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HAND TO GOD Begins Extended Run at Victory Gardens Theater Tonight

Victory Gardens Theater recently announced the extension of its first show of its 42st season, Hand To God by Robert Askins, directed by Gary Griffin due to early ticket demand. Hand To God now runs tonight, September 16, through October 23, 2016, with the press performance on Friday, September 23, 2016, at 7:30 pm at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue.

The God-fearing children of Cypress, Texas spend their after-school hours practicing Christian Puppet Ministry at the local church. When one devout young boy discovers that his hand puppet has a life of its own, all hell breaks loose. Literally. In this hilarious and lightning-paced comedy, Tyrone, a stinging and witty satanic sock puppet soon shows the children, minister, and school bully who's really in charge. Declared "flat-out hilarious" by The New York Times; Hand to God by Robert Askins and directed by Gary Griffin makes its Chicago premiere after thrilling audiences on Broadway and receiving a Tony nomination for Best New Play last season.

Victory Gardens has partnered with mobile theater ticketing app TodayTix to offer free tickets for the first preview of Hand to God. Free Tickets will be available via TodayTix mobile lottery, launching one week before the first preview on Saturday, September 10th. Winners will be notified by email and push notification between 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on the day of the first preview, Friday, September 16th.

The cast of Hand to God includes Nina Ganet (Jessica), Curtis Edward Jackson (Timothy), Eric Slater (Pastor Greg), Janelle Snow (Margery) and Alex Weisman (Jason/Tyrone).

The creative team includes Joe Schermoly (Scenic Design), Janice Pytel (Costume Design), Christine Binder (Lighting Design), Chris Kriz (Sound Design), Michael Dold (Properties Design) Daniel Dempsey (Puppet Design) and Isaac Gomez (Dramaturgy). The Production Stage Manager is Tina Jach.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Robert Askins (Playwright) was born in Cypress, Texas. His Tony-nominated, Obie Award-winning play Hand to God recently finished its run on London's West End (Olivier nominated for Best New Comedy) after it opened on Broadway in April 2015, following two critically-acclaimed runs at Ensemble Studio Theatre and MCC Theater, where it was named a NY Times Critics' Pick and called "the most entertaining show of 2014." His newest play Permission made its world premiere off-Broadway in spring 2015 at MCC Theater. His play Fish Display was part of the 2012 Ojai Playwrights Conference and Permission was part of the 2014 conference. Rob has received two EST/Sloan grants, the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwrights Award, and an Arch and Bruce Davis Award for Playwriting. Rob is an I-73 and Youngblood alum and a graduate of Baylor University. He's currently at work on two feature film projects and an original comedy series for HBO.

Gary Griffin (Director) Victory Gardens Theater: Never the Sinner, Appropriate. London: Pacific Overtures (Donmar Warehouse, Olivier Award, Best Musical Production and Olivier Nominee, Best Director). Broadway: Honeymoon in Vegas, The Color Purple. Off-Broadway:Saved (Playwrights Horizons); The Apple Tree, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Pardon My English, The New Moon (Encores), Regional: Antony and Cleopatra, Camelot, West Side Story(Stratford Festival); work at McCarter, Alliance, Hartford Stage, Signature, Kansas City Rep., The Muny. Chicago:Road Show, Gypsy, Sunday in the Park With George, Follies,Amadeus, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); The Merry Widow, The Mikado,Oklahoma (Lyric Opera of Chicago); The Detective's Wife,Loot (Writers Theatre). Associate Artistic Director, Chicago Shakespeare Theater. 10 Joseph Jefferson Awards for Directing.

Nina Ganet (Jessica) Chicago: Mosque Alert (Silk Road Rising); Circle of Friends, The Holiday Celebration, The Revue (American Girl Theatre). Film: The Hypnotist, Chip V2, Cool Apocalypse, Henry Gamble's Birthday Party. School at Steppenwolf Graduate 2016.

