Victory Gardens Celebrates CHAD DEITY, YEAR ZERO & RED

Victory Gardens Theater Artistic Director Dennis Zacek and Executive Director Jan Kallish proudly announce that Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, currently in previews at New York's Second Stage Theatre, opens on Thursday, May 20; the smash hit production is slated to run though June 20, 2010. Second Stage Theatre will simultaneously produce Michael Golamco's Year Zero, May 18-June 13, 2010. Both plays were developed through Victory Gardens new play initiative IGNITION, and received world premiere productions in Chicago as openers for Victory Gardens 2009-10 season. Victory Gardens also congratulates Founding Playwrights Ensemble member John Logan on the success of his new play Red, which was awarded Outstanding New Broadway Play by the Outer Critics Circle and received 7 Tony nominations, including a nomination for Best New Play.

More than 50 Victory Gardens board members, patrons and friends are traveling to New York to see and celebrate The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Second Stage, followed by a post-show party with the cast, playwright Kristoffer Diaz, director Eddie Torres and the entire creative team.

Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity and Michael Golamco's Year Zero were both born of Victory Gardens bold new play initiative, IGNITION, which develops and produces new works by emerging young playwrights of color. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity opened at Victory Gardens on October 5, 2009 to unanimous critical acclaim. Diaz's bold exploration of race and politics through the unlikely lens of professional wrestling was named "Best Play of 2009" by the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and Time Out Chicago, and was named a 2010 Pulitzer Prize Finalist. Golamco's Year Zero, a moving comedic drama about a young generation of Cambodian Americans paving a new future by remembering its past, opened concurrently in Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theatre to critical raves.

Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble member John Logan's Red premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in London in December, 2009 and was recently nominated for the Tony Award for Best New Play. Logan's premieres at Victory Gardens include Music From a Locked Room and Scorched Earth, as well as Never the Sinner and Hauptmann. Logan received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay for The Aviator and Gladiator. He won a Golden Globe for Sweeney Todd. Other screenwriting credits include The Last Samurai, Any Given Sunday, and RKO 281. Logan is currently writing a new stage adaptation of Moby Dick for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

About IGNITION
IGNITION, one of Victory Gardens most daring new play development projects, was conceived to support the theater's mission of new play development and diversity. In the spring of 2008, 120 writers of color under 40 years of age from around the United States submitted new scripts for the first phase of Ignition. The top six plays were then selected, workshopped and presented as staged readings in a successful weeklong festival later that same summer.

Victory Gardens kicked off its 2009-10 mainstage season with two overlapping productions of new plays developed through IGNITION, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, and Year Zero by Michael Golamco. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity and Year Zero were supported in part by The Chicago Community Trust and The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity was supported in part by the 2009 Edgerton Foundation New Plays Award. The inaugural IGNITION Festival was supported by The Ford Foundation.

The second annual IGNITION Festival received over 150 scripts and will announce this years participants in mid-June. IGNITION Festival 2010 is supported by lead corporate sponsor, Allstate Insurance Company, and William and Orli Staley. For more information call IGNITION Festival Producer Sandy Shinner or Literary Manager Aaron Carter at 773.549.5788.

About Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble
Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble was formed in 1996. It was a coming together of a diverse group of writers under the roof of one producing organization to develop work for the Victory Gardens stage, a partnership virtually unheard of in a resident theater in the U.S. Founding members include Claudia Allen, Dean Corrin, Lonnie Carter, Steve Carter, Gloria Bond Clunie, John Logan, Nicholas A. Patricca, Douglas Post, James Sherman, Charles Smith, and Jeffrey Sweet. Kristine Thatcher joined the ensemble later that year and in 2007, Nilo Cruz and Joel Drake Johnson rounded out the ensemble to 14 members.

Victory Gardens Campaign for Growth
The naming of the Richard Christiansen Theater is the centerpiece of Victory Gardens Campaign for Growth, a $1 Million campaign that will enable the theater to continue, and expand, its long time commitment to new work, diverse audiences, greater access, and education. Programmatic initiatives such as the hugely successful IGNITION Festival and Fresh Squeezed will continue to flourish on both stages through the funds raised from this campaign.

As part of the Campaign for Growth, a special Artists' Tribute Fund has being created specifically for artists to honor Christiansen's tireless support of Chicago theater. Theater artists who began their careers and those who still call Chicago home have contributed generous lead gifts to the fund and are pledging to match fellow artists' donations dollar for dollar. Supporters of the fund include William L. Petersen, John Logan, John Mahoney and David Mamet, among others. Lead support for the Richard Christiansen Theater is generously provided by Polk Bros. Foundation.

About Victory Gardens TheaterVictory Gardens Theater is home to the bold voices of world premiere theater. The company features the work of its own 14-member Playwrights Ensemble, as well as that of exciting playwrights who are changing theater in the U.S. and abroad. 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. The company's dedication to developing, supporting and producing new work makes Victory Gardens an American Center for New Plays.

In 2006, Victory Gardens successfully completed an $11.8 million renovation of Chicago's famed Biograph Theater, and moved two blocks north from its longtime venue at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, to its beautiful new home in one of Chicago's most celebrated historic landmarks. Renamed the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, the new venue is a state-of-the-art 299-seat mainstage which has greatly expanded the company's artistic flexibility, while enhancing Victory Gardens ability to welcome patrons old and new.

Last summer, Victory Gardens completed the second phase of renovation at the Biograph, building an intimate, new, 109-seat studio theater on the second floor. On March 1, 2010, at a special launch event for Victory Gardens new, $1 million "Campaign for Growth", Victory Gardens new studio was officially named the Richard Christiansen Theater, in honor of the Chicago Tribune chief critic emeritus and longtime champion of Chicago's live theater scene. Visit www.victorygardens.org/campaignforgrowth for more details.

Working with a $3.1 million annual budget in 2009-2010, Victory Gardens continues to expand its artistic and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Artistic Director Dennis Zacek, Executive Director Jan Kallish, Associate Artistic Director Sandy Shinner, and Board President Jeffrey Rappin.

Victory Gardens Theater is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council (IAC), a stage agency, Illinois Humanities Council, and is partially supported by a CityArts Program 4 Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Major funders also include the John T. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, Shubert Foundation, Wallace Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Allstate Insurance Company, Alphawood Foundation, Motorola Foundation, REAM Foundation, Edgerton Foundation, and Crown Family Philanthropies. Additional funding is provided by the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Kraft Foods, Prince Charitable Trusts, Sara Lee Foundation, Seigle Family Foundation, Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation, and by 3Arts, Harry S. Black and Allon Fuller Fund, Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, Elizabeth Cheney Foundation, Col. L.C. Christensen Foundation, John R. Halligan Fund, Illinois Tool Works (ITW), James S. Kemper Foundation, Albert Pick, Jr. Fund, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and Wrightwood Neighbors Association.

For complete information, visit www.victorygardens.org.

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