Even though the 2010 theater season is not quite over, it is fun to look toward 2011-2012 to see what shows are going to be entertaining audiences or sparking conversations.
The first of a preview series looks at About Face Theatre’s (AFT) 16th season.
“Our filter is that we look for shows that inspire dialogue,” said AFT Artistic Director Bonnie Metzgar. She also pointed out that About Face dialogue explores sexuality and gender.
The Kid Thing by Artistic Associate Sarah Gubbins and directed by Joanie Schultz starts the season. The play is about two lesbian couples whose longtime friendship is shaken by a pregnancy announcement. First heard at a Steppenwolf reading, the production is a world premier co-production with Chicago Dramatists that will be mounted at 1105 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago.
Run, Mourner Run, is AFT’s winter production. Combining African-American storytelling and gospel revival with Greek tragedy and blues, the playis adapted by Tarell Alvin McCraneyfrom a short story in Randall Kenan’s award winning Let the Dead Bury the Deadcollection. Location will be announced later in the year.
Rent, with book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, is AFT’s spring show. Teamed with American Theater Company Artistic Director PJ Paparelli, the production promises to be a starker version of the rock opera that won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize. The show will be at the American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St., Chicago
What’s the T? Examining the T in LFBTQis an About Face Youth Theatre summer show directed by Sara Kerastas, with location to be announced.Youth Theatre projects typically are taken into Chicago Public Schools during the following school year.
Metzgar is excited about the coming season and the collaborations but it is working on Rent that strikes closest to her own heart.
“I was one of those kids in the play,” said Metzgar who went to New York after studying playwriting at Brown University. Just don’t expect the rock musical of a generation ago.
She and Paparelli are interested in Rent’s bones.
“The original was cleaned up. We open it up. We’re back at the underlying story. It is stripped down to the essentials. You have no money. You’re in a big city. You are young and trying to find yourself,” said Metzgar.
Audiences should recall that the show is set at the end of the 1980’s, a tough economic era that was also in the middle of the AIDS crisis.
“You have struggles with disease and are also enjoying being young. You are holding both in your heart,” said Metzgar.