Victory Gardens awarded Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant

Feb 4, 2013
Marcus Gardley

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Victory Gardens Ensemble Playwright Marcus Gardley a three-year playwright residency at Victory Gardens as part of a new $3.7 million initiative. Gardley, along with 13 other playwrights, will receive a salary and benefits for 3 years, while in residence at theaters in 11 different communities across the United States. A $260,000 grant will be given to Victory Gardens for the residency. Gardley will permanently relocate to Chicago.

"I am extremely honored to have been selected for a Mellon Residency Grant," said Gardley. "To call Victory Gardens my artistic home-in the truest sense of that expression-is a dream for me artistically, professionally, and personally. As part of my long-term residency at Victory Gardens, I plan to work with the staff and artists on a variety of audience engagement activities around several productions each season, putting me in direct contact with stakeholders in the Chicago community. I look forward to directly engaging with the community to inform Victory Gardens about its current audience interests, thus enabling me to introduce Victory Gardens to new communities while writing plays that speak to these potential new audiences."

"Marcus has a singular voice and possesses an unflinching ability to poetically describe the African-American experience both nationally and regionally," said Artistic Director Chay Yew. "As a new member of our current Playwrights Ensemble, this Mellon residency will afford Marcus even more freedom to develop and produce new work within an artistic home. He will have the opportunity to completely engage in the artistic and administrative life at Victory Gardens; including leveraging his role with us to full liaise and engage with Chicago's diverse communities and engage with the next generation of theatre artists and audiences throughout highly respected educational programs."

In Spring 2012, Marcus Gardley was selected for the new Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble, which also includes Philip Dawkins, Samuel D. Hunter and Tanya Saracho. The addition of these unique artists reaffirmed Victory Gardens' mission of nurturing and producing new work for the American Theater and reinforced the theater's vision of supporting artistic risk-taking, collaborations that develop new work, and a long-term commitment to playwrights. The current season features two new works by the current Ensemble - Failure: A Love Story by Philip Dawkins and The Whale by Samuel Hunter.

Marcus Gardley is a poet-playwright who is the recent James Baldwin Fellow, one of 50 USA award recipients for 2012. He is also the 2011 PEN Laura Pels award winner for Mid-Career Playwright and a Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence Grantee with Victory Gardens in Chicago. The New Yorker describes Gardley as "the heir to Garcia Lorca, Pirandello and Tennessee Williams." His most recent production, Every Tongue Confess premiered at Arena Stage starring Phylicia Rashad and directed by Kenny Leon. It was nominated for the Steinberg New Play Award, the Charles MacArthur Award for Best Play and was the recipient of the Edgerton New Play Award. His musical, On The Levee premiered last summer at Lincoln Center and was nominated for 11 Audelco Awards including outstanding playwright. Last Spring, his critically acclaimed epic And Jesus moonwalks the Mississippi was produced at the Cutting Ball Theater and received the SF Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award had two sold-out extensions. His Bay Area plays: This World in a Woman's Hands (October 2009) and Love is a Dream House in Lorin (March 2007) have been hailed as the best in Bay Area theater. The latter was nominated for the National Critics Steinberg New Play Award. He has had six plays produced including: dance of the holy ghosts at Yale Repertory Theatre (now under a Broadway option,) (L)imitations of Life, at the Empty Space in Seattle, WA and like sun fallin' in the mouth at the National Black Theatre Festival. He is the recipient of the 2011 Aetna New Voice Fellowship at Hartford Stage, the Hellen Merrill Award, a Kellsering Honor, the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Award, a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Grant, a NEA/TCG Playwriting Participant Residency, the Eugene O'Neill Memorial Scholarship and the ASCAP Cole Porter Prize. He holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Yale Drama School and is a member of The Dramatists Guild and the Lark Play Development Center. Gardley is a professor of Theater and Performance Studies at Brown University.