First Breath: About Face Youth Theatre | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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First Breath: About Face Youth Theatre

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FIRST BREATH: ABOUT FACE YOUTH THEATRE, About Face Theatre. This remarkable collaboration between About Face Theatre and kids from Horizons Community Services gives audiences an inspiring glimpse into the lives of queer teenagers. Eric Rosen's intelligent staging uses percussive rhythms, high-energy music, and kaleidoscopic shifts in narrative style to shape their stories and poems. And the seamless variations of Greta Fisher's lighting design transform the simple stage into a rave, a dreamscape, a prom auditorium, or just a place where an actor can sit comfortably and talk with the audience.

The tight-knit, mutually supportive ensemble works together as a passionate unit. And the stories are fabulous, treating gay teens' courage and struggles with a practical pride that's bound to change the world as these kids claim their adult power. Rosen gathered the stories from workshops with other Horizons teens as well as from the ensemble, then loosely arranged their experiences around themes: children's games; "the time I felt like a girl/boy"; coming out as gay, bi, or transsexual; getting tested for HIV; gay bashing; falling in love. These overlapping stories produce a dynamic celebration of solidarity through difference, as unique lives are bound together by the uncertainty of being young and queer at the end of the gay 90s.

I hope that the adaptation of the show planned for an upcoming tour of area high schools is as sexy, angry, honest, whimsical, goofy, and sad as First Breath in its present form--in short, that it's also a miracle of well-produced, compelling community theater.

--Carol Burbank

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