Victory Gardens Open 41st Season Tonight with Midwest Premiere of SUCKER PUNCH

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banner-desktop-01Victory Gardens Theater opens its 41st season with the Midwest Premiere of Sucker Punch by Roy Williams, directed by Dexter Bullard. Sucker Punch runs September 18 – October 18, 2015 with the press performance on Friday, September 25, 2015, at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Roy Willams to our Victory Gardens family as he makes his Chicago debut with Sucker Punch. I first met Roy when he was our guest on a panel of British playwrights of color that Victory Gardens hosted during our 2011 London Trip. I’ve since been a big fan of his work, especially Sucker Punch in which he masterfully captures the dreams and struggles of the Black British that mirrors our very own contemporary African American experience. I can’t wait for Chicago audiences to see this electrifying play and encounter one of Britain’s greatest contemporary playwrights,” comments Artistic Director Chay Yew.

The cast of Sucker Punch includes Taylor Blim (Becky), Walter Briggs (Tommy), Maurice Demus (Leon), Kenn E. Head (Squid), John Judd (Charlie), Denzel Love (Troy), André Teamer (Ray) and Jason Goff(referee/bailiff).

The creative team includes Tom Burch (scenic), Tif Bullard (costumes), Lee Fiskness (lighting), Christopher Kriz (sound), Jay Tollefsen (props), Ruben Gonzalez (fight choreographer) and Helen Lattyak (production stage manager).

It’s the 1980s, Michael Jackson rules the radio waves and Conan the Barbarian is the box office king at the movies. Aspiring black boxers, Leon and Troy, both have promising futures in the ring. When race riots explode in their London neighborhood, these two friends are forced to make a tough decision. Years later, they square off, facing each other and the men they have become. After premiering at The Royal Court in London, award-winning playwright Roy Williams’ Sucker Punch received four-star reviews from The London Times, Evening Standard, and The Telegraph and was called a “Knockout Punch” by The Guardian. This fast-paced, triumphant mid-west premiere takes an unflinching look at family, friends and the world of boxing.

About the Artists

Roy Williams (Playwright) Lift Off, Clubland, Fallout, Sucker Punch (Royal Court, Olivier Award Best play nomination for Sucker Punch), Category B, The Gift, Starstruck (Tricycle Theatre), Days of Significance  (Royal Shakespeare Company), Joe Guy (Soho Theatre/Tiata Fahodzi), Absolute Beginners (Lyric Hammersmith), Slowtime, Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, Baby Girl (National Theatre) The No-Boys Cricket Club, Kingston 14,Antigone (Theatre Royal Stratford East) Local Boy, Wildefire (Hampstead Theatre) Sixty Six Books (Bush Theatre) Little Sweet Thing, Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (UK Tour) Film & TV “Let It Snow,” “Fallout,” “Offside,” (BAFTA Award for “Offside”) “Babyfather, “Fast Girls.”

Dexter Bullard (Director) Victory Gardens: Circle Mirror Transformation. Broadway: Grace. Off-Broadway: Mistakes Were Made, Lady, Bug. Regional: The Big Meal (ATC), Odradek (House), Mistakes Were Made, Bug, In the Solitude of Cotton Fields, Place of Angels, Tis Pity She’s a Whore (Red Orchid), Reverie, Better Late Than Nader (Second City), Gas for Less (Goodman), Butcher of Baraboo (Steppenwolf), Tom & Jerry (American Blues), Tiny Dimes (Famous Door), 5xNo, Julius Caesar, Night at the Fights, Fun & Nobody, Bouncers (Next). Plasticene: From a Fading Light, One Fal$e Note, Blankslate, The Palmer Raids, And So I May Return, Head Poison, Come Like Shadows…, Volume XII, Refuge, Doorslam.

Taylor Blim (Becky) Taylor’s previous credits include: The Theatre School DePaul University: Assassins: The Musical, Gruesome Playground Injuries, Anna Bella Eema, Video Galaxy, Phantom Tollbooth. 

Walter Briggs (Tommy) Water’s previous credits include: Romeo Juliet, 12 Nights (American Repertory Theater), All Our Tragic (Getty Villa, LA).  Chicago:  All Our Tragic (The Hypocrites), Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad ZooNorth China Lover (Lookingglass), Hit The Wall (The Inconvenience/Steppenwolf), The Glass Menagerie (Mary-Arrchie). Film: Jessica, A Good Person, Ballad, and Older Children. 

