World Premiere


Extended by Popular Demand!
Now – March 19

by Ensemble Playwright Marcus Gardley
directed by Artistic Director Chay Yew

Longtime hair salon owners, Bell and Birdie, grapple with the decision to remain in their beloved South side neighborhood or relocate under the pressures of gentrification and crime. Told through music, poetry, and dance A Wonder in My Soul looks at one neighborhood’s evolution through the eyes of two best friends and their lifetime of friendship. From the artistic team that brought you The House That Will Not Stand, The Gospel of Lovingkindness, and An Issue of Blood, director Chay Yew and playwright Marcus Gardley now explore Chicago history, beauty, and friendship.


(out of four)

“So beautifully,
so richly written
A comedic heart that beats
powerfully and poignantly.

A warm tribute to
South Side beauty shops.

-Chicago Tribune

The Ladies of A Wonder in my Soul
The Ladies of A WONDER IN MY SOUL. Left to right: Camille Robinson, Donica Lynn, Jacqueline Williams, Greta Oglesby, and Linda Bright Clay.


Marcus Gardley is a poet-playwright who is the current recipient of the 2015 Glickman Award. He was the 2013 James Baldwin Fellow and the 2011 PEN Laura Pels award winner for Mid-Career Playwright. The New Yorker describes Gardley as “the heir to Garcia Lorca, Pirandello and Tennessee Williams.” His play The House That Will Not Stand was commissioned and produced by Berkeley Rep and has had subsequent productions at Yale Rep and the Tricycle Theater in London. He is an ensemble playwright at Victory Gardens Theater where his play The Gospel of Lovingkindness was produced in March and where he won the 2015 BTAA award for best play. In 2014, his saga the road weeps, the well runs dry about the migration of Black Seminoles (a tribe of African American and First Nations People) from Florida to Oklahoma had a national tour. He has had several productions, some of which include: Every Tongue Confesses at Arena Stage starring Phylicia Rashad, and On The Levee which premiered in 2010 at Lincoln Center Theater 3. He is the recipient of the 2011 Aetna New Voice Fellowship at Hartford Stage, the Hellen Merrill Award, a Kellsering Honor and the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award. He holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Yale Drama School and is a member of The Dramatists Guild. Gardley is a professor of Theater and Performance Studies at Brown University.

Chay Yew is the Artistic Director at Victory Gardens Theater. Victory Gardens Theater: Roz and Ray, The House That Will Not Stand, Hillary and Clinton, Death and the Maiden, An Issue of Blood, The Gospel of Lovingkindness, Mojada, Oedipus el Rey, Universes’ Ameriville. Chicago: Dartmoor Prison, Black N Blue Boys/Broken Men (Goodman Theatre); Where Did We Sit On The Bus? (Teatro Vista/Victory Gardens, Boise Contemporary Theatre); Po Boy Tango (Northlight Theatre). Productions at The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, The Playwrights Realm, New York Theatre Workshop, National AsianAmerican Theatre Company, Ma-Yi Theatre Company. Regional: Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The Kennedy Center; Mark Taper Forum, American Conservatory Theater, Huntington Theatre Company, Long Wharf Theatre, Denver Center Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Empty Space Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Cornerstone Theatre Company, Singapore Repertory Theatre, Boston Court, East West Players amongst others. His opera credits include world premieres of Osvaldo Golijov and David Henry Hwang’s Ainadamar (co-production with the Tanglewood Music Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic); and Rob Zuidam’s Rage of d’Amours (Tanglewood Music Center). Chay is a recipient of the Obie Award and DramaLogue Award for Direction. He was the founding director of the Taper’s Asian Theatre Workshop and producer of Taper, Too. Chay is also an alumnus of New Dramatists and serves on the Executive Board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events’ Cultural Advisory Council.

