Victory Gardens Theater Announces New Members Of Its Playwrights Ensemble

Jun 25, 2021
Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago

Victory Gardens Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Ken-Matt Martin and Acting Managing Director Roxanna Conner, welcomes Marisa Carr, Keelay Gipson, Isaac Gomez and Stacey Rose as the new members of the Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble. The Ensemble will be members for a three-year term, through 2024.

"After two months of listening to the Playwrights Ensemble alumni and learning about the history and goals of the Ensemble, I'm excited to share my vision for the future of this program," shared Ken-Matt Martin. "By bringing playwrights into artistic and board of directors meetings, as well as involving them in programming the Ignition Festival of New Plays, we are deepening the impact and broadening the opportunities for these playwrights, while still supporting the development of their artistic practice by presenting new work. I look forward to working with all of them, and seeing the impact of their insight and artistry on Victory Gardens and the American Theatre over their tenure."

Each Ensemble cohort will consist of four playwrights with a three-year term of membership. During their term, each Ensemble playwright is guaranteed one production of a world-premiere play at Victory Gardens, and one reading at the Ignition Festival of New Plays. Victory Gardens will also serve as a developmental home for Ensemble playwrights, offering space and support for new projects and connecting them with artists in Chicago and across the country.

All Playwrights Ensemble members will have the opportunity to participate in Victory Gardens artistic department meetings and Board of Directors meetings, as well as assist in selecting projects for each year's Ignition Festival. The members of the next cohort of the Playwrights Ensemble will be chosen by the current Playwrights Ensemble members, ensuring that Ensemble members are true partners in charting the artistic course of Victory Gardens Theater.

Marisa Carr is a playwright from Milwaukee, now living in Chicago after a decade in the Twin Cities. Her work has been presented and/or produced by institutions including: Milwaukee Rep, The Guthrie, Pillsbury House + Theater, the Playwrights' Center, Montana Repertory Theater, Intermedia Arts, and University of Iowa MFA Program. Selected recent awards and honors include: Montana Repertory Theater Warren Miller Commission (2021), Goodman Playwrights Unit (2020-2021), Scratchpad at the Playwrights' Realm (2019-2020), P73 Finalist (2019-20), American Blues Theater Blue Ink Award Finalist (2020), Bay Area Playwrights' Festival Finalist (2019), McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting Finalist (2019), Jerome Artist Fellowship Finalist (2019), Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep (2018), Forward Flux Three New American Plays Commission (2018), Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant (2017), Playwrights' Center Many Voices Fellowship (2016-17), Pillsbury House + Theater Naked Stages Fellowship (2015), and "Best New Political Playwright" (Lavender Magazine, 2014). Marisa is also Co-Founder/former Artistic Director of the Turtle Theater Collective, a Twin Cities-based company committed to producing high-quality, contemporary work that explores Native experiences and subverts expectations about how and when Native artists can create theater, and has taught playwriting for theaters including the Guthrie and Jungle Theatre. She is Turtle Mountain Ojibwe from the Turtle clan.

Keelay Gipson is an Activist, Professor, and award-winning Playwright whose plays include demons. (JAG Fest/Dartmouth HOP Center), The Red and the Black (Finalist; The O'Neill, Sundance Theatre Lab), #NewSlaves (Finalist; Princess Grace, The O'Neill, Seven Devils), imagine sisyphus happy (Finalist; The O'Neill, P73 Summer Residency) CRH, or the placenta play (Semi- Finalist; The O'Neill, Bay Area Playwrights Conference, AADA Main Stage Live!), Nigger/Faggot (Downtown Urban Theater Festival), The Lost Or, How to Just B (Kernodle New Play Award), What I Tell You in the Dark (Finalist; Premiere Stages at Kean University), and Mary/Stuart, a dramatic queering of Friederich Schiller's classic play (BAM Next Wave Festival, partnership with Wendy's Subway and Lambda Literary). He is the recipient of a Barrington Stage Spark Grant, the NYSAF Founders' Award, the Van Lier Fellowship at New Dramatists, as well as writing fellowships with La Madison Baldwin, Lambda Literary, The Amoralists, Page 73 and the Dramatist Guild Foundation. He has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of New York, the Administration of Children's Services of the City of New York, New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Season at Vassar College and Yale University. His work has been developed at The Bushwick Starr, Wild Project, HERE Arts Center, Pace University, West Connecticut University, National Black Theater, Rattlestick Playwrights' Theater, The Fire This Time Festival, Classical Theater of Harlem, and New York Theatre Workshop. He is published in The Best American Short Plays anthology by Applause Theatre and Cinema Books and 48 Hours in Harlem, Vol. 3 by Harlem9. He has taught workshops, courses and masterclasses at NYU, Pace University, Rutgers University, Fordham, and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Keelay and fellow playwright's ensemble member Stacey Rose developed the "Requirements for BIPOC Artists" survey to hold theatres accountable.

Isaac Gomez is an award-winning Chicago- and Los Angeles-based playwright and screenwriter originally from El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He is currently under commission with LCT3, Steppenwolf Theater Company, South Coast Repertory, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and IAMA Theatre Company. His plays have been produced and/or developed by Audible Theater, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Primary Stages, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Goodman Theatre, the Alley Theatre, and many others. He is the recipient of the 2018 Dramatists Guild Lanford Wilson Award, the 2017 Jeffry Melnick New Playwright Award at Primary Stages, an inaugural 3Arts "Make A Wave" grantee. His television credits include the Netflix Original Series Narcos: Mexico, Kings of America on Netflix, and is currently working on upcoming Apple TV+ Limited Series The Last Thing He Told Me. On the feature side, he is currently under development with a full-length feature at Focus Features. He enjoys good bowls of menudo on Sundays (con bolillos not tortillas, porfis) and can slay a game of millennial loteria. He is represented by The Gersh Agency, ReDefine Entertainment, and Granderson Des Rochers, LLP.

Stacey Rose is a Charlotte-based, award-winning, nationally produced playwright. Her work celebrates and explores Blackness, Black identity, body politics and the dilemma of life as the "other." Stacey has held fellowships/residencies with The Arts & Science Council, The Dramatists Guild, The Playwrights' Center, Sundance Theatre Lab, The Goodman Theatre, The Civilians, and Tofte Lake Center. Her work has been presented at: The Fire This Time Festival, The Lark, The Amoralists Theatre Company, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, National Black Theatre, Pillsbury House Theater, Barrington Stage Company, and Kansas City Rep. Stacey's plays America v. 2.1, As Is and Legacy Land were featured on the Kilroys' list. Stacey is a recipient of a 2019 Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Women's Commissioning Grant in partnership with Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre and an Alfred P. Sloan foundation commission in partnership with Manhattan Theatre Club. She currently writes for 9-1-1 on Fox. Stacey, along with director Martin Damien Wilkins, co-founded the Queen City New Play Initiative to support local and southern playwrights in the creation of new work for the stage.

The Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble Alumni are Luis Alfaro, Claudia Allen, Lonnie Carter, Steve Carter, Gloria Bond Clunie, Dean Corrin, Nilo Cruz, Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Ike Holter, Samuel D. Hunter, Naomi Iizuka, Joel Drake Johnson, John Logan, Nicholas Patriccia, Douglas Post, Tanya Saracho, Laura Schellhardt, James Sherman, Charles Smith, Jeffrey Sweet, and Kristine Thatcher.