Victory Gardens Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Executive Director Erica Daniels, announces the lineup for its 2019-2020 Season. Victory Gardens’ 45th Season will include the Chicago premiere of Tiny Beautiful Things by Nia Vardalos; the world premiere of The First Deep Breath by Lee Edward Colston II; the co-world premiere of How to Defend Yourself by Lily Padilla; and the world premiere of Dhaba on Devon Avenue by Madhuri Shekar; and the Chicago premiere of Right to Be Forgotten by Sharyn Rothstein.
“I’m thrilled to announce our 45th season of incredible American plays that speak to our current times,” said Artistic Director Chay Yew. “From an African American family grappling with a daughter’s death, to a South Asian immigrant battling his children over the fate of their family restaurant in Chicago, we are also giving a home to powerful plays that courageously address the issues of our country’s rape culture, and the right to privacy on social media. These relevant works speak truth to power and celebrate the best in our diverse nation, and inspire us to be better citizens.”
Victory Gardens Theater’s 45th Anniversary Season up close:
Tiny Beautiful Things
Based on the book by Cheryl Strayed
Adapted for the Stage by Nia Vardalos
Co-Conceived by Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kail, and Nia Vardalos
Directed by Vanessa Stalling
September 6-October 13, 2019
Press Opening: September 13, 2019
Based on the best-selling book by Cheryl Strayed and adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos, Tiny Beautiful Things personifies the questions and answers that “Sugar” was publishing online from 2010-2012. When the struggling writer was asked to take over the unpaid, anonymous position of advice columnist, Strayed used empathy and her personal experiences to help those seeking guidance for obstacles both large and small. Directed by Vanessa Stalling (Photograph 51 Court Theatre, A Shayna Maidel TimeLine Theatre, The Wolves Goodman) Tiny Beautiful Things is a story about reaching when you’re stuck, healing when you’re broken, and finding the courage to take on the questions which have no answers.
The First Deep Breath
By Lee Edward Colston II
Directed by Malika Oyetimein
November 15-December 22, 2019
Press Opening: November 22, 2019
Originally developed as part of Victory Gardens 2018 Ignition Festival of New Plays, The First Deep Breath tells the story of Pastor Albert Jones who is planning a special church service to honor his late daughter Diane on the sixth anniversary of her death. But when his eldest son, Abdul-Malik, returns home from prison, the First family of Mother Bethel Baptist Church is forced to confront a hornet’s nest of long-buried secrets. Written with a ferocious passion by Lee Edward Colston II and directed by Malika Oyetimein, The First Deep Breath finds each member of the Jones clan desperately fighting to stay afloat and disregarding the caution that sometimes a family that stays together drowns together.
Co-World Premiere with Actors Theatre of Louisville
How to Defend Yourself
By Lily Padilla
Directed by Marti Lyons
January 24-February 23, 2020
Press Opening: January 31, 2020
How to Defend Yourself circles around seven college students who gather for a DIY self-defense workshop after a sorority sister is raped. They learn how to “not be a victim", how to use their bodies as weapons, how to fend off attackers. The form of self-defense becomes a channel for their rage, trauma, confusion, anxiety, and desire--lots of desire. Challenged to determine what they want and how to ask for it, the students must ultimately face the insidious ways rape culture steals one's body and sense of belonging. Developed as part of Victory Gardens 2018 Ignition Festival of New Plays and the winner of the 2019 Yale Drama Series Prize, How to Defend Yourself is funny, raw and brutally honest - a triumph from playwright Lily Padilla. The production will be directed by Marti Lyons (Cambodian Rock Band, Native Gardens Victory Gardens, Witch Writers Theatre).
