"I REALLY DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT Idueer history!" admits Ruth Oppenheim-Rothschild a 16-year-old member of Chicago's About Face Youth Theater. She knew only vaguely about the Stonewall riots "But that was bout it" she says. "Before that I didn't think there was any kind of society."
"Being able to more about that part of my own history was an incredible feeling" Oppenheim Rothschild says.
About Face Youth Theater is an award-winning ensemble that performs stones based on the true-life experiences of lesbian gay bisexual transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and there allies. The group is currently expanding upon nationality recognized productions of. "First Breath" and "Raising Voices" and will stage its third installment in June 2001.
The performances are a result of research gathered by the young participants during six months of workshops and interviews with Chicago area LGBTQ youth. The focus this year is on gathering stories from queer youth all over the world through the Internet.
Last year, the focus was on "finding a place" in queer history. "We had this one scene in the show last year called "Gende is Round" recalls Megan Camey, an adult artistic member of the troupe. "It was all girls in the cast and it was about our lesbian foremothers and where we look for inspiration and who we admire." An early reading sparked debate among participants -- about feminism and foremothers, about whether butches and femmes are just modeling the patriarchy and whether feminist separatists were really fascists.
Working in collaboration with the Horizons Community Center one of Chicago's oldest and most respected queen community centers. About Face has also bridged the gap between queer youth and queer adults. "I find the youth who come through our door really inspiring to be around" says Carney. "It is a very personal reward.