kyla N.

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.
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INTERVIEW #3: Kyla N.

What inspired you to become part of this project?

The resonance it had with the community as a whole, especially within the LGBTQIA community. Across generations of oppressed and marginalized people, loneliness is a daily part of life. This piece is inspiring because it speaks to the similarities among groups of people thought to have nothing in common. This project will give youth, elders, and everyone in between common ground because we all know what it is to be isolated. This project will bring light to these profound yet simple human emotions that haunt the fringes of society. It is enlightening to share the most vulnerable part of yourself to strangers in hopes that they will connect deeply with a piece of art no matter what community they identify with.

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

Loneliness in the LGBTQIA community is isolation by discrimination. This community is plagued by othering. People in the LGBTQIA community are constantly being left out of the idea of normalcy. Society holds tightly to it’s strict gender binaries and heteronormativity. This pushes people within this community into isolation because holding their girlfriend’s hand on the CTA grants looks from strangers, because wearing a dress could potentially get someone beaten to a pulp, because according to many people, the LGBTQIA community is not valid. It’s tough to hear someone tell you that you are not valid, that you are somehow fundamentally flawed. LGBTQIA in both the young and older communities become isolated. They feel lonely. They are called names and meant to feel “weird” for being who they are. It is isolating to think that who you are is wrong. If this is the case, then you will never be “right” or “normal” because that goes against who you fundamentally are. The denial of who we are leads to isolation and denial of self. LGBTQIA people feel as if they are the only ones who feel this way, that they cannot relate nor will they ever feel as if their thoughts and feelings are valid. The fear of being different drives this loneliness that leaves LGBTQIA feeling isolated and alone. Too often it feels as if there is no way out, that there will always be an uphill battle with the ones around you and ultimately with yourself. This is why loneliness is so deeply rooted in the LGBTQIA community.

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

I hope this piece will get people in the LGBTQIA community to rally around one another, to increase the support for one another. Community can dilute loneliness. I hope this piece brings people outside of the community who will fight to uplift the LGBTQIA community. Not only to uplift, but to really connect to the loneliness and understand how much worse it may be. I want this to turn apathetic people outside of the community, into spokespeople for what the new idea of normal really is. To be normal is to be true to yourself. I also hope that this can strengthen the existing community and provide common ground for youth and elders despite the differences. I hope this project strengthens the existing community and embraces the people in the intersections as we look toward the future.

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?

The future, without a doubt, will be better as long you are dedicated to creating it. This future can only happen if you are dedicated to being the best person you can be, staying true to yourself, loving yourself and giving back to the community from which you took. Don’t forget the importance of your community. Know that there is always work to be done. Never stop believing in the power of art. Never buy into apathy.

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

I am still fighting for the community’s validity and I am standing on the shoulders of many people like you, who fought just to be seen.

Kyla is an actor, playwright and director in Chicago and is a member of About Face Theatre’s Youth Task Force.
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OutFront-SUND

OUT FRONT: STANDING UNDERNEATH NIGHT AND DAY
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 14, 11:52 PM written by AFT Theatre

Behind the interviews: Eric A.

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.
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INTERVIEW #2: Eric A.

What inspired you to become part of this project?

Initially SK reached out to me about this project. They didn’t get too in depth about what it was about. Once I was informed, I thought about how interesting the concept would be. The thought of loneliness in our community is something I would never have given a second thought to. In answering the questions, I got really emotional and started crying just thinking of issues that impact our community. I was inspired to lend my voice to our community. Art heals! Whether it be music, paintings, poetry readings, singing, drag – whatever it is! I’ve seen what About Face Theatre has done. Every time I leave a show of theirs, it really gets me thinking about the bigger picture of the issues in the plays. I was more than happy to bring a new play of theirs in About Face-style into fruition.

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

In our community, we experience isolation from the moment we realize our sexual identity. We become liars out of the fear of our most nurtured secrets. We learn to become our own security blanket, best friend, and our guard is always up. In putting our energies into our own protection we lose ourselves in the process. The world becomes a lonely place at this time. It makes me sad writing this and thinking about it because I know from experience this used to be my case. It feels like acceptance could be taken away in a matter of seconds. Friends you thought would be with you for a long time dissipate, family could look at you like you were a different person, people can call you names as you go about your daily life – and for what reason? Because you love the same gender or in other cases you don’t feel you were born in the correct gender you were assigned. This is what loneliness is in our community.

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

I hope that it makes people in our community bond. I’m aware of the shade that goes on. I hope that it can make everyone in the Queer alphabet soup join hands and walk through this journey together as brother and sister. I know this sounds like a church preaching but that would make me extremely happy. We need to fix our community internally so we can be a force to be reckoned with againest oppression.

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?

Life continues on, love always has a way to find you, and community will always back you up in times of strain.

Eric is a cast member of the online show QueerCode and is involved in HIV counseling and testing at Calor, a non-profit that provides HIV and AIDS serviced to the Latino and Hispanic community in Chicago.
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OutFront-SUND

OUT FRONT: STANDING UNDERNEATH NIGHT AND DAY
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.

Read more

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.
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INTERVIEW #1: BRUCE K.

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.

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OutFront-SUND

OUT FRONT: STANDING UNDERNEATH NIGHT AND DAY
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.

Read more

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

Behind the Scenes: “Standing Underneath Night and Day”

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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.
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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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