Maurice Demus (Leon) Previous credits include: Really Really (Interrobang Theatre Project), Brothers Beckett (Black Fox Theatre), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Black Rep Theatre). Film & TV: “When the Lights Go Out,” “Chicago PD,” “Sirens.”

Kenn E. Head (Squid) is a veteran of the Chicago theatre scene. He is a familiar face on many Chicago stages appearing in Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Fish Men, The Convert  (Goodman Theatre); The Lost Boys of Sudan (Victory Gardens Theater) and Seven Guitars (Congo Square Theatre) where they garnered the coveted Jeff Award for Ensemble as well as Best Play. Kenn was also part of the Invisible Man and the production of Spunk (Court Theatre). Some of his most recent work includes The Overwhelming (Next Theater Company). Other theaters include Yale Repertory Theatre and American Theater Company. Television credits include “ER” and “Early Edition” as well as various commercials.

John Judd (Charlie) returns to Victory Gardens where he appeared in Death And The Maiden. He has performed at The Goodman Theatre: The Little Foxes, Measure For Measure, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Iceman Cometh, A Christmas Carol, Magnolia, Shining City. At Steppenwolf: Three Sisters, Clybourne Park, The Butcher Of Baraboo, Last Of The Boys, The Dresser, Orson’s Shadow, Our Town, Golden Boy. At Writer’s Theatre:Othello, Crime And Punishment, The Price. At Chicago Shakespeare Theatre: The Feast: An Intimate Tempest, Romeo And Juliet. At Northlight: The Lieutenant Of Inishmore, The Cripple Of Inishmaan. At Court: Lettice And Lovage, Gross Indecency. At Lookingglass: Great Men Of Science. At A Red Orchid: Gagarin Way. At Profiles: Wrecks, At About Face: Execution Of Justice, Shattered Globe: Come Back Little Sheba, Next: A Number, The Boarding House, Irish Rep: Long Day’s Journey Into Night, The Journeymen: Angels In America parts I and II. Off-Broadway: The Iceman Cometh at BAM, Crime And Punishment at 59E59, Orson’s Shadowat Barrow Street. Regionally and Internationally: Tribes at Actor’s Theatre Of Louisville, City Theatre Pittsburgh, Philadelphia Theatre Co., The Rainmaker at The Old Globe, San Diego, American Buffalo at McCarter Theatre Princeton, Shining City at Huntington Theatre Boston, Orson’s Shadow at Williamstown, Westport Country Playhouse, and Beaver Creek Colorado, Long Day’s Journey Into Night at Town Hall Theatre in Galway, Ireland.

Denzel Love (Troy) Denzel’s previous credits include: A Charlie Brown Christmas (Emerald City), Coat Check (Dandelion Theatre). The Theatre School Credits: Last days of Judas Iscariot, In the Heights, Our Town, John Henry. TV/Film: “Chicago PD,” “They Wake Up,” “Veracity.”

André Teamer (Ray) Andre’s previous credits include: Windy City Playhouse: Stick Fly; Eclipsed:  Ruined; Court: Jitney; NEXT: Luck Of The Irish; Black Ensemble: The Trial Of Moses Fleetwood Walker; MPAACT: Warm On The Cooling Board. Film & TV: “The Christmas Tree,” “Love Shorts,” “Market Value, “The Playboy Club,” “Chicago PD,” “EMPIRE.”

About Victory Gardens Theater

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Managing Director Christopher Mannelli, 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. With Victory Gardens’ first new Artistic Director in 34 years, the company remains committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, continuing the vision set forth by Dennis Zacek, 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 Zacek-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. 

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 and Twitter @VictoryGardens.

Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from The Wallace Foundation, Alphawood Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Shubert Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Allstate Insurance, Polk Bros. Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Orli Staley Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, and The REAM Foundation. Additional funding is provided by: Abbot Downing & Wells Fargo, Alliance Bernstein, The Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, a City Arts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Exelon, The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, Illinois Arts Council (a state agency),  Illinois Tool Works, Italian Village Restaurants, Mayer Brown LLP, The McVay Foundation, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, LLP, The Prince Charitable Trusts, The Saints, Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Southwest Airlines, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, and Wrightwood Neighbors Conservation Association.

 

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