Victory Gardens Announces Ignition Festival Casting

Victory Gardens Announces Ignition Festival Casting

Victory Gardens has announced casting for the 2017 IGNITION Festival of New Plays, which features the works TUVALU, OR THE SADDEST SONG by Antoinette Nwandu; THIS LAND WAS MADE by Tori Sampson; SPIN MOVES by Ken Weitzman; TELL THEM I’M STILL YOUNG by Julia Doolittle; WOLF PLAY by Hansol Jung; and SUSPENSION by Kristiana Rae Colón. The 2017 Festival runs August 4-6, 2017 at Victory Gardens Theater. All readings are free and open to the public, though a reservation is encouraged. For more information or to RSVP, visit or call the Victory Gardens Box Office at 773.871.3000.

Casts are listed following each production’s description below (from the press release):

Friday, August 4, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
By Antoinette Nwandu
Directed by Jess McLeod
It is Los Angeles in the mid-nineties, and Jackie-girl is at a crossroads. This lyrical and powerful coming of age story with a soundtrack asks how the girls whose mothers’ lives have been tainted by abuse, violence, poverty, and shame ever grow into healthy and empowered women.

TUVALU, OR THE SADDEST SONG features Aneisa J. Hicks (Jackie), Curtis Edward Jackson (Boy), Al’Jaleel McGhee (Man), Lanise Antoine Shelley (Momma), Kelly O’Sullivan (Nicole) and Penelope Walker (Raylene). Additional casting to be announced.

IGNITION Opening Night Kick-Off at 9:30 p.m.
Victory Gardens Theater Lobby
Stick around for this opening night celebration with a live DJ, delicious appetizers, and complimentary drinks as we raise a glass to kick off our IGNITION Festival of New Plays.

Saturday, August 5, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.
By Tori Sampson
Directed by Chika Ike
Oakland in 1967 was a powder keg of social activism about to boil over into radical action that would soon change how the whole country engaged in politics. For the patrons of Miss Trish’s Bar, however, these ain’t nothing but talking points—that is, until the full seductive and explosive force of the revolution walks through the door.

THIS LAND WAS MADE features Tyla Abercrumbie (Miss Trish), Will Allan (Herbert Heanes), Ayanna Bria Bakari (Gail), Jordan Brodess (John Frey), Sheldon Brown (Troy), Bernard Gilbert (Huey), Martasia Jones (Sassy), Daniel Kyri (Drew/Gene) and Dexter Zollicoffer (Mr. Far).

Bringing New Plays to Life at 5:00 p.m.
Panel Conversation
Rehearsal Room
Victory Gardens is home to some of the richest and boldest new plays premiering across the country. In a city where audiences are hungry for new theater work, what is the current state of new play development and its future? What are the best practices for new play collaborations? Join this timeless conversation on the new play process featuring IGNITION playwrights Antoinette Nwandu, Tori Sampson, Ken Weitzman, Julia Doolittle, Hansol Jung, and Kristiana Rae Colón.

Saturday, August 5, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
By Ken Weitzman
Directed by Devon de Mayo
It’s 1996, the inaugural year of the WNBA, and Maja dreams of playing high school basketball – but having escaped to the U.S. from the war in Bosnia, panic attacks prevent her from playing the game she loves. That is, until a new coach appears at her high school. He helps Maja to face her fears, but his unorthodox tactics alarm Maja’s fiercely protective mother.

SPIN MOVES features Brian Balcom (Willam), Hayley Burgess (Maya), Gabriel Ruiz (Coach), Kristina Valada-Viars (Melika) and Netta Walker (Trish).

Artist Meet, Greet, & Ice Cream Social at 9:30 p.m.
Victory Gardens Theater Lobby
Hang out with the playwrights and artists while cooling off with boozy ice cream floats at this post-show artist meet and greet.

Sunday, August 6, 2017 at 12:00 p.m.
By Julia Doolittle
Directed by Jessica L. Fisch
Allen and Kay are approaching sixty-five when their only daughter is killed in a car crash. Now parents without children, the two struggle to renegotiate their identities and their marriage, as the entrance of two young people revives a painful longing for what’s been lost: their family and their futures.

TELL THEM I’M STILL YOUNG features Marilyn Dodds Frank (Kay), Bryce Gangel (Taylor) and Joe Lino (Seth). Additional casting to be announced.

Sunday, August 6, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.
By Hansol Jung
Directed by Halena Kays
An American father un-adopts a Korean boy but just before he leaves the new house, the ex-father finds out that the new couple to whom he has “re-homed” his ex-son, is lesbian. This doesn’t sit well with ex-father at all. The boy is actually not a real boy. He is a puppet. And his puppeteer is the Emcee of the evening, and spinner of the night’s tale: a lone wolf.

WOLF PLAY features Charin Alvarez (Robin), Eddie Martinez (Ryan), Patrese McClain (Ash), Alec Silver (Wolf), and Eric Slater (Peter).

The Race Race at 5:00 p.m.
Panel Conversation
Richard Christiansen Theater
In a country so divided and polarized by topics of race, how are these conflicts reflected in the dramatic arts? What role does theater play in conversations around race and how can it begin the process of healing and understanding? Join IGNITION and Chicago-based playwrights as we begin to uncover the role race plays in creating new work.

Sunday, August 6, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
By Kristiana Rae Colón
Directed by Monty Cole
On the 100th day of 45’s first term, two Black teen girls stage a coup of the authoritarian regime of Climb & Succeed Charter Academy, a not-so-dystopian high school where campus security patrols the halls in riot gear and a new disciplinary code takes in-school suspension to a haunting extreme. Voltaire & Yansa, guided by a mystic teaching artist, learn to wield their ancestral magic and Blackgirl badassery to combat the harrowing militarization of public education.

SUSPENSION features Caren Blackmore (yennenga uhura), Amy J. Carle (panoptica), Amanda Drinkall (ms. max), Brandon Greenhouse (mr. blaise), LaKecia Harris (yansa turner), Rory Hayes (rabbit), Kiah McKirnan (mika hampton), Ireon Roach (voltaire pride) and Sejah-Amaru Villegas (riley).

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