Pride Arts Center’s ‘LezFest’ showcase – Sunday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 pm

CHICAGO — LezFest, the popular and ever-evolving interdisciplinary program of performance by queer female and non-binary artists, will return for its eighth session on Sunday, December 16. Previously known as SheFest and WeFest, this twice-annual event will include performances by 12 artists in The Broadway theater of the Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway.

LezFest is produced by Allison Fradkin in collaboration with Iris Sowlat and hosted by Lihy Epstein.

LezFest touts the talents of Niki Gee, Breyanna McDaniel, Nire Nah, Jessica Martin, Ada Cheng, Khloe Janel, Jyreika Guest, Alexia Jasmene, Jacqui Jaurena, Ren Morris, and Cat Hepler.

Tickets are available now at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10348755 or by phone at 866-811-4111 or 773-857-0222.

Performer bios:

Lihy Epstein is the co-producer of Risqué Business, a performance event showcasing queer women, gender nonconformists, and non-binary folks. Lihy is business by day, community by night—when she isn’t focused on keeping the family business going, you can find her slamming, storytelling, or dragging across Chicago.

Niki Gee is a peaceful, loving, and puzzling presence who pens and performs poetic prose that presses upon her earthly siblings the need for peace, love, joy…and of course sex. Niki Gee reigns from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood but has graced stages all over the country, appearing in Strip Joker, WeFest, Collaboraction Theatre’s Peacebook, Homolatte, Salonathon, Beast Women Rising, Global Girls Anniversary Celebration, Foreplay, and Punany Poets. She is also the president of Quare Square, a collective for queer artists of color.

Breyanna N. McDaniel, artist name PROPHECY, lives in Dolton, IL, and has always had a keen interest in music and spoken word. Breyanna has been writing for eleven years and is proud to be LGBT as well as a spoken word artist.

Nire Nah is a singer-songwriter and visual artist whose work explores identity, philosophy, and survival. Her songs invite listeners on a winding journey through mental illness and addiction, ultimately expressing a message of hope, encouragement, and triumph. Her debut album, Coeur Age, was released in April of 2018.

Jessica L. Martin is a dancer, choreographer, and artist of the written word. They have experience in dance, ballet, modern, contemporary, and contact improvisation. They have performed at many venues in the Chicagoland area, often with Momenta Dance Company. They have produced their own show called Exploration, a project for all people of all abilities and all genders.

Ada Cheng is a professor turned storyteller and performing artist. She is the producer and host of Am I Man Enough?, a storytelling/podcasting show that critically examines the culture of toxic masculinity and the construction of masculinity and manhood, as well as Talk Stories, an Asian-American/Asian Diaspora storytelling show. She has appeared onstage in Breaking Rules, Broken Hearts: Loving Across Borders and Not Quite: Asian-American by Law, Asian Woman by Desire and on the page in Standing Up: From Renegade Professor to Middle-Aged Comic and Collegial Indecency: Sexual Assault in the Ivory Tower.

Khloe Janel is an actor, poet, and singer from Little Rock, Arkansas. They recently graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a B.A in Acting. They have performed all around Chicago as an actor and a poet and have appeared on the television shows Chicago Fire, The Chi, Easy, and Empire. They are currently working on their first poetry book, set to release in 2019.

Jyreika “J.Evelyn” Guest moved to Chicago five years ago. Recently seen onstage in The Fly Honey Show and Remy Bumppo’s Frankenstein, she has been featured in several festivals in the Chicagoland area: as dancer, poet, and storyteller at Ravenswood Art Walk; in Chicago’s own Beast Women: All-Female Cabaret for two seasons; and with Still Point Theatre Collective’s Strong Women, a play created from poetry written by the women of Cook County Jail. She uses her poetry, movement, and storytelling to help motivate and inspire others to realize their voices. In 2012, Ms. Guest opened for Civil Rights Activist Angela Davis, reciting an original piece entitled Courage. She treasures the opportunity to tell stories and to help others searching for their voice to find it, use it, and share it.

Alexia Jasmene is a trans actor/musician/comedian/poet who uses her various storytelling tools to plant seeds to change hearts and minds. By playing strong women, both cisgender and transgender, she uses representation as the hoe that breaks the soil for herself and others in order for those seeds to grow. She regularly performs acting, music, comedy, and poetry throughout the Chicagoland area and nationally.

Jacqui Jaurena is an actor who can’t seem to kick her comedy habit. A recent grad from Columbia College Chicago, she is excited to be working with Pride Films & Plays for the first time. She had the opportunity in college to work under the direction of Andrea Diamond on Hecuba and under Steve Scott on Melancholy Play. Her Chicago credits so far include work with Porchlight Music Theatre as well as several projects with Ricardo Bouyett Films.

Ren Morris has a degree in Music Education from the University of North Texas with a concentration in piano and voice, and is a recent graduate of Northwestern Law. Ren currently practices employment law at Proskauer Rose, LLP, and pretends to be a singer-songwriter in their spare time.

Catherine (Cat) Hepler is originally from Oakland, CA, where she began dancing at age three and gained a rich and varied dance foundation. Her background includes ballet, modern (Horton), contemporary, jazz, Bharata Natyam, Polynesian dance (hula and ori), and contact improvisation. In Chicago, she has danced as a company member with Renegade Dance Architects, BodyCompass Dance Project, Synapse Arts, and, most recently, Is/Land: A Performance Collaborative. Independently, Catherine is interested in the embodiment of concepts and the expression of emotion and social messages within dance works. She loves being part of freelance dance projects that explore those themes. One such project was Exploration: An Evening of Dance, Discovery, Creativity, and Fun with Jessica L. Martin.

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