World Premiere


by Lauren Yee | directed by Seth Bockley
February 6 – March 8, 2015

Americans Katie and Craig are having a baby with Suraiya, a surrogate from India. As all three “parents” anxiously await the baby’s due date, Katie and Suraiya are attacked by flights of their imagination: a seductive Frenchman and a sharp-tongued fetus. Originally developed at Victory Gardens’ IGNITION New Play Festival in 2012, this smart world premiere comedy takes us on a hilarious and highly theatrical journey into 21st century parenthood.

Samsara Sponsors

“A Lithe and Very ​Funny New Play.”
Read the Time Out Chicago Review

“Hilariously Funny.
Wildly Entertaining.
Playwright Lauren Yee at her Sparkling Best.”
Read the Chicago Sun-Times Review

“Genuinely Moving”
Read the Chicago Tribune Review

Read this New York Times article that first inspired Samsara.

Public Programs is an event series designed to enhance your experience by exploring the themes and issues within Victory Gardens’ Productions. Connecting our theater to the world beyond the stage and rehearsal room, Public Programs events bridge ideas, provoke dialogue, and deepen the relationship between our audiences and our productions.

After every performance of SAMSARA (unless otherwise noted)
Join us for one of our intimate post show conversations. Led by members from the Victory Gardens community—artistic affiliates, subscribers, Artistic staff, Teen Arts Council members, and community partners— reflect on what you’ve seen and share your response.

Town Hall | Sun Feb 8th, 2015
For American couples seeking a surrogate, the process is tricky – to say the least. Due to federal regulations and costs upwards of $100,000, American couples are seeking alternatives from developing countries across the globe. With surrogate mothers needing financial stability, this lower-cost agreement is a way to keep both parties happy. But at whose expense? Join us for this timely town hall conversation addressing globalization and the surrogacy trend.

Wednesday Night Out | Wed Feb 11th, 2015
6:30pm cocktail get together at Victory Gardens | Special Afterwords following performance
With same-sex marriage legalized in almost three-fourths of the country, the definition of a “normal” American home is fast-changing. But when homophobia and discrimination enable adoption and surrogacy restrictions, how do same-sex couples combat adversity? Join us for a pre-show reception at Victory Gardens, then stick around for this special Afterwords discussion giving voice to the challenges and triumphs of “the new normal.”

Encuentros | Thurs Feb 12th, 2015
6:30pm cocktail hour at Victory Gardens | Special Afterwords following performance
Statistically, women of color face greater obstacles protecting reproductive rights, are less likely to seek fertility treatment, and are most often pressured into becoming surrogates themselves. How might stereotypes of class, race, and gender contribute to these rising trends? Hosted by Amor Montes de Oca, join us for a pre-show reception at Victory Gardens then stick around for this special Afterwords discussion exploring the complexities surrounding stereotypes, surrogacy and women of color.

Staged Reading | Mon Feb 16th, 2015 | 7:30 PM
Can’t get enough Lauren Yee? Join Victory Gardens in association with Dog & Pony Theatre Co. for a staged reading of Lauren Yee’s play, The Hatmaker’s Wife. This imaginative new play tells the story of a young woman who moves in with her boyfriend expecting domestic bliss, but instead has trouble getting comfortable. This sweet and surreal story bends time and space to redefine the idea of family, home, and true love itself.

February 17th, 2015 | Timeline Theater Company
Continue the journey into Lauren Yee’s fantastical worlds by joining Timeline Theatre Company for a reading of The Tiger Among Us. For Lia and her ghetto wannabe brother Pao, being the only Hmong kids in town is tough; it’s even tougher when that town happens to be in outstate Minnesota. And when a stranger’s arrival in the midst of hunting season threatens their tenuous existence, Lia finds herself caught between her family and her dreams in this modern-day midwestern folktale about a Hmong American family and the tenuous bonds that tie us together.

Pre Show Spoken Word Performance Series | Wed Feb 18th, Fri Feb 27th & Tues March 3rd | 7:00pm
Every family has a story. Whether we come from immigrants or adoption, a second marriage or a single-parent home, our identities are shaped by the hands that make us. Hear Chicago’s most dynamic slam poets riff on families near and far, nuclear and nontraditional, in this pre-show spoken word series.

Special Afterwords | Wed Feb 18th, 2015
A new play in process is very much like the Hindu definition of Samsara: an endless series of births, deaths, and rebirths. With its first appearance at Victory Gardens at the Ignition Festival of New Plays in 2012, Samsara has evolved tremendously since its inception. Moderated by Isaac Gomez (Literary Manager, Samsara dramaturg), join Lauren Yee (playwright), Seth Bockley (director), and members of the cast as they discuss the themes and ideas in Samsara and the circuitous process of bringing this imaginative world premiere to life.

