In the new 17th-century-set swashbuckler, Sor Juana "duels with her literary alter ego Don Juan to discover her true power and identity."
The drama opens the 2007-08 season of the Tony Award-honored Victory Gardens at the Biograph Theater. Opening is Oct. 1.
Victory Gardens resident director Andrea J. Dymond stages Patricca's "revelatory new look at the life and times of Sor Juana, a woman of genius whose ideas and accomplishments were ahead of her time," according to VG production notes. "Sor Juana's chambers were the salon of the New World, where artists, scientists, scholars, and philosophers conversed without fear of the Inquisition. After a devastating betrayal, Sor Juana wrote her brilliant essay affirming the rights of women to participate as artistic and political leaders in the creation of culture and community. Throughout The Defiant Muse, Sor Juana and Don Juan, two of the most iconic figures in literary history, duel in intellectual wordplay and breath-taking swordplay of the La Destreza style. In the process, Patricca reveals Sor Juana's inspiring life story and her unusual path to spirituality and everlasting fame, while reflecting on issues of gender, power and identity still prevalent today."
Dan Kenney makes his Victory Gardens debut as Don Juan. Also cast are Dawn Alden (Lisi/Elvira), Desmin Borges (Fernandez), Maria Enriquez (Dona Maria/ensemble), Joseph Anthony Foronda (The Herald/Servant), Ricardo Gutierrez (Gongora), Kenn E. Head (Nunez), Raoul Johnson (Don Pedro, The Statue, The Hermit), Niall McGinty (Don Ottavio/ensemble), Lauran September Osborne (Dona Anna), and Kevin Viol (ensemble).
Designers include Keith Pitts (sets), Judith Lundberg (costumes), Charles Cooper (lights), Joseph Cerqua (sound and original compositions), Nick Sandys (fight choreographer) and Wilfredo Rivera (choreography). Tina M. Jach is production stage manager.
Nicholas A. Patricca, an internationally published and produced playwright, poet and essayist, has been active in the Chicago theatre movement since the mid-1970s, and is the author of 25 plays. He is a founding member of the Playwrights Ensemble at Victory Gardens, where his premieres include The Examen, Gardinias 'n' Blum and The Fifth Sun. All were directed by Dennis Zacek, and starred William J. Norris. He is also an artistic associate at Bailiwick Repertory, where his productions include An Uncertain Hour, Radiance of a Thousand Suns: The Hiroshima Project, winner of a Jeff Citation winner for Best New Play, and Oh, Holy Allen Ginsberg..., which went on to the Dublin Gay Theater Festival in 1996 and won the Oscar Wilde Award for outstanding achievement in new writing for the theatre.
The Defiant Muse has already been awarded a top international prize in the 2006 Alexander S. Onassis Foundation playwriting competition.
The Victory Gardens Biograph Theater is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, 1/2 block north of Fullerton in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens box office at (773) 871-3000, or visit www.VictoryGardens.org.