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Photo Flash: Victory Gardens Theater presents BREACH

Victory Gardens Theater continues its 43rd season with BREACH: a manifesto on race in america through the eyes of a black girl recovering from self-hate, written by Antoinette Nwandu and directed by Lisa Portes. BREACH runs February 9 - March 11, 2018, with the press performance on Friday, February 16, 2018 at 7:30pm at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue.

In Antoinette Nwandu's "love letter to black women," Margaret uproots her life, including her dead-end job and fizzling relationship, after finding out that she is unexpectedly expecting. She finds support and humor from her sassy and sharp Aunt Sylvia and her new friendship with Carolina, a pregnant cleaning lady at her office. BREACH is a smart comedy about friendship, motherhood, and family, and tackles the mother of all challenges: learning to love yourself.

BREACH features Caren Blackmore (Margaret), Linda Bright Clay (Aunt Sylvia), Karen Rodriguez (Carolina), Al'Jaleel McGhee (Rasheed) and Keith D. Gallagher (Nate).

The creative team includes Linda Buchanan (scenic design), Samantha C. Jones (costume design), Heather Gilbert (lighting design), Thomas Dixon (sound design), Alec Long (properties). The dramaturg is Skyler Gray and the stage manager is Tina M. Jach.

"Antoinette Nwandu is one of the most exciting and imaginative voices in our field." said Artistic Director Chay Yew. "When I read BREACH, I knew our Chicago audiences needed to experience this gifted author who deftly fuses immediate contemporary social issues into a powerful, deeply personal play."

About the Artists

Antoinette Nwandu (Playwright) is a New York-based playwright. In June 2017, Steppenwolf presented the World Premiere of her Jeff Award-winning play Pass Over, a mashup of Waiting for Godot and the biblical Exodus story in a modern urban setting. Antoinette is currently under commission from Echo Theater Company, Colt Coeur, and Audible; her plays have been supported by MacDowell, the Sundance Theater Lab, IGNITION Fest, the Cherry Lane Mentor Project (mentor: Katori Hall), the Kennedy Center, Page73, Ars Nova, PlayPenn, Space on Ryder Farm, Southern Rep, The Flea, Naked Angels, Fire This Time, and The Movement Theater Company. Honors include spots on the 2016 and 2017 Kilroys lists, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, the Negro Ensemble Company's Douglas Turner Ward Prize, and a Literary Fellowship at the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference. Antoinette is an alum of the Ars Nova Play Group, the Naked Angels Issues PlayLab, and the Dramatists Guild Fellowship. Education: Harvard, The University of Edinburgh, Tisch School of the Arts.

Lisa Portes (Director) returns to Victory Gardens where she directed Slingshot by Kia Korthron, A Little Bit Not Normal by Arlene Malinowski, and Undone by Andrea Thome for IGNITION. Other Chicago credits include: Steppenwolf: This is Modern Art by Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval, Goodman: Ghostwritten by Naomi Iizuka; Northlight: Permanent Collection by Thomas Gibbons; Timeline: Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West by Naomi Iizuka; Next Theatre: In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks and Far Away by Caryl Churchill. Recent regional credits: Disgraced (Cincinnati Playhouse), Glass Menagerie (CalShakes). NYC credits: Wilder (Playwrights Horizons). Upcoming: Native Gardens (Denver Center). Awards: 2016 SDC Zelda Fichandler Directors Award. Lisa heads the MFA Directing program at The Theatre School at DePaul University.

Caren Blackmore (Margaret) makes her Victory Gardens debut. Chicago Credits; Beyond Caring (Lookingglass Theatre), Electra and Jitney! (Court Theatre), The MLK Project: The Fight For Civil Rights (Writers Theatre), SPILL (TimeLine Theatre) and The Joe Tex Story (Black Ensemble Theater). Also has worked with; Pegasus Players, Stockyards Theatre Project, Theatre Wit, Loop Players, Congo Square Theatre Company, ETA Creative Arts and MPAACT. Attended Freedom Theatre of Philadelphia and is a graduate of Oberlin College and the Eugene O'Neill National Theatre Institute.

