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Event Series Event Series: “Dream Boy”

“Dream Boy”

March 22, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

The Process Series and the Department of Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill present a staged reading of Dream Boy, a new adaptation by Eric Rosen based on the eponymous, award-winning novel by Jim Grimsley. Dream Boy is a haunting story about forbidden gay love in the rural South in the 1970s. Struggling with sexual abuse from his alcoholic father, and denial from his mother, a rural North Carolina teenager, Nathan, finds escape and safety in the love he has for Roy, the popular boy next door.

“The majority of gay novels are about urban settings, and they’re not about adolescents. What’s out there now is a Northeastern, prep school point of view. It was never about my life,” Grimsley says. “And gay novels are not very often about relationships, and until Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison came along [1992], there were none set in the South.”

Eric Rosen is revisiting his earlier adaptation of Dream Boy, originally performed in an award-winning production at About Face Theatre in Chicago in 1996, where Rosen served as co-founder and artistic director. On this new adaptation, while in residence in North Carolina, he will be working with novelist Jim Grimsley, who will also be in residence.

“[Dream Boy] gave me the courage to choose a life in the theater,” says Rosen. He first adapted Dream Boy, when he was in graduate school at Northwestern in 1996, a time when he thought he was bound for a career in academia. The show’s reception opened another path.

While in Chapel Hill, Eric Rosen will be presenting two workshops: “From Aristotle to the Really Real: Ethnography, Oral History, and Theatrical Performance” and “Queer Performativities and Performance: Model from About Face Theatre.” For more information about these workshops, contact Joseph Megel at

The staged reading will be directed by Joseph Megel, artist in residence and director of the Process Series at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Eric Rosen was born in Asheville, North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed his doctorate in performance studies at Northwestern University. Rosen co-founded and served as Artistic Director of Chicago’s About Face Theatre from 1995-2008. There he produced the original production of the play I Am My Own Wife and Tennessee Williams’ One Arm directed by Moisés Kaufman. After his time at About Face, he served as the Artistic Director of Kansas City Repertory Theatre. He directed the original production of A Christmas Story: The Musical, which opened on Broadway in 2012. He is also known for his reimagining of classic musicals including Sunday in the Park with George, Pippin, and Hair. In 2000, he co-founded About Face Youth Theatre, which serves as an arts and advocacy program for at-risk LGBTQ youth in Chicago.

Jim Grimsley is a playwright and novelist whose first novel, Winter Birds won the 1995 Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and received a special citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. This was followed by Dream Boy, which won the American Library Association GLBT Award for Literature (the Stonewall Prize) and was a Lambda finalist. Future novels brought more accolades: My Drowning (Georgia Author of the Year); Comfort & Joy (Lambda finalist); Kirith Kirin (Lambda winner in the science fiction and horror category); Boulevard (Lambda finalist in the literature category, second Georgia Author of the Year designation); The Ordinary (Lambda winner in the science fiction/fantasy/horror category). The Last Green Tree was published by Tor Books of New York in 2006. Forgiveness was published by the University of Texas Press as part of the inaugural James. A. Michener Fiction Series.

He has published short fiction in The Ontario Review and Asimov’s and his stories have been widely anthologized. A story collection, Jesus Is Sending You This Message, was published in September 2008 by Alyson Books. In 2015 Grimsley published a memoir entitled How I Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Racist Lessons of a Southern Childhood.

Grimsley received the Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest Writers Award for his body of work in 1997, and has twice been a finalist for the Rome Prize Fellowship in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2005 he won an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

He served as playwright in residence at About Face Theatre in Chicago and has been playwright in residence at 7Stages Theatre in Atlanta since 1986. In 1987 he received the George Oppenheimer/Newsday Award for Best New American Playwright for Mr. Universe. His collection of plays, Mr. Universe and Other Plays, was published by Algonquin Books in 1998, and was a Lambda finalist for drama.

His books have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Hebrew, and Japanese.

This performance is presented by the performance studies program of the department of communication with support from the Beverly Whitaker Long Fund for Performance Excellence and the Provost Committee on LGBTQ life.

The performance is free and open to the public.



March 22, 2019
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm


UNC Chapel Hill Department of Communication
(919) 962-2311
View Organizer Website


Center for Dramatic Arts
Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Road, Chapel Hill, NC
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
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