Curtis Edward Jackson (Timothy) Chicago: A Splintered Soul (ARLA Productions); How the World Began (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble); Brilliant Adventures (Steep Theatre Company); Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) (Jackalope Theatre Company); Tribes, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Steppenwolf); Men Should Weep (Griffin Theatre Company); Ghost Bike (Buzz22 Chicago); Shakespeare's R&J (Idle Muse Theatre Company); Good Boys and True (Kokandy Productions). Regional: Other Desert Cities (Farmer's Alley Theatre), Richard III, Twelfth Night (Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre); two national tours of Letters Home (Griffin Theatre Company). Film: The Falls: Covenant of Grace, Teacher.

Eric Slater (Pastor Greg) Chicago: Kill Floor (American Theatre Company); Dairy of Anne Frank (Writers Theatre); Feathers & Teeth, Smokefall (GoodmanTheatre); Rasheeda Speaking (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble/Ensemble Member). Off & Off-Off Broadway: Juvenal Players (The Kitchen); The Dudley's: A Family Game! (Theatre for a New City); Our Greatest Year (Kraine & The Brick); Original Cast Gloryana (The Public Theater & The York Theatre Co.). Regional: Fornicated From The Beatles (American Repertory Theatre); Experiment America (ICA Boston); Hunchback (DIA Detroit); Permanent Collection (Madison Rep.); Our Greatest Year (Dobama Theatre). Film/ TV: Coming to You, Chicago Fire.

Janelle Snow (Margery) Victory Gardens Theater: No One As Nasty, Henry Flamethrowa, IGNITION Festival. Chicago: The Crowd You're In With (Goodman Theatre); Spare Change (Steppenwolf); Always Patsy Cline (Theatre at the Center); The Trip to Bountiful, Flung (American Theatre Company); The Cherry Orchard (Strawdog Theatre); Suddenly Last Summer, The Sweetest Swing In Baseball, Rumors, Big Time (Eclipse Theatre); Only The Sound (Chicago Dramatists); Five Women Wearing The Same Dress, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Auschwitz Lullaby, A Piece Of My Heart (Circle Theatre). Film/TV: Stage Four, Gardening at Night, The Widower, E/R, Early Edition, The Beast, Boss, Chicago Fire. Awards: Jeff, After Dark.

Alex Weisman (Jason/Tyrone) Victory Gardens Theater: Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, IGNITION Festival. Chicago: The History Boys (Jeff Award), The Normal Heart, My Name Is Asher Lev (TimeLine, Associate Artist); Tug Of War: Foreign Fire, Short Shakes: Midsummer!, Julius Caesar, The Madness of George III (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Mary, A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre); The Good Book (Court Theatre); October Sky, upcoming The Nutcracker (Marriott Lincolnshire); Peter Pan (Lookingglass Theatre); You Never Can Tell (Remy Bumppo); Ah! Wilderness (Jeff Nomination, Eclipse); The Rainmaker (Jeff Nomination), Rough Crossing (First Folio); Bent (TOTC) as well as Chicago Children's Theatre, House Theatre, Provision Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre. Film/TV: Black Box, Scrooge & Marley, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, Empire. Stakeholder with The BackRoom Shakespeare Project.

Previews for Hand to God are September 16-22, 2016. Previews are $15-$40. The Press opening is Friday, September 23 at 7:30pm. Regular performances run September 24 - October 23, 2016: Tuesday - Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 3pm and 7:30pm; Sunday at 3:00pm. There will be a matinee performance on Wednesday, October 5 at 2 p.m. Regular performances are $15-$60. Victory Gardens will also be offering a daily mobile lottery for up to a pair of $10 tickets via the TodayTix Mobile Lottery technology.

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 tickets@victorygardens.org, or visit www.victorygardens.org . Ask the Box Office about student tickets ($15), senior, and Access. For group discounts, call 872.817.9087.

Accessible Performances

ASL Interpreted performance: Friday, September 30 at 7:30pm

Word for Word (Open Captioning): Friday, September 30 at 7:30pm. Saturday, October 1 at 3:00pm, and Wednesday, October 5 at 2:00pm

Audio Description: Friday, September 30 at 7:30pm (Touch tour at 6:00pm), Sunday, October 9 at 3:00pm (Touch tour at 1:30pm)

Public Programs

Public Programs is an event series designed to enhance your experience by exploring themes and issues in Victory Gardens' plays. 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.

