by Doug Wright
Directed by Andrew Volkoff
ABOUT FACE THEATRE
at THEATRE WIT, Stage 3
November 4 thru December 10
Originally written and staged for one performer, our production works under a new that I brought to Andrew back in October 2015. We have a multiple-actor cast with a transgender person (in this case, myself) portraying Charlotte, and the remaining 30+ roles played by other actors. We "test drove" the idea at a successful play reading back in April, and after receiving permission from playwright Doug Wright, the production was officially announced on June 20th as the first show in About Face's 2016-17 season.
Casting was completed in September. I read against the final "call-back" candidates, all of whom were very strong and after some schedule juggling Andrew announced AFT Associate Scott Duff as Doug, with the numerous ensemble roles to be covered by the exceptionally versatile Matt Holzfeind and Ninos Baba.
Publicity was exceptionally strong, fueled in part by curiosity over our new angle and perhaps even about myself, as the first transgender actor ever to perform this play. The marketing folks put my face on the poster, which appeared on business windows, etc. all around town (friends sent me photos of it) and even on the CTA Red Line trains.
For the second time this year, the previous time for my appearance in "Raggedy And", I was interviewed by The Windy City Times.
A photo-interview feature also headed the Arts Section of November's Chicago Magazine. Also shown here are "out takes" not published anywhere else and included here by kind permission of the photographer Matthew Avignone.
As we entered previews, I was invited to speak on the Vocalo radio program and with Scott and Andrew on WCPT's "Out Chicago" Sunday program.
As of now, with our previews and opening weekend behind us, response has been quite strong both from audiences and critics. I have chosen not to read reviews yet, but they're included here for your reference:
Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune
Jessie Bond, LA Splash
Catey Sullivan, Chicago Theatre Beat
Lawrence Bommer, Stage and Cinema
The role of Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf is large, and challenging. Adding to the mix, we opened just 2 days after the 2016 election results, still stunned by the horrible realization that America was about to become much like the world of this play -- Nazi and Communist Germany. Charlotte's tactics for survival, what she suffered, and the moral dilemmas she negotiated are now, in many ways, not unlike my own. Accordingly, certain speeches now have an unforeseen additional impact to audiences. And to myself as well. Just getting through some passages becomes a challenge, at times.
I will offer more personal thoughts and feelings after we have closed in December.