May 30th 2019

Performing Identities On (& Off) the Page:
Queer Femme Artists of Color

Building on a conversation begun with last Fall’s Applied Words: Performing Queerness On (& Off) the Page, this reading and performance panel brings together three Chicago-based queer femme artists of color working across writing and performance who use language, body, and voice to reconsider and confront the limitations and possibilities of identity in diverse ways.

Through three unique reading-performances and a moderated discussion, this evening will explore the performative possibilities of writing to both materialize and transform the experiences and identities of queer femme POC across a broad spectrum.

FREE ADMISSION//Drinks for a suggested donation



Unoma Azuah teaches writing at the Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago. Her research and activism focus on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights in Nigeria. Recently, she concluded a book project on the lives of gay Nigerians entitled, Blessed Body: Secret Lives of LGBT Nigerians. Her writing awards include the Hellman/Hammett Award; the Urban Spectrum Award for her debut novel, Sky-high Flames; and the Snyder-Aidoo Book Award for her novel, Edible Bones.

Ada Cheng is a professor-turned-storyteller, performing artist, and producer of several storytelling shows. She was a tenured professor at DePaul University for 15 years and taught on gender, race, sexuality, masculinity, and immigration. She debuted her first solo show, Not Quite: Asian American by Law, Asian Woman by Desire, in January 2017 and has since performed it at Kansas City’s National Storytelling Conference, Capital Fringe Festival in D.C., Minnesota Fringe Festival in Minneapolis, Boulder Fringe Festival, and Kum & Go Theater in Des Moines. She has performed her second solo show, Breaking Rules, Broken Hearts: Loving across Borders at The Exit Theatre in San Francisco, Theatre Row with the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York, and Theatre 68 with Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival in LA. Ada is the producer and the host of four storytelling shows, including Pour One Out: A Monthly Storytelling Series, Am I Man Enough?: A Storytelling/Podcasting Show, Talk Stories: An Asian American/Asian Diaspora Storytelling Show, and Speaking Truths Series. Her motto: Make your life the best story you tell.

A.J. McClenon was born and raised in “D.C. proper” and is currently based in Chicago using performance practices, sound, video, movement, theatre and writing to share experiences living in a Black body. AJ holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Arts with a minor in creative writing from the University of Maryland, College Park and has also studied at The New School. A.J. is interested in leveling the hierarchies of truth and hopes that all the memories and histories that are said to have “too many Black people” are told and retold again.

Felicia Holman is a lifelong Chicagoan, artist, Prince fan, and a co-founder of both the Art Leaders of Color Network (ALCN) and Honey Pot Performance (HPP). After serving as Communications Director, Felicia was recently promoted to Director of Performance Rentals at Chicago’s Links Hall. She also represents Links Hall on Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events’ Inclusion Committee for the 2019 “Year of Chicago Theatre.” Felicia creates, presents, and supports innovative interdisciplinary performance which engages audiences and inspires community. Her community/ communication-driven arts practice (“embodied storytelling”) informs her arts administration work. Felicia sums up her dynamic artrepreneurial life in 3 words: ‘Creator, Connector, Conduit’.


This program is a part of the Guild Literary Complex’s Applied Words series of multidisciplinary events and conversations on contemporary social issues.

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