Afterwords
After every performance of Hand to God, (unless otherwise noted)
Join Victory Gardens for an intimate post­show conversation. Led by members from the Victory Gardens community-artistic affiliates, subscribers, Artistic staff, Teen Arts Council members, The Council of Community Leaders, and community partners- reflect on what you've seen and share your response.

Backstage at the Biograph: Puppet Talk
Thursday, September 8 at 6:30pm
Open Rehearsal Event
It takes a village to bring a play to life. But what about a puppet? Get a behind­the­scenes look at the creation of Tyrone at this electrifying open rehearsal event with Hand to God puppet director Daniel Dempsey and puppet designer Rachel Christianson and members of the cast. Then, stick around for complimentary drinks and snacks while making a sock puppet of your own.

Free First Preview Special Event: Puppets and Pinot
Friday, September 16 at 7:00pm
Pre­show Puppet Making Workshop
In Hand to God, puppets take on lives of their own. Come join us for savory drink specials and a pre­show puppet­ making workshop to make your own hand puppet come to life! All tickets for this performance will be distributed for free via the TodayTix Mobile Lottery.

A Puppet Cabaret
Monday, September 26 at 7:30pm
Free Off­Night Performance
Kermit. Howdy Doody. Bert and Ernie. You know these TV puppets well, but how well do you know Chicago's puppets? Join us for a curated puppet cabaret, with performers from all over the city of Chicago. These artists will knock your sock puppets off.

Outloud: The Bible Tells Us So
Thursday, September 29 at 6:30 pm
Pre­Show Celebration & Post­Show Conversation
Sexual repression and homophobia extend well beyond the church basements of Cypress, Texas. Many faiths across the country continue to use the Bible as justification for the oppression of members of the LGBTQ community. How do we counter prejudice with love and acceptance? Join us for this pre­show queer friendly celebration and stick around for this timely post­show conversation.

College Night: A Question of Faith
Friday, September 30 6:30pm
Pre­Show Celebration & Free Post­Show Performance
Young­adulthood often shakes the foundation of our beliefs. Tyrone, the demonic puppet from Hand to God, acts as Jason's outlet for his doubts and fears. What causes us to question our faith or beliefs? What happens when we do? Join us for a pre­show reception in the lobby featuring delicious drink specials & free pizza. Immediately following the performance of Hand to God, stick around for free post­ show performances featuring short scenes which explore the idea of community and understanding written, directed, and performed by college artists from DePaul University, University of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, and Northwestern University.

Hands Off
Sunday, October 2 at 9:00pm
Post­Show Workshop
While Margery and Timothy's sexual relationship in Hand to God may at times be disturbingly funny, child sexual abuse is not a laughing matter. Approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. What can we do to protect our children? Following the performance, join us for a workshop conducted by the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health on ways to recognize, prevent, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

Encuentro: La Marioneta
Thursday, October 6 at 6:30pm
Christian puppetry in Cypress, Texas isn't the only form of puppetry used for entertainment and educational purposes. In many Latin American countries, puppetries in various forms have been used historically to share stories, give warnings, and bring communities and families together. Join us for this special pre­show celebration hosted by Amor Montes de Oca (Arte y Vida), and then stick around for an enticing post­show puppet demonstration featuring works by Stephanie Diaz hosted by Adriana Diaz.

The Devil Made me Do It
Saturday, October 8 at 9:00pm
Post­Show Conversation
Beelzebub, Diablo, Abaddon. No matter what you call it, The Devil is known as the root of all-evil. In Hand to God, Satan comes to life as a hand puppet. Over the years The Devil has appeared in many forms, but how do they differ? How are they similar? Join us for this exhilarating post-show conversation about cross-cultural tales of the beast itself.

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

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew, 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.

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.

For more information about Victory Gardens, visit www.victorygardens.org. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/victorygardens, Twitter @VictoryGardens and Instagram at instagram.com/victorygardenstheater.


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