Linda Bright Clay (Aunt Sylvia) is a native Chicagoan, member of Actors' Equity and SAG-AFTRA, and has been a professional actor for over 30 years. Her theatre credits include A Wonder in My Soul, The House That Will Not Stand (Victory Gardens); the BTAA and Jeff Award winning production of The Project(S) at the American Theatre Co, also reprising her roles this year in The Project(S) with American Theatre Co.'s American Mosaic education program, and touring with the production; For My brothers...(Writers Theatre Commissioned work); Having Our Say and Permanent Collection at Madison Rep; Home (BTAA Best Actress Award), Having Our Say, Top Hat all at Chicago Theatre Co; Joe Turner's Come And Gone at the Goodman, Dame Lorraine at Victory Gardens; The Gold Shop, Crossing Against the Red Light at Chicago Cultural Center's "People's Choice Award," Ain't Supposed To Die A Natural Death, Checkmates at eta. Linda's film and TV work include Nothing Like Thanksgiving, Halfway garnering critical acclaim in festivals, and Seven Psychopaths. Her short films include, 3:04 am, Flickering Blue, Just Married, and The Night Before The Morning After. Linda also recently appeared in the television series, "Empire."

Karen Rodriguez (Carolina) makes her Victory Gardens debut. Chicago credits include: The Rembrandt (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), The Way She Spoke (Greenhouse Theater Center), Hookman (Steep Theatre), good friday (Oracle), Blue Skies Process (Goodman Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Teatro Vista). Film & TV: "Chicago Justice."

Al'Jaleel McGhee (Rasheed) makes his Victory Gardens debut. Recent theatre credits include: Paradise Blue (Timeline), Blues for an Alabama Sky (Court) which recently won a Jeff Award for Best Production. Film/Television credits: "Chicago P.D.," "APB," "The Chi," Proud Mary (2018), Sex Weather (2018). He is a Marine Corps veteran, an alumnus the Gately/Poole Drama Conservatory and currently a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago (Performance). Al'Jaleel is represented by Gray Talent Group.???????????????

Keith D. Gallagher (Nate) makes his Victory Gardens debut. Chicago credits include: Beyond Caring (Lookingglass Theatre Company); Mary Page Marlowe, Marie Antoinette (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); The Gospel of Franklin, Man in Love (Steppenwolf First Look); Awake and Sing, The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Northlight Theatre Company); Shining City (Goodman Theatre); Tracks (TUTA Chicago); Arcadia (Court Theatre); The Real Thing (Remy Bumppo Theatre Company). Regional: Macbeth (Denver Center for the Performing Arts), A Raisin in the Sun (Geva Theatre Center), The Gospel According to James (Indiana Repertory Theatre), The Lieutenant of Inishmore (The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), Shining City (Huntington Theatre Company). T.V.: "Empire," "Chicago Fire," "Chicago P.D.," "Detroit 187."

Full Performance Schedule

Previews for BREACH are February 9 - 15, 2018. Previews are $15-$45. The Press opening is Friday, February 16 at 7:30pm. Regular performances run February 17 - March 11, 2018: Tuesday - Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 3pm and 7:30pm; Sunday at 3pm. Regular performances are $15-$56.

Victory Gardens has partnered with mobile theater ticketing app TodayTix to offer free tickets for the first

preview of BREACH. Free Tickets will be available via TodayTix mobile lottery, launching one week before the first preview on Friday, February 2, 2018. Winners will be notified by email and push notification between 12:00pm and 3:00pm on the day of the first preview, Friday, February 9, 2018. To enter, download the TodayTix app on your iOS or Android device.

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' 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. Public Programs are composed of three distinct tracks:

SALON: A post-show performance series bringing local artists, students, and/or organizations into the conversation of the play through their own work.

PANEL: A post-show conversation with community leaders, playwrights, activists, artists, and educators. These panels use the play's themes to ignite a conversation about our world and the people in it.

CELEBRATION: Pre- and post-show events celebrating the themes of the play through art, food, and community.


After every performance of BREACH (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, and community partners- reflect on what you've seen and share your response.


Wednesday, January 24 at 7:00pm

How many roles do you play throughout the day? Who are you with your family and friends? With your co-workers? Online? Jeff Award-winning playwright Antoinette Nwandu's world-premiere play BREACH explores these very questions. Join us for an exclusive glimpse into the rehearsal process as the cast shares a scene from the production during one of their very first rehearsals. Then, participate in an interactive workshop on performing stories from your own life, facilitated by performance scholar and artist Dr. Raquel Monroe. Afterwards, celebrate with appetizers from Olive Mediterranean Grill!


