Victory Gardens Presents …and the whole train was like…, 6/28-7/1


Victory Gardens presents …and the whole train was like…, written and performed by The VG Poets Conservatory. Directed by Sean Kelly and Rachel Claff, the show reveals the inner musings of six poets who board a train bound for the heart of Chicago. Along their journey their stories of pride, prejudice, truth, and humor collide resulting in a thought provoking, witty, and always candid dialogue about who we are and perhaps more importantly, where we’re going. Performances will run Thursday, June 28 – Saturday, June 30 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, July 1 at 4:00 pm in the Richard Christianson Theater at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park.

The Poets Conservatory, developed in collaboration with Victory Gardens Theater and Young Chicago Authors, aims to engage, nurture and develop a new generation of theater artists through an extensive mentorship and professional development program for Louder Than a Bomb alumni. Through the exploration of fundamentals in performance and storytelling, the ensemble gains a greater awareness of how poetic voice can be broadened, forging a new trajectory for language in performance. The Poets Conservatory provides Victory Gardens Theater with a unique opportunity to further its commitment to fostering and producing the work of new playwrights. Through new and original initiatives in arts education Victory Gardens Theater reaffirms its mission of providing a platform for the voices of emerging artists to be heard in playwritings’ most vivid and varied forms.

The Poets Conservatory writers and performers include: Eazy Burnett, Annalissia-Kiana “KeeKey” Itson, Rachel “Raych” Jackson, Dominique James, Britteney Black Rose Kapri, Maurice Meaway.

Eazy Burnett (Ensemble) grew up on the Westside of Chicago and first discovered writing as a creative outlet when he was in 4th grade through an educational story-writing program for children. Since then he has participated in several writing programs and competitions. Since 2009 he has been active with Young Chicago Authors where he currently teaches and participates in workshops. He currently is in a rap duo, called Two4Fifteen, along with “Be” Williams, and they will be dropping an EP July 2012 entitled “…As A Kite”. In terms of music they’ve performed at various open mics and shows around Chicago, most notably at the Who’s The Boss Concert. As a poet Eazy’s performed at The Art Institute of Chicago and shared the stage with prominent artists in the spoken word industry like M’Reld Green and Kevin Coval.

Annalissia-Kiana “KeeKey” Itson (Ensemble) grew up on the Southside of Chicago, discovering poetry as a positive outlet in 7th grade. She quickly developed a passion for writing and performance and participated in Louder Than a Bomb in 2004. Her first publication soon followed in an anthology entitled, Hands On Stanzas. She began attending Saturday writing classes at YCA her sophomore year of high school. After experiencing several Kuumba Lynx performances, she joined the Hip-Hop theatre ensemble in 2006. Further establishing her art with Kuumba Lynx ultimately lead to an LTAB victory and starring in a play at Steppenwolf Theatre in 2008, as well as sharing stages with Kanye West, KRS One, Lupe Fiasco, Angela Davis, Saul Williams, Marc Bamuti Joseph, Danny Hoch, Kevin Coval, Patricia Smith, Poppin’ Chuck, Chicago FootworKINGz, and Rebel Diaz just to name a few.

Rachel “Raych” Jackson (Ensemble) is a Chicago native who is currently studying Elementary Education at DePaul University. She has performed across the nation in cities such as Grand Valley, Michigan and New York. Rachel will teach in a school of need in the near future following the completion of her degree and plans to build her own school for youth in the future. Rachel has already written a short play for Victory Gardens Theater and is currently working on another. The subject matter surrounding her work is varied and ranges from poetic verse that explores her family’s history of drug abuse, to character driven fiction.

Dominique James (Ensemble) will graduate from Walter Payton College Prep in 2013. Former Louder Than a Bomb champion, and current Golden Gloves champion, Dominique has a diverse array of interests. In 2012 she pioneered a poetry and literacy class at Reavis Elementary School teaching middle-schoolers. The Poets Conservatory at Victory Gardens Theater has been her first experience with theatre. In addition to athletics and spoken word, she also likes ice cream and flowers (if you ever wonder about the key to her heart).

Britteney Black Rose Kapri (Ensemble) is a teaching artist, writer, performance poet, and playwright based out of Chicago. She is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University. She is a member of the Not Enough Mics collective. She has been an ensemble member, turned teaching artist for Kuumba Lynx since 1998. She has been a participant, graduate turned teaching artist of Young Chicago Authors since 2003. She was a representative of Young Chicago Authors at the National Poetry Slam in 2009. She has performed at Chicago Hip Hop Theater Festival, Taste of Chicago, The Encyclopedia Show, The Writer’s Guild’s Palbra Pura and WBEZs Word Across the Generations. Two of her works were featured in the Victory Garden’s One Minute Play Festival 2012. She has her first solo book project due for release in 2013. She is a co-founder of DMC Slam and the Who’s the Boss Benefit Concert.

Maurice Meaway (Ensemble) A ‘renaissance man’ based in the scope of literature, Maurice Meaway is a writer, poet, emcee and teaching artist associated with The Board of the Young Chicago Authors who’s performed alongside acts such as Bop Alloy (Substantial & Marcus D), Ill-Literacy (including Aja Monet), Kevin Coval, Saul Williams, Manny Garcia, as well as the 33rd Annual Chicago Jazz Festival and Printer's Row. Front man for the Jazz/Hip Hop band As Told by Heroes, member of the Terra 5 artist collective and its subgroup InAniMate, his publications range from articles written for Chi-Tea Magazine and reviews for Blending jazz inspired narratives in his body of work, while delivering a smooth, yet ecstatic aura in his performances, Maurice continues to write with the motif of a Space Cowboy- or even a Gangster of Love.

Rachel Claff (Director) is a member of the solo performance ensemble BoyGirlBoyGirl, most recently appearing in The American Drink Book as part of the 2012 Rhino Fest. She is an alumnus of the Neo-Futurists, appearing in Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind from 1996 to 2003, and co-creating such original works as Curious Beautiful (2000), The Sycamore Story (2001), and Fear (2009). She is the creator of It Came from the Neo-Futurarium! (2002–2011), a festival of staged readings of the “best worst movies ever made.” She has debuted spoken-word pieces around Chicago at Write Club, The Encyclopedia Show, The Paper Machete, The Partly Dave Show, The Dollar Store Show, and Live Bait’s Fillet of Solo festival. She has also served as a coach for Louder Than A Bomb. Claff received her MA in Cultural Performance from the University of Bristol in 2007.

Sean Kelly (Director) has directed The Fantasticks (Porchlight), English Class Heretics (Victory Gardens), Psychonaut Librarians (Collaboraction Sketchbook), Literally Sexy (Victory Gardens), Pancake Breakfast (The New Colony), The Glass Menagerie (Old World), Aesop and Icarus (Manhattan Rep), Master Harold and the Boys (Old World). Sean is a company member of The New Colony and an artistic associate of Porchlight Music Theatre.

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