IGNITION Festival of New Plays is a national annual festival devoted to fostering a community of support for the development of outstanding new plays and nurturing relationships with emerging and established playwrights.

All readings are free and open to the public. General Admission, but seating will be reserved for Members, Subscribers and Donors of Victory Gardens Theater.


Victory Gardens Literary Manager and IGNITION Festival Director Isaac Gomez and Artistic Programs Managers Monty Cole talk about Ignition Festival of New Plays 2016.

Well, they try to.

Our Ignition Festival of New Plays 2016 playwrights want to invite you to our upcoming festival!



Začek-McVay Theater | 7:30pm
When a mystery writer returns to his childhood home he lives through a night of terror once his young son goes missing. Told through bedtime stories, past transgressions, and truths forgotten, he is forced to confront his essential nature.

The Cast:
Kirsten Fitzgerald
Philip Earl Johnson
Aaron Lamm
Steve Pickering
Mary Ann Thebus



Victory Gardens Lobby | 9:30pm
Stick around for this opening night celebration with a live DJ, delicious appetizers, and complimentary drinks as we raise a glass to kick off our IGNITION Festival of New Plays.


breachZaček-McVay Theater | 3:00pm
What happens when an African American woman with a dead-end job and a fizzling relationship accidentally gets pregnant by a man she is not dating? Breach is a play
about motherhood, race, and how hard it is to love others when it’s you that you loathe most of all.

The Cast:
Japhet Balaban
Linda Bright Clay
Travis Delgado
Cruz Gonzalez
Ericka Ratcliff


Začek-McVay Theater | 5:00pm
As one of the leading theaters in new play development, Victory Gardens is home to some of the richest and boldest new plays premiering across the country. In a city where audiences are hungry for new theatre work, what is the current state of new play development and its future? What are the best practices for new play collaborations? How do we better support and produce new plays and playwrights? Join this timeless conversation on the new play process featuring IGNITION playwrights Greg Kotis, Antoinette Nwandu, Laura Jacqmin, James Ijames, Karen Hartman, and Tegan McLeod.


Začek-McVay Theater | 7:30pm
When the milestone date on their new video game is suddenly moved up – the week before Thanksgiving – a ragtag team of game developers must camp out at the office for seven days straight, crunching to meet an impossible deadline.

The Cast:
Owais Ahmed
Jordan Brodess
Coby Goss
Casey Morris
Kelly O’Sullivan
Alec Silver
Penelope Walker


Victory Gardens Lobby | 9:30pm
Hear from the artists themselves and cool off with boozy ice cream floats at this post-show artist meet & greet.


Začek-McVay Theater | 12:00pm
Set in a netherworld, we follow Isa, Daz, Grif, and Tiny as they try to make sense of the world they have been ripped from. Colliding the Elysium Greek myth with recent events,
Kill Move Paradise is a expressionistic buzz saw through the contemporary myth that “all lives matter”.​

The Cast:
DeAndre Brown
Jerod Haynes
Rasell Holt
John Stewart


Začek-McVay Theater | 3:00pm
A play within a play, a tragedy inside a comedy. A group of faculty and students at a large public university stage a little-known political drama, Goliath. The writer of that political drama is on faculty, directing her own play, desperate to “spark dialogue.” And she does.

The Cast:
Charín Alvarez
McKenzie Chinn
Elaine Rivkin
Benjamin Sprunger
Will Wilhelm


Rehearsal Room | 5:00pm
August Wilson once said, “All art is political in the sense that it serves someone’s politics.” With this year’s IGNITION plays touching on themes such as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, race and gender, and the insular world and morality of video gaming, how do plays exemplify the current political and cultural zeitgeist of our city and country? Can art be activism? Join us for this timely panel conversation with IGNITION playwrights James Ijames, Antoinette Nwandu, Tegan McLeod, and other Chicago-based artists and activists.


Začek-McVay Theater | 7:30pm
When newcomer Dusty is hired as a shot girl at one of the toughest bars in the city, she forms an unexpected bond with the hard-edged women who work there. Just as she begins to settle into her new family, Dusty loses herself in the underbelly of the night. Girls In Cars Underwater is an unflinching exploration of passion and compulsion, and the power of both to ruin or remake our lives.

The Cast:
Sydney Charles
Aneisa Hicks
Leah Karpel
Sarai Rodriguez
Paola Sanchez
Becca Savoy
Brad Smith
Skye Sparks


Victory Gardens Lobby | 9:30pm
Help us close out our IGNITION Festival of New plays with a champagne toast and light refreshments following the final reading of our festival.