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About Face Theatre Moves to Edgewater

Founded by Kyle Hall and Eric Rosen in 1995, About Face Theatre creates plays and produces work that advances the national dialogue on gender and sexual identity. The aim is to challenge and entertain audiences in Chicago, across the country, and around the world. They are at the center of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally (LGBTQA) arts and amplify the nation’s leading voices to spark social change. The organization thrives as an inclusive home where diverse artists, youth, audiences and community partners come together for artistic exchange and cultural dialogue.

Photo by Michael Brosilow

Photo by Michael Brosilow

About Face Theatre has spent over the last 10 years in an apartment space in the Uptown neighborhood. Recently, they got a notice from their landlord informing the theatre company that they would have to find another space to house their offices. They began a hunt for a new home big enough to host their administrative, education and rehearsal space. They came upon a huge 7,000 square foot space available on the second floor of a building at the corner of Berwyn and Broadway (Above Coffee Chicago). They knew right away that this new open space would provide them an opportunity to expand and stabilize the organization. They would be able to grow both literally and figuratively in a way they previously only dreamed about.

“It has been a wonderful transition and move for us. Our plan is to become a creative hub for the arts community. We will be turning a lot of the floor plan into rehearsal and office spaces for other small arts organizations that want to expand outside of their living rooms. We have an opportunity to serve the Chicago theatre community with space that can facilitate more collaborations across arts organizations. We want to create a ‘hive’ of sorts, with a lot of buzz from our city’s artists and their work,” states About Face Theatre Artistic Director, Andrew Volkoff. “This neighborhood is a superb neighborhood to be a part of. I hope we can help Harry (Osterman) turn this into a new arts neighborhood. Theaters are already based here and moving up north to places like Andersonville, Edgewater, and Rogers Park, due to the accessibility, the support of the arts, the creative culture of the community, and we want to be a part of that creative hub.”

Volkoff recently joined About Face as their Artistic Director in the last year. Originally from Milwaukee but having lived in New York for the last twenty-some years, he considers his new role in Chicago a home-coming of sorts. Prior to the move he and the organization worked hand-in-hand with Harry Osterman to secure the space. He cites the alderman’s office as being pivotal in pushing for the arts community to have a strong presence in the neighborhood.

With other amazing theatre companies such as Raven Theatre, Rivendell Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, pH Productions, the Neo-Futurists, and many others, the North side of the city is becoming the city’s location to find new, creative and innovative theatre productions. It begs the question of whether the Edgewater neighborhood is perhaps in need of a large dedicated space for the arts.

While About Face does not have their own performance venue or theatre for their work, they have a multi-faceted season that includes 3 productions at theaters they collaborate with. This summer they are extremely excited to participate in the Chicago Park District’s Theatre in the Park series. They will be performing at 4 different parks around the city which will enable them to reach out to communities they would not have access to otherwise. They launched June with a Pride performance series to celebrate the LGBTQ community and artistic works surrounding LGBTQ topics.

Their Education and youth focus is a major portion of their programming and runs parallel to all performance scheduling. They go into schools to do anti-oppression and anti-bullying training. About Face Theatre uses theatre as an active form of expression to discuss topics not often covered in school including a program in which actors perform their own stories. The youth then participate in a dialogue that breaks down and discusses the show post-performance. About Face also has an annual youth production in which the participants pick an issue which is worked on for a full year with the Education Director in workshops that leads to a year end performance.

Welcome to the neighborhood About Face Theatre!

 


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