Victory Gardens Theater to Stage World Premiere of THE GOSPEL OF LOVINGKINDNESS, 2/28-3/30

Victory Gardens Theater to Stage World Premiere of THE GOSPEL OF LOVINGKINDNESS, 2/28-3/30

Victory Gardens Theater continues its season with the World Premiere of The Gospel of Lovingkindness by Victory Gardens Ensemble Playwright Marcus Gardley, directed by Artistic Director Chay Yew. The Gospel of Lovingkindness runs February 28 - March 30, 2014 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue.

The cast for The Gospel of Lovingkindness includes: Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Tosin Morohunfola, Ernest Perry, Jr. and Jacqueline Williams.

The creative team includes: Kevin Depinet (scenic), Samantha Jones (costumes), Lee Fiskness (lighting), Mikhail Fiksel (sound), Jesse Gaffney (props). Tina M. Jach is the stage manager and Jaret Landon is the music director.

"I grew up in Oakland, California, one of the most violent cities in America. It was impossible to deny the effect violence had on my life, my family, and my community. I've known too many people whose lives were cut short, and had my first personal experience with an attack before the age of ten. As I spend more time in Chicago, I remain surrounded by the violence I've witnessed my whole life. Every day, it seems I hear about a new shooting and a new victim, and I often feel powerless to do anything about it," says playwright Marcus Gardley.

Gardley continues, "The Gospel of Lovingkindness is my attempt to start a healing process in Chicago through the stage at Victory Gardens. This story was inspired by many experiences from my own life and from the tragedies that occur all too often in this city. These characters and their circumstances, while fictional, are composites of real-world people. Instead of telling one person's story, I've tried to tell them all at once. I hope that, in the end, this will be Chicago's story--relevant to all its residents. Perhaps, by sharing a play that explores a common experience, we can find communal healing."

One mother sees her son struggle to find his place in the world, and another sees her son live his dream. When these proud women meet, everything--their lives, their families, their city--is sent over the edge. As fervent and poetic as a gospel hymn, this drama about faith, family, and loss was inspired by true events.

MARCUS GARDLEY is a poet-playwright who was awarded the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels award for Mid-Career Playwright. His most recent play, Every Tongue Confess, premiered at Arena Stage starring Phylicia Rashad and directed by Kenny Leon. It was nominated for the Steinberg New Play Award, the Charles MacArthur Award and was a recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. His musical, On The Levee, premiered last summer at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater and was nominated for 11 Audelco Awards including outstanding playwright. Last spring, his play, And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi, was produced at The Cutting Ball Theater and received the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award nomination for outstanding new play and was extended twice. He has had six plays produced including dance of the holy ghost at Yale Repertory Theatre (now under a Broadway option,) (L)imitations of Life, at the Empty Space in Seattle, and like sun fallin' in the mouth at the National Black Theatre Festival. He is the recipient of a Helen Merrill Award, a Kesselring Honor, the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Award, the Eugene O'Neill Memorial Scholarship, and the ASCAP Cole Porter Award. He holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Yale Drama School and is a member of New Dramatists, The Dramatists Guild, and The Lark Play Development Center. He is a professor of Playwriting at Brown University.

CHAY YEW (Artistic Director) joined Victory Gardens in July 2011. He recently directed Mojada, Oedipus el Rey and Universes' Ameriville at Victory Gardens. His other Chicago credits include Dartmoor Prison and Black N Blue Boys/Broken Men at the Goodman and Po Boy Tango at Northlight Theatre. In New York he directed at The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, National Asian American Theatre Company, and Ma-Yi Theatre Company. Regionally, he has directed at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The Kennedy Center; Mark Taper Forum, American Conservatory Theater, Huntington Theatre Company, Long Wharf Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Empty Space Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Cornerstone Theatre Company, Singapore Repertory Theatre, Boston Court, and East West Players amongst others. His opera credits include world premieres of Osvaldo Golijov's and David Henry Hwang's Ainadamar (co-production with the Tanglewood Music Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic); and Rob Zuidam's Rage d'Amours (Tanglewood Music Center). Chay is a recipient of the Obie Award and DramaLogue Award for Direction. As a playwright, his plays include Porcelain, A Language of Their Own, Red, A Beautiful Country, Wonderland, Question 27 Question 28, A Distant Shore, 17, and Visible Cities. His other work includes adaptations: A Winter People (based on Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard) and Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, and a musical Long Season. His performance works include Vivien and Her Shadows and Home: Places between Asia and America. His plays have been produced at the Public Theater, Mark Taper Forum, Manhattan Theatre Club, Long Wharf Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Intiman Theatre, Wilma Theatre, Dallas Theatre Center, and Portland Center Stage, amongst many others. Overseas, his plays have been produced by Royal Court Theatre (London), Fattore K and Napoli Teatro Festival (Naples, Italy), La Mama (Melbourne, Australia), Four Arts (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Singapore Repertory Theatre, Toy Factory, Checkpoint Theatre and TheatreWorks (Singapore). He is also the recipient of the London Fringe Award for Best Playwright and Best Play, George and Elisabeth Marton Playwriting Award, GLAAD Media Award, Made in America Award, AEA/SAG/AFTRA Diversity Honor, and Robert Chesley Award. His plays Porcelain and A Language of Their Own and The Hyphenated American Plays are published by Grove Press. He recently edited Version 3.0: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Plays for TCG Publications. He was the Founding Director of the Taper's Asian Theatre Workshop and producer of Taper, Too. Chay is also an alumnus of New Dramatists and serves on the Executive Board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

