Victory Gardens Announces Casting for IGNITION

Victory Gardens Announces Casting for IGNITION

Pictured: Left to right: (top row) Charin Alvarez, McKenzie Chinn, Jalen Gilbert, Jyreika Guest, Eddie Martinez, Casey Morris,(bottom row) Monica Orozco, Krystal Ortiz, Eleni Pappageorge, Stephanie Shum, Courtney Williams, and Aurora Adachi-Winter.

Victory Gardens Theater has announced the lineup for the 11th Anniversary IGNITION Festival of New Plays, including The Tasters by Meghan Brown; The Gradient by Steph Del Rosso; [hieroglyph] by Erika Dickerson-Despenza; #NEWSLAVES by Keelay Gipson; Reckoning: Furies from a New Queer Nation by Geraldine Inoa; and They Could Give No Name by Exal Iraheta.

IGNITION’s six selected plays will be presented in a festival of readings and will be directed by Lili-Anne Brown, Mikael Burke, Monty Cole, Elly Green, Devon de Mayo, and Artistic Director Chay Yew.

“I’m excited to introduce a brave new generation of American playwrights for our eleventh edition of Victory Gardens’ IGNITION Festival of New Plays,” comments Yew. “This year, we give a home to emerging playwrights who shine light on our diverse humanity, whose powerful plays create meaningful dialogue towards a more unified and equitable world.”

The 2019 Lineup (from the press release):

Friday, August 2 at 7:30pm
By Keelay Gipson
Directed by Mikael Burke

This Is the Story of Football and Football is the Story of America. A Sports Fantasia on the Commodification of the Black Body in America – Using the NFL Draft as a jumping off point, the show follows three black men as they attempt to free themselves from the history of a nation pitted against itself.

#NEWSLAVES features Amir Abdullah (The Black Body/John Freeman), Tiffany Bedwell (Sharon/Pratt), Sheldon Brown (Frankie), McKenzie Chinn (Kenya/Scout #1), Bernard Gilbert (Merk/Scout #3), Jalen Gilbert (Renard), Casey Morris (Corrections Officer/Others), Miguel Nuñez (Flaco/Others), and Edgar Sanchez (Johnson)

Saturday, August 3 at 11am
They Could Give No Name
By Exal Iraheta
Directed by Chay Yew

Somewhere in the southern end of Arizona, medical examiner Nellie Ramirez descends into near-madness when her fiancé, a border patrol agent, accidentally kills a young immigrant girl. In order to save her future family, Nellie must make a decision that threatens to tear her life apart. Little does she know that soon the desert will come to collect what is due to it. This macabre, magical play takes an unsettling look at the complexities of identity, cruelty of immigration, and the power behind a name.

They Could Give No Name features Charin Alvarez (Victoria), Eddie Martinez (Terry), Monica Orozco (Nellie), Krystal Ortiz (Ana) and Colin Sphar (Nick).

Saturday, August 3 at 2pm
Reckoning: Furies from a New Queer Nation
By Geraldine Inoa
Directed by Monty Cole

2015: a year when the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on marriage equality coincided with a record number of trans women being murdered. Reckoning: Furies from a New Queer Nation examines the most pressing issues affecting Queer America today: gay white male privilege and the systemic oppression of trans women. Because when a Supreme Court ruling like marriage equality passes, we must ask: what did we accomplish and who did we leave behind?

Reckoning: Furies from a New Queer Nation features Vita Eya Cleveland (Afrikanza), Jyreika Guest (Rashida), Niko Kourtis (Parker), Linda Reiter (Nancy), Lyonel Reneau (Isaiah), and Laura Walls (Juanita). The roles of Cassie and Maya will be announced at a later date.

Saturday, August 3 at 7:30pm
The Tasters
By Meghan Brown
Directed by Devon de Mayo

With government leaders getting poisoned left and right, the Tasters have an important job — eating delicious, gourmet meals, and then waiting to see if they die. When rebellious Taster Elyse goes on hunger strike, she kicks off a series of events that will change the course of history… while putting all of the Tasters’ lives in jeopardy. In her sharp, energetic new play, Meghan Brown (The Pliant Girls) explores the nuances of political resistance, self-interest, and individual action creating hope in the face of hopelessness.

The Tasters features Aurora Adachi-Winter (Bianca), Japhet Balaban (The General) Kate Fry (Elyse), Daniella Pereira (Corrine), Collin Quinn Rice (Lt. Sawyer)

Sunday, August 4 at 11am
By Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown

Involuntarily displaced in Chicago two months post-Katrina, 13-year-old Davis wrestles with the cultural landscape of a new city and school community while secretly coping with the PTSD of an assault at the Superdome. With her mother still in New Orleans committed to the fight for Black land ownership and her father committed to starting a new life in the Midwest, divorce threatens to further separate a family already torn apart. Will Davis be left hanging in the balance? [hieroglyph] traverses the intersection of environmental racism, sexual violence, and displacement, examining the psychological effects of a state-sanctioned man-made disaster on the most vulnerable members of the Katrina diaspora.

[hieroglyph] features Karla C. Beard (Ms. T), Kyra Jones (Leah), Andre Teamer (Ernest), Courtney Williams (Davis)

Playwright Panel
Sunday, August 4 at 1:45pm
Richard Christiansen Theater
Moderated by Victory Gardens Artistic Director Chay Yew

Join us for a panel with festival artists as we discuss the power, pressures and challenges of being a storyteller in America today—and tomorrow.

Sunday, August 4 at 3pm
The Gradient
By Steph Del Rosso
Directed by Elly Green

Tess just landed her dream job at sleek tech start-up The Gradient: a center where men accused of sexual misconduct are sent to be rehabilitated. The clients go in with a lifetime of toxic male conditioning and emerge as new people, sensitized and redeemed. It sounds too good to be true, and maybe it is. The Gradient asks what it means to say I’m sorry and whether it’s possible for people to truly change.

The Gradient features Matt Fletcher (Clients 1-9), Kroydell Galima (Louis), Eleni Pappageorge (Natalia), Stephanie Shum (Tess) and Demetrios Troy (Jackson)

All readings are free and open to the public, though a reservation is strongly encouraged. For more information visit

About author


PerformInk is Chicago's entertainment industry trade publication.