Special Afterwords | Fri Feb 20th, 2015
Surrogacy clinics in India are on the rise, and the challenges of international surrogacy are more apparent than ever. Inconsistent regulations, potential dangers for Indian surrogates, and cultural divisions all pose challenges to both the characters in Samsara and real-life parents-to-be. As more Americans look to India as a cheaper option for alternative reproduction, are both parties really benefitting from this arrangement? Join us for this crucial Afterwords discussion on old views and new ways.

Pre-show Performance | Special Afterwords | Thurs Feb 26th, 2015
The years during and following college are a turbulent time of first apartments, moving boxes, and friends that become family. In the wake of transition, what does it mean to form a new family? What does it mean to leave family behind? Hear young local artists respond in a pre-show performance, then stick around for a special Afterwords conversation investigating the true nature of family at a time of rebirth – at a time of Samsara.

Special Afterwords | Sat Feb 28th, 2015
In the 21st century, the definition of family is constantly changing. From interracial to same-sex couples, from adoption to In Vitro Fertilization, how do we create a family? Join us for this special Afterwords discussion exploring all areas of collaborative reproduction, the modern American family, and the many ways families are created.

Special Afterwords | Tue March 3rd, 2015
Western pop culture is filled with riffs on South Asian stereotypes. But the voices of South Asian leaders in the arts and humanities are among the most under represented in the American cultural and artistic landscape. Some artists turn to culturally-specific institutions to make their voices heard – but how can we further increase visibility and sustainability for South Asian stories? Join a panel of Chicago’s top South Asian artists and community leaders as they navigate cultural bias and fight to be heard in this crucial post-show discussion.

Special Afterwords | Wed March 4th, 2015
Studies show that having children increases stability within a marriage… but at the expense of a couple’s happiness. Between maintaining childcare, providing education, and managing finances, many couples find themselves at a crossroads where they must choose between their own needs and the needs of their child. With all the pressures and complexities that come with having children, is starting a family an obligation? A dream? A solution to a conflict? Join families and social workers for this special Afterwords discussion exploring the realities of wedded bliss.