CHERYL LYNN BRUCE (Mary) is excited to be back at Victory Gardens Theater for The Gospel of Lovingkindness. Her previous work at VGT includes The Snow Queen, The Voice of Good Hope, and Eurydice. Cheryl's most recent work as Shelah in the world premiere of Tarell McCraney's Head of Passes at Steppenwolf earned a Joseph Jefferson Award nomination. During the 2011/12 season she premiered as Mai Tamba in Danai Gurira's The Convert at the McCarter Theatre. Her work earned a Jeff nomination for the production's Goodman Theatre run, a Los Angeles Ovation Award nomination and NAACP Theatre Award win during its Kirk Douglas Theatre run. Cheryl made her professional debut in the Goodman production of Death and the King's Horseman, written and directed by its Nobel Laureate author Wole Soyinka. Other Goodman productions include The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove, Each One As She May; Cry, the Beloved Country; Oo-Bla-Dee; Black Star Line, All's Well That Ends Well, A Christmas Carol, and Seneca's Trojan Women. Other Chicago credits include: The Great Fire and Race (Lookingglass Theatre); Everyman, Intimate Apparel, Nomathemba (Steppenwolf Theatre); and Steppenwolf Theatre's world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath (Broadway's Cort Theater, National Theatre-UK, La Jolla Playhouse); and Flyin' West (Court Theatre). For her work in Northlight Theatre's production of From the Mississippi Delta which toured to Arena Stage, Hartford Stage and Circle-in-the-Square Theater she won a coveted Helen Hayes Award, Joseph Jefferson Award, and a Connecticut Critics Circle Award. Regionally, Cheryl has appeared in Harriet Jacobs and Joe Turner's Come and Gone (Kansas City Repertory Theatre); Gem of the Ocean (The Ensemble Theatre); and The Story (Milwaukee Repertory Theater). Film and television credits include Prison Break; There Are No Children Here; Separate But Equal;To Sir, with Love II; Stranger Than Fiction; Daughters of the Dust and The Fugitive. Director, writer, and educator, Cheryl was named inaugural fellow of the Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago (2006). A Jane Addams Hull House Association's Woman of Valor Awardee (2010), and an Institute of Women Today Honoree (2012), Ms. Bruce also received a 3Arts Award in Theatre with unrestricted grant (2011). She is a proud company member of Teatro Vista and continues work on a Yale Research residency.

TOSIN MOROHUNFOLA (Noel/Emmanuel/Others) makes his Victory Gardens debut with The Gospel of Lovingkindness. While at Kansas University he founded the Multicultural Theatre Initiative, served as its artistic director for 2 years and produced 4 of his own original plays. The Multicultural Theatre Initiative included members of all backgrounds to participate and find a voice in theater. Since graduating he has appeared in Pullman Porter Blues at the Goodman Theatre; Off Broadway in Lucky Duck at the New Victory Theatre; Scarecrow in The Wiz, Donkey in Shrek, Bud Not Buddy, Suessical, The Wrestling Season, The Outsiders, and Maul of the Dead, as Resident Artist and he also directed Greek Mythology; Zeus on the Loose and The Presidents! at the Coterie Theatre; The Drowsy Chaperone, Is He Dead? and world premieres of Harry the Great and The Presidents! at Creede Repertory Theatre; Black Top Sky, Ruined, Speech & Debate at Union Theatre; The Living Room's This is How it Goes and Romeo in the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival's Romeo & Juliet tour. Film credits include Destination Planet Negro and the If The Night Comes series. Short Film credits are Mouth Breather, Rook, As a Puzzle and Alpha Bravo Charlie. TV credits include NBC's Chicago Fire. Tosin is also a member of Those People Comedy and Boomtown! Improv.

