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click to enlarge Bex Ehrmann, Da Shona Johnson, Kyla Norton, and Daisianee Minenger

Bex Ehrmann, Da Shona Johnson, Kyla Norton, and Daisianee Minenger

Emily Schwartz

Thirteen members of the About Face Youth Theatre Ensemble, aged 14-24, present an hour-long theatrical collage of autobiographical reflections about growing up queer. Developed by the ensemble members themselves through improvisation and writing workshops, the devised performance piece employs monologues, scenes, and choral speaking passages addressing the challenges and triumphs of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and genderqueer. Some of the coming-out/coming-of-age stories have a familiar ring—parents who tell their kids that their discomfort with gender norms is "just a phase," for example. Other pieces are stark reminders of the uniquely tumultuous times this generation of youth lives in, such as Da Shona Johnson's powerful, rapid-fire soliloquy referencing the mass murder in Orlando and the campaigns by state legislators to exploit "bathroom bills" for political purposes. There is humor here too, and a tenderness rooted equally in strength and vulnerability. The cast—who set a standard for diversity in terms of race, gender, and physical type that professional stages would do well to emulate—are poised but not "polished"; their unaffected honesty is engaging, illuminating, and inspiring. —Albert Williams



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