Cast Announced for NATIVE GARDENS at Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens Theater closes its 42nd season with the Chicago Premiere of Native Gardens, written by Karen Zacarías and directed by Marti Lyons. Native Gardens runs June 2 - July 2, 2017, with the press performance on Friday, June 9, 2017, at 7:30pm at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N Lincoln Avenue.

Pablo, a high-poweRed Lawyer, and his pregnant wife Tania, a doctoral candidate, think they have hit the jackpot with their new home. It seems to have everything they dreamed of: a nice neighborhood, plenty of bedrooms for their growing family, outdoor space, and friendly neighbors. When Pablo and Tania decide to upgrade the eyesore chain link fence in their backyard, neighbors Virginia and Frank couldn't be happier. Happy until they think their new neighbors are taking more than they deserve. A disagreement over a property line quickly spirals into a war of taste, class, and entitlement in Native Gardens, a hilarious new comedy by Karen Zacarías and directed by Marti Lyons.

The cast of Native Gardens includes Patrick Clear (Frank Butley), Paloma Nozicka (Tania Del Valle), Gabriel Ruiz (Pablo Del Valle) and Janet Ulrich Brooks (Virginia Butley).

The creative team includes William Boles (scenic design), Samantha Jones (costume design), Keith Parham (lighting design) and Mikhail Fiksel (sound design). Isaac Gomez is the dramaturg and Tina Jach is the production stage manager.

"Much has happened in the last year that has challenged our ideas of what it means to be an American," comments Artistic Director Chay Yew. "Playwright Karen Zacarias' hilarious new play asks us to further consider: What does it mean to be a good neighbor? In a city proud of its many unique and great neighborhoods, I couldn't be more ecstatic to share this timely comedy that is close to our hearts."

Previews for Native Gardens are June 2 - 8, 2017. Previews are $15-$40. The Press opening is Friday, June 9, 2017, at 7:30pm. Regular performances run June 10 - July 2, 2017: Tuesday - Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 3pm and 7:30pm; Sunday at 3:00pm. Regular performances are $15-$60.

Victory Gardens has partnered with mobile theater ticketing app TodayTix to offer free tickets for the first preview of Native Gardens. Free Tickets will be available via TodayTix mobile lottery, launching one week before the first preview on Friday, May 26, 2017. Winners will be notified by email and push notification between 12:00pm and 3:00pm on the day of the first preview, Friday, June 2, 2017.

Performances are at the Victory Gardens 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, and Access. For group discounts, call 872.817.9087.

Public Programs:

Public Programs is an event series designed to enhance your experience by exploring themes and issues within Victory Gardens Theater's productions. Connecting our theater to the world beyond the stage and rehearsal room, Public Programs bridge ideas, provoke dialogue, and deepen the relationship between our audiences and our productions.

A full and updated schedule of special events, post-show discussions, and presentations centered on performances of Native Gardens is available at . All events are free unless otherwise noted. For more information, call 773.871.3000 or visit the Victory Gardens website.


After every performance of Native Gardens (unless otherwise noted)

Join us for one of our intimate post-show conversations. Led by members from the Victory Gardens community-artistic affiliates, Artistic staff, Teen Arts Council members, The Council of Community Leaders, and community partners- reflect on what you've seen and share your response.


Post-show Conversation

Following the evening performance of Native Gardens

Between developing the idea to opening night, there is a lot that goes into the making of a brand new play. Join playwright Karen Zacarías and Director of New Play Development Isaac Gomez as we talk inspiration, determination, and process after this evening's performance of Native Gardens.



Latinx Performance Celebration

June 2 - 4, 2017

Join us for an epic weekend of performance, conversation, and celebration as we welcome local and national Latinx artists as they share their work and tell their stories. More information and RSVPs available at


Pre-show Exhibition

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 6:30pm.