lauren-yee Lauren Yee’s (Playwright) plays include Ching Chong Chinaman (Pan Asian, Mu Performing Arts, SIS Productions, Impact Theatre), Crevice (Impact Theatre), The Hatmaker’s Wife (Playwrights Realm, The Hub, Moxie Theatre, AlterTheater, PlayPenn), Hookman (Company One workshop), in a word (Hangar and Williamstown workshops), King of the Yees (Goodman Theatre commission), Samsara (O’Neill Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Victory Gardens’ IGNITION Festival), and The Tiger Among Us (MAP Fund, Mu Performing Arts). Upcoming productions: San Francisco Playhouse, the Cleveland Public Theatre, Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company, The Chance Theatre, and Encore Theatre. Her work has been developed at Lincoln Center/LCT3, the Goodman Theatre, The Public Theatre, Second Stage, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Center Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Kitchen Dog, the Magic Theatre, and others. Former Dramatists Guild fellow, MacDowell Colony fellow, Public Theater Emerging Writers Group member, Women’s Project Lab playwright, Second Stage Shank playwright-in-residence, and Playwrights Realm Page One resident playwright. Her play Samsara has been a nominee for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award. Her play The Hatmaker’s Wife was an Outer Critics Circle nominee for the John Gassner Award for best play by a new American playwright. She is currently a member of the Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab and a Playwrights’ Center Core Writer. Lauren is under commission from the Goodman Theatre, Lincoln Center/LCT3, Mixed Blood, Encore Theatre, and TheatreworksUSA. BA: Yale. MFA: UCSD.
seth-bockley Seth Bockley (Director) Directing credits include Basetrack Live with En Garde Arts; The Foundry Theatre’s The Box: A Black Comedy by Marcus Gardley; Ewald Palmetshofer’s hamlet is dead. no gravity; Philip Dawkins’ Failure: A Love Story with Victory Gardens;The Ugly One by Marius von Mayenburg; Jason Grote’s Civilization (all you can eat); Jon and Jason Grote’s 1001; numerous events and spectacles with Chicago’s Redmoon; and the clown play Guerra, developed with Devon de Mayo and Mexico City-based troupe La Piara. As a playwright his works include 2666, adapted with Robert Falls from the novel by Roberto Bolaño; February House, a collaboration with lyricist and composer Gabriel Kahane, which premiered at The Public Theater in the spring of 2012; The Elephant & The Whale (with Redmoon and Chicago Children’s Theatre); adaptations of George Saunders’ short stories CommComm and Jon, which won the 2008 Equity Jeff Citation for Best New Adaptation. He teaches at the University of Chicago and is Playwright in Residence at the Goodman Theatre.
Lori-Meyers Lori Myers (Katie) is happy to be back at Victory Gardens and working with Seth Bockley and his wonderful team. She was last seen breaking furniture as Ali in Amanda Peet’s The Commons of Pensacola at Northlight Theatre and as Maggie in Griffin Theatre’s critically acclaimed Men Should Weep—both directed by the luminous Robin Witt. Favorite roles include Theresa in Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation, directed by Dexter Bullard at the Victory Gardens Theater; Julia Gibbs in David Cromer’s Obie & Lucille Lortel Award-winning Our Town in a record-breaking run in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles; Mother Courage in Vitalist’s Mother Courage and Her Children, directed by Liz Carlin Metz; and Paula in Mrs. Klein at the George Wood Theatre in London. Mrs. Myers has worked with Steppenwolf, Upright Citizen’s Brigade, The Building Stage, Bailiwick Rep, Theatre Wit, Shattered Globe, Redmoon Theater, Next Theatre, and lots of other vibrant storefront theatres in Chicago and London because she has been around since the first person landed on the moon. For Molly.
Joe-Dempsey Joe Dempsey (Craig) previously worked at Victory Gardens in Boys Room, Half and Half, and Jonathan Wild. More recently he appeared in The Mousetrap at Northlight, Native Son at Court, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Drury Lane Oak Brook for which he received a Jeff nomination. Joe has also worked in Chicago at Goodman, Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Chicago Shakespeare, Remy Bummpo among others and regionally at Milwaukee Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Kansas City Rep, and St. Louis Rep among others. TV credits include Chicago Fire, E.R., Early Edition, and What About Joan? He is a member of the Neo-Futurists and has written and performed in their signature show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. Big thanks to Seth and Lauren.
Arya-Daire Arya Daire (Suraiya) is thrilled to be back at Victory Gardens. TV credits include A Christmas Carol – The Concert and Chicago Fire. Chicago theater credits include Principal Principle, Sex, Lies and… Theatrical, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, Much Ado About Nothing, Disconnect and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. After Samsara she will appear in TimeLine Theatre’s Inana. Arya attended Northwestern University and the University of Zurich. Thanks to Chay, Seth, Lauren, cast & crew, Stewart Talent, Paonessa Talent, Kate McGregor Stewart and to her loving family & friends for their unwavering support.
Bezad-Dabu Behzad Dabu (Amit) is thrilled to return to Victory Gardens, after last season’s Disconnect. He grew up in Syracuse, NY, made Chicago his home in 2005 and has since been performing on various stages all over town; most recently, in Blood and Gifts at TimeLine Theatre, where he is an artistic associate and also performed in The History Boys. Other recent credits include, Disgraced at American Theater Company, First Folio’s Twelfth Night, The Goodman’s Christmas Carol, Holes at AdventureStage, and We Live Here at TheatreSeven. In addition to stage work, he can be seen and heard in various commercial and voice-over spots. Behzad attended Columbia College Chicago, and can next be seen in Inana at TimeLine Theatre. He is represented by Paonessa Talent, and wishes to thank this supremely skilled cast and crew and his extraordinarily supportive friends and family.
Jeff-Parker Jeff Parker(Frenchman) returns to Victory Gardens where he has appeared in Before My Eyes by Joel Drake Johnson, View of the Dome by Theresa Rebeck and Bluff by Jeffrey Sweet, all directed by Sandy Shinner. Recent credits include Isaac’s Eye, Days Like Today and Sweet Charity directed by Michael Halberstam (Writers Theatre) 1776 directed by Frank Galati (A.C.T./Asolo Repertory Theatre) and Young Frankenstein (Drury Lane Theatre). Chicago credits include Camino Real, Candide directed by Mary Zimmerman, Turn of the Century directed by Tommy Tune, Bounce directed by Harold Prince, The Beard of Avon, The Visit, Floyd Collins and The House of Martin Guerre (Goodman Theatre); The Brother/Sister Plays directed by Tina Landau (Jeff Award-Best Ensemble) and Venus (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Nine, the musical (Jeff Nomination-Best Actor in a Musical, Porchlight Music Theatre); Cymbeline (directed by Barbara Gaines, As You Like It (directed by Gary Griffin), Timon of Athens, and The Three Musketeers (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); and Indian Ink (Apple Tree Theatre). Off-Broadway and regional credits include Candide (Huntington Theatre), My Fair Lady (Asolo Repertory Theatre) Boy Gets Girl (Manhattan Theatre Club), The American in Me (Magic Theatre), and Winesburg, Ohio (Kansas City Repertory Theatre). Television and film credits include Prison Break (Fox) and Early Edition (CBS) and the Independent Short Voice Lessons.