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 2019-01-16
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



THEATER About Face Youth's 'Stories' examines everyday horrors
by Catey Sullivan

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Forget werewolves, aliens zombies and creatures from the black lagoon. The real monsters are lurking within and among us. With Scary Stories to Save Your Life, About Face Youth Theatre taps into horrors more terrifying than anything your basic scary movie franchise is apt fo crank out.

"There [are] no witches, no Frankensteins, no exorcisms," said youth ensemble member Via Haman, a freshman theater/psychology major at the University of Illinois, Chicago. "When I was writing my piece for the show, I was thinking about the day after the 2016 presidential election." Haman's "Help"—one of 12 playlets in the production—centers on a young person abandoned to the locked ward of what could be a "conversion therapy" unit.

Opening Saturday, July 14, at Center on Halsted, the Scary Story one-acts run about 10 minutes each. The 13-to-24-year-old playwrights set their stories in banal places: Hospitals, high schools, offices, homes. What transpires in these ordinary settings will leave you with a sense of unease ranging from pleasantly tingly to pass-the-Xanex.

Director Donny Acosta, 27, began working with the 10-member ensemble last October, leading weekly three-hour workshops that segued into rehearsals as the months went on. He started with a writing prompt.

"I asked everyone what their anxiety would look like if it were a monster," the Orange County native and veteran queer performance artist said. "If you could write a letter to your anxiety what would you say?" Acosta said.

Given the topics at hand, making the rehearsal room a safe space was an imperative.

"There's no room today to be uneducated about what's going on around us," said Haman. "But being educated can be scary, and we got really deep into some really scary things. There was a lot of hugs and a lot figuring out how to do self-care," they said.

Peruse the script and the necessity of a debriefing process becomes clear. In "Trust," social media takes a turn for the profoundly sinister. In "Red," life in an office turns bloody. In "Skin" a superficially "revitalizing and noble" political slogan is stripped down to its weaponized, deadly bones.

In sharing, the youths found solace and common ground. Haman, for example, related to "Red" and its take on traditional business culture.

"I had a job at the East Bank Club," they said of the upscale River North sports/spa/dining facility. "I was one of two out queers in 600 employees. We'd complain to each other about the gendered bathrooms and feeling invisible. We were working in a space that wasn't meant for us. That can make you anxious."

Acosta can relate. "Before I came to About Face full-time I worked as a shift supervisor for an online grocery delivery service. The atmosphere was super masculine and misogynistic. I had to be super careful about how I acted, what I said," he said.

Haman has been writing on Scary Stories' themes long before getting involved with the production. Their college entry essay was about being a non-binary person in a binary world. Haman's not one for labels. "I have never felt a connection to womanhood or manhood," they said. "There is So. Much. In. Between. I'm a person. I feel great as a human."

"I hope the play starts a dialogue," they said. "I hope it makes people more aware. It's like 'hey, there are humans being marginalized oppressed. What are you going to do about it?'"

Within the horrors of Scary Stories, Acosta said, there is truth and power. "As queer performers, we aren't represented a lot. Or when we are, it's as the sassy gay best friend. Or the tragic guy with Aids. The chance to tell our own personal stories through our lenses is empowering. "

And all the right kind of scary.

Scary Stories to Save Your Life runs July 14-22 at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St. Tickets are $20 or pay-what-you-can; 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

Digital lottery, rush tickets for 'Fiddler' 2019-02-02 - Broadway In Chicago announced that there will be a digital lottery and rush tickets for the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, ...

Gay News

New authors take on hard-hitting subjects at Playwrights Festival 2019-01-16 - 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 ...

Gay News

Fillet of Solo Storytelling Fest, Archy Jamjun, A Boy & A Diva Jan. 18, 25 2019-01-16 - Two-time The Moth GrandSLAM winner Archy Jamjun premieres his debut one man show, A Boy & A Diva, Jan. 18 and 25, as ...

Gay News

'Hedwig' tour in Chicago in 2019 2019-01-16 - John Cameron Mitchell—the Tony-winning, Golden Globe-nominated co-creator of Hedwig & the Angry Inch—will bring his rock spectacle to the United States for the ...

Gay News

Groundbreaking 'I AM... Fest' April 27-29 2019-01-16 - Black Lives, Black Words International Project will launch the I AM… Fest, in partnership with Goodman Theatre. This first-of-its-kind international festival will take ...

Gay News

Johnson/Nash book release party Jan. 31 2019-01-16 - A joint book release celebrating E. Patrick Johnson's Black. Queer. Southern. Women: An Oral History and Jennifer Nash's Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality ...

Gay News

OUT on Stage' Jan. 17 on Dekkoo 2019-01-16 - OUT on Stage: The Series will debut Thursday, Jan. 17, on LGBT subscription-based streaming network Dekkoo. Zach Noe Towers hosts the show, which ...

Gay News

18th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival line-up named 2019-01-16 - SketchFest Executive Producer Jill Valentine announced the official line-up for the 18th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, taking place through Jan. 20 at ...

Gay News

'Nina Simone' through March 2 2019-01-16 - Northlight Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, continues its 2018-19 season with Nina Simone: ...

Gay News

NUNN ON ONE Kristina Valada-Viars: Out actress discusses lengthy career 2019-01-16 - Out actress Kristina Valada-Viars continues to expand her life in theater. A big part of this is thanks to the Steppenwolf and ...


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 produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.