Victory Gardens Premieres Race Relations Drama, Court-Martial at Fort Devens | Playbill

News Victory Gardens Premieres Race Relations Drama, Court-Martial at Fort Devens
The Tony Award-honored Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago unveils the world premiere of Court-Martial at Fort Devens, by VGT ensemble member Jeffrey Sweet, Feb. 2.

The new drama about U.S. military race relations during World War II continues the theatre's 2006-07 all-world premiere inaugural season in its new Biograph Theater Mainstage. Performances play to March 11. Opening night is Feb. 12.

VGT is a playwrights theatre known for nurturing an ensemble of writers.

"Court-Martial at Fort Devens tells of a confrontation during World War II between privates who happened to be black women, a white colonel determined to keep them in their place, and the heroic black lawyer who took their case with a little help from Eleanor Roosevelt," according to VGT notes. "Big news in the black press at the time, Court-Martial at Fort Devens resurrects a moment in U.S. history, which today is unfamiliar to most."

Andrea J. Dymond directs a cast that includes Velma Austin (as Tenola Stoney), Lili-Anne Brown (Victoria Lawson, Eleanor Roosevelt), James Krag (as Colonel Kimball, others), Morocco Omari (as Steele, others), Ericka Ratcliff (as Virginia Boyd), Samantha D. Tanner (as Johnnie Mae, others) and Philip Edward Van Lear (as Julian Rainey, Virginia's father).

The design team includes Mary Griswold (set), Birgit Rattenborg-Wise (costumes), Charles Cooper (lights) and Victoria DiIorio (sound). Rita Vreeland is production stage manager. The new Victory Gardens Theater at the Biograph is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, a half 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


Court-Martial at Fort Devens is the 12th production of Jeffrey Sweet's 25-plus year association with Victory Gardens. A long-running production of Porch started it all in 1979, followed over the years with highly regarded productions of Ties, The Value of Names, Flyovers, Bluff, The Action Against Sol Schumann, Immoral Imperatives and Berlin '45. Scores of productions of these works have been performed around the country, in New York and around the world as well as on radio and TV. Most recently, The Value of Names earned acclaim at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse featuring Jack Klugman opposite Dan Lauria.

His plays have won the Jefferson Award (and three Jefferson nominations), two American Theatre Critics Association playwriting awards (and several nominations), a "Best Plays" citation, the Outer Critics Circle Award and a Kennedy Center-American Express honor.

For more information, visit

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