Artistic Director Bonnie Metzgar and Executive Director Jason Held present the world premiere of WHAT'S THE T? by Sara Kerastas and the About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble, directed by Eric Hoff. The press opening is tonight, July 20th at 7:30pm at the Red Tape Theatre (621 West Belmont Ave, 2nd fl).
Internet personality/trans activist/ fierce community leader Ms. Ma uses her YouTube page to create community, live glamour, and spread the good word about queer safe spaces in Chicago. WHAT'S THE T tells the story of Ms. Ma's tangled web of connections, her struggle to stay positive, and what happens to her community when she disappears. Inspired by issues of race, gender, age and class in Boystown, WHAT'S THE T is based on true stories and interviews from LGBTQA youth and adults in and around Chicago.
The production team includes scenic and properties designer Tom Slazinski, costume designer Mieka van der Ploeg, lighting designer Jeff Glass, sound designer Erik Roldan, choreographer Nic K, producer Michael Holtzman and stage manager Ellen Willett.
"There's a whole storyline in the play that takes place on the Internet - with two people documenting their lives through YouTube videos, and ultimately building a relationship in that digital elusive space," says playwright, Sara Kerastas. This play is so right now. The story speaks to how we communicate right now. How we build, how we own, and how we use space right now."
After completing its run at Red Tape Theatre, the About Face Youth Ensemble will perform WHAT'S THE T? at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen for three performances on Friday, Aug 3 and Saturday Aug 4. By facilitating the engagement of Chicago's youth communities, About Face seeks to spark dialogue, forge connections and fulfill its social justice approach to theater-making.
The About Face Youth Theatre (AFYT) was created in 1998 as a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and allied young people to become activists and theatre-makers. Youth participants engage in a two-year process of sharing stories, conducting interviews, writing a script, and developing performances to create a full-length production that is produced in About Face Theatre's mainstage season. WHAT'S THE T began with the theme of trans identity, but after year-one, the youth ensemble chose to take it a step further by using this theme to address the significant tensions arising in the queer community. As such, the play looks at issues of race, gender, class and age in the queer community, with trans characters at the heart of the story. For 13 years, The Youth Theatre has sought changes within the larger community through innovative thought, dialogue, and performance. AFYT hopes to move their ensemble from positions of marginalization into positions of inclusion and power.
WHAT'S THE T? runs now through 29 at Red Tape Theatre, located at 621 W. Belmont Ave. Shows are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Additional performances are at the National Museum of Mexican Art on Friday, Aug 3 at 7pm and Saturday, Aug 4 at 3pm & 7pm. For tickets, visit aboutfacetheatre.com or call (866) 811-4111.