ERNEST PERRY JR. (Joe/Coach/Others) is thrilled to be back at Victory Gardens Theater for The Gospel of Lovingkindness. His previous Victory Gardens Theater credits include Ceremonies In Dark Old Men, Daddy's Seashore Blues, Pecong and Split Second. Other Chicago Theater credits include Death and the King's Horsemen, An Enemy of the People, PlayMas, The Road, Edmond, A Raisin in the Sun, Galileo, A Christmas Carol, Black Star Line, Puddin 'n' Pete (Jeff Award nomination), The Ties That Bind, Let Me Live, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, Miss Evers' Boys, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Oo-Bla-Dee, Drowning Crow, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Cry, The Beloved Country, The Iceman Cometh, The Merchant of Venice, Heartbreak House, Magnolia and Gas For Less at the Goodman Theatre. All's Well That Ends Well, Playboy of the West Indies, Mary Stuart and Pantomime at Court Theatre; Henry V, Measure for Measure, As You Like It and Cymbeline at Chicago Shakespeare Theater; Meetings and Rhino's Policeman at Northlight Theatre; The Petrified Forest, The Merchant of Venice and King Lear at Body Politic; Suspenders! (Jeff Award nomination) at Chicago Theatre Company; Driving Miss Daisy at Briar Street Theatre; and 5 Rooms of Furniture (Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Actor) at Organic Theater Company. National credits include Death and the King's Horsemen at Kennedy Center Theater; The Tempest at American Shakespeare Center; Jitney, Driving Miss Daisy and Gem of the Ocean at Indiana Repertory Theatre; Fences (Barrymore Award nomination) at Arden Theatre Company; King Hedley II at Alliance Theatre; Of Mice and Men at Virginia Stage Company; The Tempest and Fences at Actors Theatre of Louisville; Gem of the Ocean; Trouble in the Mind at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre; Birdie Blue at City Theatre; Emancipation of the Valet de Chambre at The Cleveland Play House; Dutchman at Hartford Stage; Oo-Bla-Dee at La Jolla Playhouse; International credits include The Iceman Cometh at the Abbey Theatre (Dublin); My Children, My Africa at Vienna's English Theatre; and The Merchant of Venice at Royal Shakespeare Company (London), Thalia Theatre (Germany) and MC93 Bobigny (Paris). Television credits include ER, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Lady Blue, The Howard Beach Story, Early Edition, Unnatural Causes, The Watcher, The Untouchables and Boss. Film credits include Quebec, Barbershop 2, Roll Bounce, Liar, Liar, Rage in Harlem, The Color of Money, Running Scared, and The Fifteen Minute Hamlet.

JACQUELINE WILLIAMS (Martha/Isis/Others) returns to Victory Gardens Theater for The Gospel of Lovingkindness. Her previous Victory Gardens performances include Waiting To Be Invited, Colored Museum and North Star. Other Chicago credits include Head Of Passes, Mrs. Belotti in Hot L Baltimore, Aunt Elegua/Shun (older) in the Brother/Sister Plays, No Place Like Home and Othello at Steppenwolf Theatre; Dandelion Wine at Chicago Children's Theatre; She was in opera director Calixto Bieto's U.S. debut of Tennessee William's Camino Real at the Goodman Theatre as well as Pullman Porter Blues (some performances), The Trinity River Plays (also at Dallas Theater Center), Oo-Bla-Dee, The Story, Blues For An Alabama Sky, Amen Corner, Each One As She May, Dreams Of Sarah Breedlove, Crowns, Richard II, Skin Of Our Teeth and many more. Caroline, Or Change, Fences, Electra, First Breeze Of Summer at Court Theatre; Gee's Bend, The Miser, Po' Boy Tango and Born In The Rsa at Northlight Theatre; Yellowman and Fabulation at Next Theater; Going To St. Ives at Fleetwood Theater. Several works at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and others. Extensive Regionalat LaJolla, Huntington Playhouse, ACT Seattle, Berkeley Rep, Portland Stage Co., Arena Stage, and others. Tours include: Crowns and Born In Rsa with Market Theatre of Johannesburg. Broadway: Young Man From Atlanta. Off-Broadway: From The Mississippi Delta, Mill Fire and Talented Tenth. She has recently been seen as recurring Officer Beccerra on Chicago Fire and Chicago PD. TV/Film include: cast of Turks; Chicago Code; Prison Break; ER; The Break Up; The Lake House; Hardball; White Boyz. Jacqueline was a national spokeswoman for SC Johnson for several years. Awards/Nominations: Jeff, Helen Hayes, BTAA, Lunt-Fontanne (Shakespeare) Fellow, 3Arts, American Arts Council, Drama Desk, Sarah Siddons, Excellence in the Arts, After Dark, others. Jacqueline holds a BFA from Goodman/Theatre School, and is also a private acting coach and educator.

