Pride has come to Chicago once again. It is time to take to the streets and celebrate the diversity that gives our city so many reasons to be excited. About Face Theatre is one of those reasons. This season the dynamic institution dedicated to the exploration of sexuality and gender issues will have new artistic leadership. Award-winning producer, director and playwright Bonnie Metzgar has taken the helm as artistic director and is excited to continue the company’s dynamic programming. Although Metzgar won’t make it to the parade this year—she is currently traveling Africa with her partner—she did take a few minutes to share a little bit about how she got here and what she is looking forward to as she makes Chicago her home.
How did you get to Chicago and About Face?
I spent the last year traveling around the U.S. for the 365 Festival with Suzan-Lori Parks. We partnered with 600 theaters; fifty-two of them were here in Chicago. Congo Square, Next, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Writers, Hypocrites—I learned fast that, wow, the Chicago theater scene is amazing! Bold artists, bold audiences—that’s my kind of town. So when the opportunity with About Face came up, I jumped at it. About Face has always had a unique place in the American theater as a home for new work that furthers the national dialogue on sexuality and gender.
How do you plan to continue what is great about About Face?
I will continue the commitment to artistic excellence and to developing the voice of our youth. I will expand the tradition of collaboration by continuing to find new ways to reach out to the community. And I will throw really great parties. I am excited and proud to be producing our whole season at the Center on Halsted. The Hoover-Leppen Theater is gorgeous! And having a home in the heart of the LGBTQ community feels right.
What excites you about Chicago?
Chicago is fierce—in its commitment to the arts, its celebration of diversity and in its history of political struggle. So for someone like me who is interested in the messy intersection of art and politics, Chicago is a fascinating place to be in 2008.
The country is changing for the LGBTQ community. What is the role theater can and must play in shaping perceptions and advancing LGBTQ causes?
The country is not changing for us. We are changing the country—by working hard, building bridges, making art that moves us all closer to each other. We need to feel the urgency in each day—as citizens and artists, in our homes, in the streets and in our art—if we dare to believe that another world is possible.
What message do you have for the LGBTQ community as we enter this year’s gay pride celebration?
Our community is in all communities. Reach out. Beyond your comfort zone. And support LGBTQ artists in Chicago during pride and all year round! (William Scott)
Learn more about Bonnie Metzgar and About Face Theatre at aboutfacetheatre.com