In a city like Chicago, we don't all have lush backyard gardens to attract bees and grow produce. From community gardens to fully fledged urban farms, the budding field of Urban Agriculture uses clever solutions to solve the limited agricultural space in cities, not only to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables, but also to build healthier communities. Join us for a pre-show beginners' guide to urban gardening, and find the green thumb you never knew you had.


Pre-show Reception | Post-show Interactive Talkback

Thursday, June 8, 2017

What kind of neighbor do you want to be? Join us for a pre-show celebration of community and neighbors with food, drinks, and an interactive lobby display. After the performance of Native Gardens, stick around, grab a discounted drink from the bar with Victory Gardens' Council of Community Leaders, and get to know your neighbors during an immersive post-show workshop lead by local teaching artists.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Post-show Conversation

Following the evening performance of Native Gardens

Chicago is a city historically built on neighborhoods that were intended to segregate. Since the Great Migration, race and economics have been one of the greatest factors that keeps our neighborhoods' resources inequitable. What would need to happen to begin the process of desegregation? Is it possible to desegregate? Join us for this riveting post-show conversation as we are joined by urban planners, developers, activists and more as we unearth the truths that have kept us apart, and discovering dreams to unite us once more.


Post-Show Performances

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Following the evening performance of Native Gardens

Good fences make good neighbors, so we're told. What fences do we put up in our daily lives? In our current political climate, how do we build bridges at our borders instead of walls? Join us after this evening's performance of Native Gardens for riveting post-show spoken word & poetry.


Saturday, June 17th, 2017

12:00pm - 7:30pm

Latinx culture is everywhere you look in Chicago: from incredible restaurants and extraordinary museums to cultural events on stage and screen. For one day only, come get a taste of Latinx Chicago at our Latinx Food Fest! From alcapurrias, to tacos, to tortas, y mas, join us throughout the day for a taste of Latinx food vendors from all over the city.


Post-show Performance

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Following the evening performance of Native Gardens

Maids, gardeners, drug dealers, and other one-note stereotypes. Latinx characters are rarely in command of their own story, and they are rarely depicted as funny, intelligent, and successful: they usually have to pick just one. Following tonight's performance of Native Gardens, join us for this post-show performance featuring local Latinx comedians and sketch artists as they take the mic and laugh it up.


Karen Zacarías (Playwright) was recently hailed by American Theater Magazine as one of the most produced playwrights in the USA. Other plays in Chicago in 2017 include Destiny of Desire at The Goodman Theater, Into the Beautiful North (Until June 17) at 16th Street Theater and Just Like Us by Teatro Vista. Other plays include Mariela in the Desert (World Premiere, The Goodman), The Sins of Sor Juana (productions The Goodman Theater and Teatro Vista), The Book Club Play (16th Street Theater), Legacy of Light (National Steinberg citation winner), the adaptations of Just Like Us (Denver Center), and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent (Round House). She collaborated on the libretto for the ballets Sleepy Hollow and Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises for the Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and has written 10 TYA musicals with composer Deborah Wicks La Puma. Her plays have been produced at The Kennedy Center, The Goodman Theater, South Coast Rep, The Guthrie, Cincinnati Playhouse, RoundHouse Theater, GALA Hispanic Theater, Denver Theater Center, Dallas Theater Center and many more. Karen is a core founder of the Latino Theatre Commons, a national network that strives to update the American narrative to include the stories of Latinos. She is the founder of Young Playwrights' Theater, an award-winning theater company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, D.C. Karen lives in D.C. with her husband and three children.

Marti Lyons (Director) is an ensemble member at The Gift Theatre Company and received the 2015 Maggio directing fellowship from Goodman Theatre. Chicago credits include The Mystery of Love and Sex (Writers Theatre), Title and Deed (Lookingglass Theatre Company), The City of Conversation (Northlight Theatre), Short Shakespeare! Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Wit (The Hypocrites), Mine, Bethany and Body and Blood (The Gift Theatre Company), Hot Georgia Sunday, Seminar (Haven Theatre), Give it All Back, Mai Dang Lao, 9 Circles, Maria/Stuart, co-director for The Golden Dragon (Sideshow Theatre Company), Prowess, The Peacock, The Last Duck (Jackalope Theatre Company) and The Play About my Dad (Raven Theatre). Regional credits include Wondrous Strange (Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville).

