Playwrights Sherman, Cruz, Brown, Patricca and Johnson Sown Into Victory Gardens' 2007-08 Season

News   Playwrights Sherman, Cruz, Brown, Patricca and Johnson Sown Into Victory Gardens' 2007-08 Season
Victory Gardens Theater, the Tony Award-honored resident Chicago troupe devoted to new plays written primarily by its own "ensemble" of playwrights, has announced a 2007-08 season of four world premieres.

Playwrights represented include VGT ensemble members Nicholas A. Patricca and James Sherman, plus Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, Carlyle Brown and Joel Drake Johnson.

The season will see the return of the holiday musical The Snow Queen, with songs by Michael Smith and direction by Frank Galati.

The 2007-08 Victory Gardens slate includes:

  • The Defiant Muse (Sept. 21-Oct. 28), world premiere by Ensemble playwright Nicholas A. Patricca, directed by Andrea J. Dymond. "Swordplay. The fantastical theatricality of Baroque Theater. A 17th-century tale with a very modern hero. Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, the most celebrated writer in Mexican history, duels with the imaginary Don Juan, her literary alter ego, to reveal the spiritual process through which she discovers her true power and identity. Her chambers become the salon of the New World, where artists, scientists, scholars, and philosophers converse without fear of the Inquisition. After a devastating betrayal, Sor Juana writes the brilliant essay affirming the rights of women to participate as artistic and political leaders in the creation of culture and community." The Defiant Muse was awarded a top international prize in the 2006 Alexander S. Onassis Foundation playwriting competition.


  • A Park in Our House (Oct. 26–Dec. 9), Chicago premiere by Nilo Cruz, directed by VGT artistic director Dennis Zacek in a co-production with Teatro Vista. "Political struggles and a loss of innocence are recurrent themes in the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz (Anna in the Tropics). A Park in Our House is no exception. '[In it] every character dreams or imagines a better place,' writes Cruz. In this poetic portrait of the passionate heart of a family caught in Castro's Cuba in 1970, hope becomes visceral and dreams only more vivid. Cruz tells a lovely, bittersweet story of a family — a microcosm of a society warped by Communism — that rises above the merely political and unfolds as gently as a memory." A Park in Our House will be presented on the intimate Burstein Mainstage at the Victory Gardens Greenhouse, 2257 North Lincoln Avenue.
  • A Big Blue Nail (Jan. 25–March 2, 2008), world premiere by Carlyle Brown, directed and designed by Loy Arcenas. "A phantasmagorical tale that examines explorer Robert Peary's fame as the first man to reach the North Pole, which obscured the contributions of Matthew Henson, his African-American cohort who could rightfully claim the title. Now at the end of his life, with the estranged Henson knocking at his door, Peary is swept into a hallucinatory nightmare on the chaotic Polar Sea, the coast of Maine, and the terrifying landscape of his guilt-ridden mind. Ranging from a surreal natural history museum to a carnival parade of dignitaries to a Dickensian visit of the future, A Big Blue Nail is uniquely suited to director Loy Arcenas' (The Romance of Magno Rubio) theatrical vocabulary."
  • Four Places (March 28–May 4, 2008), world premiere by Joel Drake Johnson, directed by Sandy Shinner. "Peggy's usual lunch date (and usual lunch drink) with her middle-aged children turns from routine conversation to life-changing revelation. Peggy, alternately sweet and acerbic, skillfully maneuvers to keep control of her waning power. Her two children must come to grips with the fact that parents, at any age, have lives that may be very independent of their children's. Johnson creates indelible characters — outrageously funny and painfully human." Johnson's recent Before My Eyes and The End of the Tour at Victory Gardens, as well as A Fall to Earth and A Blameless Life at Steppenwolf, "walk the line exquisitely between humor and compassion."
  • Relatively Close (June 6-July 13, 2008), world premiere comedy by Ensemble playwright James Sherman, directed by Dennis Zacek in a co-world premiere with Illinois State University School of Theater. "Three sisters return to the family vacation home on the shores of Lake Michigan, where they spent the summers of their childhood. Now the sisters are grown, the parents are gone, and the house is just sitting there. What should they do with the property? One sister wants to keep it, one sister wants to sell it, and one sister just wants everyone to get along. With their respective spouses and one teenager in tow, will they even make it to the end of the week? Not likely!" Sherman is author of Victory Gardens' popular Beau Jest, From Door to Door and Affluenza!.
  • The Snow Queen (Nov. 30-Dec. 23, 2007) by Hans Christian Andersen, music and lyrics by Michael Smith, directed by Frank Galati, puppet and visual design by Blair Thomas and Company. "One of the biggest box office hits in our history, The Snow Queen returns for the holidays with a magical new scenic design and the same haunting and hilarious music that charmed young and old alike. The Snow Queen, whose kisses are ice, takes her audience on a wild ride into the realm of myth and dream, where a talking reindeer, wooden soldiers, an enchantress, and a robber girl help lovely Gerda find her frozen friend Kai." Victory Gardens makes its home at the historic Biograph Theater in Chicago. Its current world premiere is I Sailed With Magellan by Stuart Dybek, adapted for the stage by Claudia Allen, through July 15. According to VGT notes, "Claudia Allen turns her skilled hand to Dybek's first work of fiction — inspired by his memories growing up in 1950s and '60s Chicago — City of Big Shoulders, from Little Village to the lake front, Baha'i Temple to Maxwell Street. Swim off the rocks. Down a shot at the Zip Inn. Get chased across Wrigley Field. Have sex on the beach — almost. Breathe deep and listen to Dybek's wonderful memories and provocative characters: passionate, poetic, profane and joyous."

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