Victory Gardens Announces IGNITION Lineup

Left to right: Meghan Brown, Steph Del Rosso, Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Keelay Gipson, Geraldine Inoa and Exal Iraheta

Victory Gardens Theater has announced the lineup for the 2019 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.

“This year’s Ignition Festival includes six of the most exciting new voices writing today. Each piece is exploring our complicated world and the people in it with a rich complexity and vibrant urgency that demands these stories be told,” said Victory Gardens’ Director of New Play Development Skyler Gray. “I could not be more excited to introduce Chicago to these powerhouse writers who are paving a new road in the American Theater.”

The plays will be presented as readings August 2 -4, 2019 at Victory Gardens’ 2433 N Lincoln Avenue home. Admission is free and open to the public, though reservations are strongly encouraged. For more information or to RSVP, visit www.victorygardens.org/ignition or call the Victory Gardens Box Office at 773.871.3000.


The 2019 IGNITION Lineup:
(Descriptions from a press release)

Friday, August 2 at 7:30pm
“#NEWSLAVES”
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.

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.

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?

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.

Sunday, August 4 at 11am
“[hieroglyph]”
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.

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.

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