Patrick Clear (Frank Butley) returns to Victory Gardens where he previously appeared in Chekhov in Yalta, Woman in Mind, and Music from a Locked Room. Broadway credits include Noises Off and Hollywood Arms. Other Chicago credits include Carlyle, Race, Clean House, Meet Vera Stark, Teddy Ferrara, The Goat, and Dartmoor Prison (Goodman), By the Water (Northlight), Port Authority (Writers Theatre), Henry V, As You Like It, Madness of George III (Chicago Shakespeare), Seascape (Remy Bumppo). Regional credits include An Opening in Time (Hartford Stage), 12 Angry Men (Maltz Jupiter Theatre), 1776 (Asolo Rep), Heavens Were Hung in Black (Indiana Rep), Emma (Cleveland Playhouse), and Dancing at Lughnasa (Arena Stage). Film and TV credits include The Dark Knight, "Empire," and "Chicago PD."

Paloma Nozicka (Tania Del Valle) is making her Victory Gardens debut. Chicago credits include The Snare, Exit Strategy, Long Way Go Down (Jackalope Theatre); Give It All Back, Antigonick (Sideshow Theatre); Bobbie Clearly (Steep Theatre); Our Lady of 121st Street (Eclipse Theatre); Teddy Ferrara (Goodman Theatre); The Play About My Dad (Raven Theatre). Regional credits include Boeing Boeing (Theatre Squared). Film & TV credits include The Secret Santa, "Chicago Med," "Chicago PD," "Empire," and "Underemployed."

Gabriel Ruiz (Pablo Del Valle) is a graduate of the Theatre School at DePaul University and an ensemble member of Teatro Vista. His Chicago credits include The Wolf at the End of The Block, White Tie Ball (Teatro Vista); Singin' in the Rain, City of Angels (The Marriott Theater); Man in the Ring, Agamemnon (Court Theater); Arcadia, Company (Writers Theatre); The Upstairs Concierge (The Goodman Theater); Creditors (Remy Bumppo Theater); How Long Will I Cry?, Motherfucker with the Hat, The Way West (Steppenwolf Theater); Sita Ram (Chicago Children's Choir); Working: The Musical (The Broadway Playhouse); Richard III, SS! A Midsummer Night's Dream (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Arabian Nights (Lookingglass Theater). Regional credits Native Gardens (The Cincinnati Playhouse); Harvey (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them (Forward Theater Company). Off-Broadway credits include Blood and Gifts (The Lincoln Center). Film and TV credits include "Boss," "Chicago Fire," "Chicago Justice" and "APB." He will be seen next in The Rembrandt at Steppenwolf.

Janet Ulrich Brooks (Virginia Butley) is a company member of TimeLine Theatre, where she has appeared in A Walk in the Woods, All My Sons, When She Danced, Not Enough Air, Weekend, Tesla's Letters, Paradise Lost, Lillian and A Man For All Seasons. Chicago credits include: The Seagull and A True History of the Johnstown Flood (Goodman); The Original Grease (American Theatre Company); Pony (About Face); Jacob & Jack (Victory Gardens); Golda's Balcony (Pegasus Players, Jeff Award Non-Equity wing - Outstanding Solo Performance); and work with Strawdog Theatre Company, Steppenwolf for Young Adults, Writers', Collaboraction, and others. Film and TV credits include Conviction, Polish Bar, I Heart Shakey, One Small Hitch and Chicago Code. Janet received the first Ed See Outstanding Theatre Alumnus Award from the University of Central Missouri, and earned her MFA in acting from Western Illinois University.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Managing 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 Za?ek, 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 Za?ek-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.

For more information about Victory Gardens, visit Follow us on Facebook at, Twitter @VictoryGardens and Instagram at

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