Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-06-26
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



New authors take on hard-hitting subjects at Playwrights Festival
by Sean Margaret Wagner

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

With this year's crop of student one-acts, Pegasus Theatre Chicago is tackling homophobia, gentrification and other urban ordinariness that carries a political charge for a trio of female authors.

The 32nd Young Playwrights Festival features pieces like Luna MacWilliams' Good Strong Coffee, and Alexis Gaw's The Green Light, as these young authors explore what it's like to be queer and underrepresented today.

The festival is the first foray into playwriting for both Alexis Gaw, a Lane Tech College Prep student, and Luna MacWilliams, a Wesleyan University student ( formerly with Whitney M. Young Magnet High School ). "A Green Light was the first one-act I'd ever completed," said Gaw. "Lane Tech students are always encouraged to submit their plays from this unit to the festival. My drama teacher and a few friends of mine convinced me to do it, not that I needed much convincing." Good Strong Coffee was also a first for MacWilliams. "I've acted and been extremely involved in theatre my whole life," MacWiliams said, "but I've never tried my hand at playwriting."

The Green Light explores the latent homophobia that emerges when Patrick comes out of the closet to his closest friend, and Good Strong Coffee follows brother and sister Ernesto and Violeta as they keep their family's struggling coffee shop open while pursuing their own loves.

Gaw took inspiration from Patricia Hysmith's novel The Price of Salt, a lesbian romance notable for its rare happy ending in a genre often marred by punishment or tragedy for openly gay characters. "Casual bigotry is a lot more prevalent these days than people are willing to admit, and in some ways, particularly in urban environments, it's more pervasive than the overt kind of hatred," said Gaw. "I just wanted my main character to have a happy ending. It's such a big ask for LGBT media sometimes, although it is becoming less so."

For Good Strong Coffee, MacWilliams focused her story on a young, queer biracial woman because of how often they go unrepresented onstage. "I want to tell stories about real people. And to me, real people are queer. Not always, but they can be. It's that simple," MacWilliams said. "I wanted to tell a story about myself and my parents, my grandma and my neighbors. I think these stories are beautiful and valid and more than deserve their fair share of space onstage."

Their scripts were chosen from over 500 student submissions in this year's festival, and they were paired with a professional director and acting team. McGaw was matched with director Joan Mazzonelli for Green Light, and MacWilliams was paired with Pegasus' own executive director and producer of the festival since 2006, Ilesa Duncan.

Both Mazzonelli and Duncan come from backgrounds of new play development, with a great passion devoted to emerging authors and new work. "I'm passionate about new work and love the collaborative process of bringing it to life. A large part of my professional career has been as an arts educator/administrator," said Duncan. "The aspect of student writers being able to see their work professionally produced is immeasurable."

Both directors spoke glowingly about working with Gaw and MacWilliams, and the pleasure it was to help bring their work to life for the first time. "These are the stories that connect us to what's top of mind for many of today's young people," Duncan said. "The dawning of their talent and as the future of our industry, and that they connect deeply to their stories, themes and ideas."

"Alexis' voice and the voices of the other authors in the Young Playwrights Festival are literate, and smart," said Mazzonelli. "Their perspective is different. They have a fresh, honest and open vision. They have something to say and they need to be heard. These new young writers and artists are going to save the world. We need to listen and get on board."

Gaw and MacWilliams are both thrilled to have their work staged, and are hoping their audiences leave inspired. "I don't think I wrote a political play. I wrote a play about a boy, who happens to love other boys, and what this means for his friendships and his place in the world," Said Gaw. "He wants to be loved. It's a common experience for LGBT people, who might see their own emotions playing out on the stage. I know, because they're mine."

"I hope they laugh, I hope they smile, I hope they feel a little bit sad, I hope they feel a little bit angry at the world," said MacWilliams, " but mostly, I hope they feel involved."

Pegasus Theatre Chicago's 32nd Young Playwrights Festival runs through Saturday, Jan. 26, at The Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. To reserve tickets, visit .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Something Clean 2019-06-26 - Playwright: Selina Fillinger At: Sideshow Theatre and Rivendell Ensemble at Victory Gardens Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: 773-871-3000;; $20-$30. Runs through: ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The River 2019-06-26 - Playwright: Jez Butterworth At: Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: Runs through: July 28 It's both simple and impossible ...

Gay News

Critics' Picks 2019-06-26 - La Havana Madrid, Teatro Vista @ The Den, extended through 30 June—Last two weeks to see this thrice-remounted musical about Chicago's Latinx history, ...

Gay News

The Second City salutes Pride 2019-06-22 - The Second City's Salute to Pride is waving a welcoming flag this June with an all LGBTQ identifying cast. Head upstairs to UP ...

Gay News

Steppenwolf Theatre Company Extends Ms. Blakk for President 2019-06-21 - CHICAGO ( June 21, 2019 ) — Due to popular demand, Steppenwolf Theatre Company has added seven more performances to the run of ...

Gay News

Hell in a Handbag to present The Drag Seed world premiere July 5 2019-06-20 - CHICAGO ( June 19, 2019 ) — Hell in a Handbag Productions continues its 2019 season with the world premiere of THE DRAG ...

Gay News

Windy City Times and Reader Theater Series 2019 2019-06-18 - Click on the link for full schedule and registration form: . ...

Gay News

THEATER Elizabeth Rex 2019-06-18 - Playwright: Timothy Findley At: Oak Park Festival Theatre at Austin Gardens, 167 Forest Ave., Oak Park. Phone: 847-; $15-$35. Runs through July 21 ...

Gay News

About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble to debut '20/20' 2019-06-18 - The About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the world premiere of 20/20—a dive into recent queer history devised ...

Gay News

Terence Alan Smith: The real 'MS. BLAKK' 2019-06-18 - Terence Alan Smith, the Detroit native behind the drag persona Joan Jett Blakk, is still taken aback that a portion of his life ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.