Previews of The Gospel of Lovingkindness are February 28 - March 6, 2014: Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Previews are $20-$40. The Press opening is Friday, March 7, 2014 at 8pm. Regular performances run March 8 - March 30, 2014: Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 4 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. There will not be public performances on March 11 or 18. The March 19 performance will be held at 2:00pm. Regular performances are $20-$52.

Performances are at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens Box Office, 773.871.3000, email, or visit Ask the Box Office about student tickets ($15), senior, Access, $20 under 30, and rush discounts. For group discounts, call 773.328.2136.

A full and updated schedule of special events, post show discussions and presentations centered around performances of The Gospel of Lovingkindness is available at The following events are currently scheduled in conjunction with The Gospel of Lovingkindness:


Wed March 5, 2014 | 6:30pm cocktail hour | SPECIAL AFTERWORDS

Join our friends from The Center on Halsted for preshow cocktails and a special Afterwords discussion addressing Chicago violence in conversation with the LGBT community.


Sat March 8, 2014 | 6:30pm cocktail hour | SPECIAL AFTERWORDS

Join Tofu Chitlin' Circuit founder, Sydney Chatman and guest, Chicago-based tap dancer Bril Barrett of M.A.D.D. (Making a Difference Dancing) Rhythms. Barrett will perform a tap routine in the pre-show hour, and Chatman will join him for a special Afterwords. The two will discuss gun violence and community-based solutions on Chicago's South Side.


Sun March 9, 2014 | 1:30pm | SPECIAL MUSICAL PERFORMANCE

Charting the history of American music from the Negro Spiritual forward, Soprano Brenda Marie Turner, takes us on a stirring cultural journey through music...all over Sunday brunch.


Thurs March 13, 2014 | 6:30pm cocktail hour | SPECIAL AFTERWORDS

Amor Montes de Oca of Arte Y Vida Chicago and artist Jeff Abbey Maldonado Sr. will explore Maldonado's work during a special preshow reception. The two will then host a special Afterwords discussion featuring an excerpt from the film,19 and a Day, about the tragic loss of Maldonado's son to gun violence in 2009.


Sun March 16, 2014 | 1:30pm

Join us for this second in a series of conversations exploring voices of color in theatre. Playwrights Nambi E. Kelley, Lydia Diamond and others explore the place of the Black female voice in contemporary drama; moderated by Soyini Madison of Northwestern University.


Fri March 21, 2014 | SPECIAL AFTERWORDS

Join Natalie Moore (urban affairs reporter for Chicago Public Media) and her guest, Chicago-based artist/architect Amanda Wiliams, for an exploration of the relationship between urban planning and crime in this special Afterwords discussion.


Mon March 24, 2014 | 7:00pm | AFTERWORDS

A special screening of the documentary produced and directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Spanning 13 years, American Promise, follows Joe Brewster and Miche?le Stephenson, middle-class African- American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., as the pair turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys' divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation at Manhattan's Dalton School, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America's struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity. An Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.


After every performance of The Gospel of Lovingkindness (unless otherwise noted). Join us for one of our intimate post show conversations. Lead by members from all around the Victory Gardens community--subscribers, Artistic staff, Teen Arts Council members, and community partners--after the show we sit together, reflect on what we've seen and share our response.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Managing Director Chris Mannelli, 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. With Victory Gardens' first new Artistic Director in 34 years, the company remains committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, continuing the vision set forth by Dennis Zacek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.

Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theatre 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 Zacek-McVay Theater, a state-of-the-art 299-seat mainstage and the 109-seat studio theater on the second floor, named the Richard Christiansen Theater.

In 2012, Victory Gardens Victory Gardens appointed new Ensemble Playwrights Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Samuel D. Hunter and Tanya Saracho, for seven-year residencies. The Playwrights Ensemble Alumni includes Claudia Allen, Lonnie Carter, Steve Carter, Gloria Bond Clunie, Dean Corrin, Nilo Cruz, Joel Drake Johnson, John Logan, Nicholas Patricca, Douglas Post, James Sherman, Charles Smith, Jeffrey Sweet and Kristine Thatcher.

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