Arts Education Director
Robert Cornelius is an actor and singer who has been involved in arts education for over thirty years, having served as Arts Education Director at VG for the past seven. Prior to that, he was president of an alternative school he and his sister incorporated, The Chicago Academy for Learning and Theatre Lab, which was primarily funded by a grant from DHS. The Academy worked with first time offenders to get their aptitude scores up, and reintegrate them back into their high school classes using theater techniques to enhance their curriculum. Over the years, Robert has served as a teaching artist, director, consultant, and advocate for organizations such as Urban Gateways, CAPE, Court Theatre, and VG, among others, as well as being a founding member of the Chicago Arts Educators Forum (CAEF). In 2011, he was honored with an award from the Illinois Theatre Association for Excellence in Arts Education. Robert continues to fight for exposure to the arts for every CPS student, and advance the idea of the arts as a necessary learning tool.
Director of New Play Development
Isaac Gomez is the Director of New Play Development at Victory Gardens Theater, where he coordinates the Ignition Festival of New Plays, the theater’s new play development program, the Public Programs event series, and has served as the production dramaturg on a number of plays including the Midwest premiere of Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary, Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden (starring acclaimed actress Sandra Oh) and the Midwest premiere of Ensemble Playwright and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Samuel D. Hunter’s Rest. Upon moving to Chicago, Isaac completed a Literary/Dramaturgy internship at the Goodman Theatre, to which his dramaturgy credits included Cheryl West’s Pullman Porter Blues, Martin Zimmerman’s The Solid Sand Below, and Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale (Joseph Jefferson Award – Best New Play). As a playwright, his most recent works include The Women of Juarez (Cohen New Works Festival), an ethnographic piece centered on the mass murder of women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The Women of Juarez was additionally presented as a Lunada table reading with Chicago’s Teatro Luna, and is the recipient of the Austin Critics Table David Mark Cohen New Play Award for 2013. He is an administrative associate at the Alliance of Latino Theatre Artists (ALTA) in Chicago, an Artistic Associate with Teatro Vista, and an active member of the national Latina/o Theater Commons. A recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Isaac is also a recipient of the University of Texas George H. Mitchell Award for Academic Excellence
Artistic Programs Manager
Laura Alcalá Baker is the Artistic Programs Manager at Victory Gardens Theater where she coordinates the Access Project, the Director’s Inclusion Initiative, Resident Theaters and the Casting Department among other producorial responsibilities. Laura is a freelance director and producer. Her most recent endeavor, The Way She Spoke: A Docu-Mythologia by Isaac Gomez, opened for the Solo Celebration! at Greenhouse Theater Center. Some of her favorite directing credits include Equivocation, The Giver, 11:11, and Collapse at B Street Theatre. Laura has worked as an assistant director to May Adrales on Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them and Seth Bockley on the world premiere of Samsara by Lauren Yee. She directed Sean Graney’s There is No Message in the Message at The Gift Theatre’s opening festival TEN, and a public reading of K. Frithjof Peterson’s Bosons. Laura is a company member at Haven Theater.