Post-Show Conversation

Saturday, February 10 at 9:00pm

Made possible by the support of The David Rockefeller Fund

The United States has less than 5% of the world's population yet we are home to almost 25% of the world's prisoners. It's no secret that the criminal justice system in this country needs work, but what is being done to change it? What are the re-entry resources available to people once they complete their sentences? Join us after the evening performance of BREACH for a conversation with notable formerly incarcerated activists in Chicago about how we can make our justice system truly just.


Post-Show Conversation

Tuesday, February 13 at 9:00pm

From IGNITION to our mainstage, Victory Gardens has been working with Antoinette on the development of this play for two years. How does a new play go from a public reading to world premiere? Join playwright Antoinette Nwandu and dramaturg Skyler Gray as they discuss her work and the evolution of BREACH from Victory Gardens' 2016 IGNITION Festival lineup to its first full production as part of Victory Gardens' 2017-2018 Season.


Post-Show Conversation

Thursday, February 15 at 9:00pm

Made possible by the support of The David Rockefeller Fund

Reproductive health care is a basic human right for women. In today's political climate, such care is not always a guarantee. What is being done in Chicago and around the country to ensure all women have access to the services they need? Join us after the evening performance of BREACH for a discussion with representatives from Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health centers in the city.


Pre-Show Celebration

Saturday, February 17 at 6:30pm

Celebrate the tenacity, beauty and creativity of Black women in Antoinette Nwandu's BREACH, in Chicago, and around the world! For this very special public program, join us for pre-show #blackgirlmagic healing and spiritual self-love rituals. Additionally, experience free food, live art and performances in the lobby that highlight the power and potency of #blackgirlmagic.


Post-Show Performance

Wednesday, February 21 at 9:00pm

In BREACH, Margaret puts on a different persona depending on whether she's around Nate, Rasheed, or her Aunt Sylvia. When the identity you project changes so frequently, how do you know who's really you? Join us for a pre-show celebration in the lobby with free drinks and pizza. Then, stick around after the evening performance of BREACH for free post-show scenes exploring the different masks we all wear written, directed, and performed by college artists from DePaul University, Northwestern University, Loyola University, and Columbia College.


Pre-Show Festival featuring Black beauty & wellness products

Saturday, February 24 starting at 12:00pm

Sunday, February 25 starting at 12:00pm

Victory Gardens Theater believes that Black is beautiful and we know that you do too. Beauty is such an essential part of Black culture. Join us for an expo of local Black owned and operated beauty and wellness products as we celebrate Antoinette Nwandu's BREACH.


Post-Show Performance

Saturday, March 3 at 9:00pm

For many people of color, being adaptable is a necessary skill for everyday life. Certain circles require specific adjustments to behavior and language in order to better "fit in." How does this continual need to code-switch affect people who just want to be true to themselves? After the evening performance of BREACH, join us for a night of spoken word by poets of color as they discuss intersecting identities and the constant balancing act between living truthfully and fitting in.

Post-Show Conversation

Wednesday, March 7 at 9:00pm

Made possible by the support of The David Rockefeller Fund.

After having paid their debt to society, many men and women find themselves hampered by societal and legal barriers that make it difficult get out of the prison loop and not be stigmatized by their past. Join us and our panel of legal and legislative experts as we discuss why Rasheed's story in BREACH is the exception, not the norm, and what we can do to change that.

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

Photo by Michael Brosilow

high res photos

Photo Flash: Victory Gardens Theater presents BREACH
Caren Blackmore, Karen Rodriguez. Photo by Michael Brosilow

Photo Flash: Victory Gardens Theater presents BREACH
Caren Blackmore, Karen Rodriguez. Photo by Michael Brosilow (1)

Photo Flash: Victory Gardens Theater presents BREACH
Linda Bright Clay, Al'Jaleel McGhee. Photo by Michael Brosilow

Photo Flash: Victory Gardens Theater presents BREACH
Karen Rodriguez, Linda Bright Clay, Caren Blackmore. Photo by Michael Brosilow

Photo Flash: Victory Gardens Theater presents BREACH
Caren Blackmore, Keith D. Gallagher, Al'Jaleel McGhee. Photo by Michael Brosilow

Photo Flash: Victory Gardens Theater presents BREACH
Al'Jaleel McGhee, Caren Blackmore. Photo by Michael Brosilow

Photo Flash: Victory Gardens Theater presents BREACH
Keith D. Gallagher, Caren Blackmore. Photo by Michael Brosilow

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