Dhaba on Devon Avenue
By Madhuri Shekar
Directed by Victory Gardens Artistic Director Chay Yew
March 27-April 26, 2020
Press Opening: April 3, 2020
Dhaba Canteen has been a Devon Avenue institution since the 60s, with their delicious Sindhi food transporting you back to the halcyon days of undivided India. Now it's on the verge of bankruptcy. And the family that has run it for generations is ready to go to war over its fate. Written by Madhuri Shekar, (Queen) and directed by Victory Gardens Artistic Director Chay Yew, it’s King Lear meets The Cherry Orchard in this Chicago story of fathers and daughters, of legacy, and of survival at all costs.
Right to Be Forgotten
By Sharyn Rothstein
Directed by Gary Griffin
May 29-June 28, 2020
Press Opening: June 5, 2020
The internet never forgets and a young man’s mistake at 17 haunts him online a decade later. Desperate for a normal life, he goes to extraordinary lengths to erase his indiscretion. But freedom of information is big business, and the tech companies aren’t going down without a fight. Secrets, lies and political backstabbing abound in this riveting new drama about one man’s fierce battle to reclaim his right to privacy. Playwright Sharyn Rothstein (By the Water, USA Network’s “Suits”), winner of the prestigious 2015 Primus Prize and whose work has been called “touching & affecting” (New York Times), has written a striking allegory about privacy, social media and human forgiveness in the age of the internet.
Subscriptions start at just $99 and will soon be on sale at www.victorygardens.org and by phone at the Victory Gardens Box Office at 2433 N. Lincoln. Please call 773.871.3000 with any questions.
Victory Gardens Theater is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
About Victory Gardens Theater
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Executive Director Erica Daniels, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals. Victory Gardens Theater is committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, set forth by Dennis Začek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.
Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theater work and cultivating an inclusive Chicago theater community. Victory Gardens’ core strengths are nurturing and producing dynamic and inspiring new plays, reflecting the diversity of our city’s and nation’s culture through engaging diverse communities, and in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, bringing art and culture to our city’s active student population.
Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater, a commitment recognized nationally when Victory Gardens received the 2001 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater includes the Začek-McVay Theater, a state-of-the-art 259-seat mainstage and the 109-seat studio theater on the second floor, named the Richard Christiansen Theater.
Victory Gardens Ensemble Playwrights include Luis Alfaro, Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Ike Holter, Samuel D. Hunter, Naomi Iizuka, Tanya Saracho and Laura Schellhardt. Each playwright has a seven-year residency at Victory Gardens Theater.
Victory Gardens Theater is proud to be part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, presented by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres. To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. Home to a community of creators, risk-takers and big hearts, Chicago theatre is a hotbed for exciting new work and hundreds of world premieres every year. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there’s always a seat waiting for you at one of our 200+ theatres. Book your next show today at ChicagoPlays.com.
For more information about Victory Gardens, visit www.victorygardens.org. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/victorygardens, Twitter @VictoryGardens and Instagram @victorygardenstheater.
Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The REAM Foundation, Shubert Foundation, Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation, Wallace Foundation. Additional major funding comes from Crown Family Philanthropies, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Polk Bros. Foundation.
Major funders also include: Allstate, Alphawood Foundation, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Edgerton Foundation, Exelon, Field Foundation of Illinois, The Harvey L. Miller Supporting Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Time Warner Foundation, Inc.
Additional funding provided by Robert and Isabelle Bass Foundation Inc., Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, Capital Group Private Client Services, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, ComEd, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Golden Country Oriental Foods, Goldman Sachs, John R. Halligan Foundation, Illinois Humanities Council (with support from the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety + Justice Challenge), ITW, Mayer Brown LLP, The McVay Foundation, Metropolitan Capital Bank and Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, Negaunee Foundation, Roberta Olshansky Charitable Fund, Origin Ventures, Pauls Foundation, PNC Financial Services Group, Prince Charitable Trusts, Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Wrightwood Neighbors Foundation.
In-kind support is provided by: Italian Village Restaurants, Southwest Airlines, Roy’s Furniture, Suite Home Chicago, and Whole Foods Market.
Capital improvement support from the Performing Arts Venue Fund at the League of Chicago Theaters, with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and Capacity Building support by Compass-Chicago.
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