Linda Bright Clay, native Chicagoan, member of Actors’ Equity and SAG-AFTRA, has been a professional actor for over 30 years. Her theatre credits include The House That Will Not Stand, Victory Gardens; the BTAA and Jeff Award winning production of The Project(S) at the American Theatre Co, soon reprising her roles in The Project(S) with American Theatre Co.’s American Mosaic education program; For Mybrothers…(Writers Theatre Commissioned work); Having Our Say and Permanent Collection at Madison Rep; Home (BTAA Best Actress Award), Having Our Say, Top Hat all at Chicago Theatre Co; Joe Turner’s Come And Gone at the Goodman, Dame Lorraine at Victory Gardens; The Gold Shop, Crossing Against the Red Light at Chicago Cultural Center’s “People’s Choice Award,” Ain’t Supposed To Die A Natural Death, Checkmates at eta. She has done many TV and radio commercials and can currently be seen in Colonial Penn and Northwestern Medicine spots. She has also appeared in other commercials such as, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Fifth Third Bank, U.S. Post Office, and Ace Hardware. Linda’s film and TV work includes “Halfway,” garnering critical acclaim in festivals and “Seven Psychopaths.” Her short films include, ”Flickering Blue,” “Just Married” and “The Night Before The Morning After”.

Jeffery Owen Freelon Jr. is a native of South Side Chicago and son to Sheila Wilson/Freelon and late Father Jeffery Owen Freelon Sr. He has his mother to owe for his interest in the arts simply because she fervently assured his success in his 4th grade debut as Walter Lee Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, as his “acting coach.” From there Jeffery has constantly been on the rise from his graduation from The University of Michigan, appearing on “Chicago PD,” to winning the “Denzel Washington” award from the BTAA for his role as Karl Berry in Byhalia Mississippi. He is also a proud team member of Paonessa Talent Agency.

Donica Lynn was named Chicago Tribune’s 2016 Chicagoan of the Year in Theatre. Victory Gardens: Confessions of a P.I.M.P. with Tony nominee Andre de Shields. Drury Lane Oakbrook: Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Aida, Hairspray, Thoroughly Modern Millie. Porchlight Muisc Theatre: Dreamgirls (Winner Jeff Award, Time Out Chicago & BTAA Best Actress in a musical) Porchlight Sings: Disney, Motown, Beatles. Off The Porch: Gatecrashers. Mercury Theater: The Color Purple, Barnum. Court Theatre: Caroline or Change. Goodman: Lady In Denmark. Timeline: Fiorello, Step Into Time. Marriott Lincolnshire: Once On This Island, Suessical. About Face Theatre: When Last We Flew. Congo Square Theater Company: Black Nativity, Sanctified. Eta Creative Arts: Runaway Home, Good Black, This Far By Faith. Chicago Opera Theatre: Queenie Pie. Regional: Hair (Michigan), Hair, Broadway Holidays (Paramount Aurora) TV: “Chicago Fire”. Radio: Sears “Craftsman Tools Radio Spot” Brain tumor/cancer survivor. Proud member of AGMA & AEA. represented by Stewart Talent.

Greta Oglesby made a big splash in the theater community when she played the lead in Tony Kushner’s Caroline or Change at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Her performance was variously described as “ravishing,” “indelible,” “powerful,” “magnificent,” “heartbreaking, “brilliant,” and “the best performance on a Twin Cities stage this year.” Oglesby won the Ivey award for that performance. Greta’s resume includes 5 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Crowns, Burial at Thebes, Sunshine Boys, and Appomattox at the Guthrie, Gem of the Ocean and Amen Corner at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, and several plum roles at Penumbra Theatre, including Piano Lesson, Ballad of Emit Till, and Black Nativity. Greta has recently published a book entitled “Mama N Nem…Handprints On My Life” (Kirkhouse).

Theatre: It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! (American Blues Theater), Wonderful Town (Goodman Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors (American Blues Theater), Stick Fly (Windy City Playhouse), For Her as a Piano (Pegasus Theatre Chicago) and Murder Ballad (Bailiwick Chicago). TV/Film: “Chicago Med” and “Chicago PD” (NBC).

Victory Gardens Theater: The House That Will Not Stand (Jeff Award Recepient), The Gospel Of Lovingkindness, Waiting To Be Invited, Colored Museum, Shoes. Chicago: Gem of the Ocean, The Good Book, Electra (title role), Caroline or Change, Fences, Man In The Ring (Court Theatre); Stop. Reset, Pullman Porter Blues, Camino Real, Trinity River Plays, Blues For An Alabama Sky, Amen Corner (Goodman Theatre); The Christians, Airline Highway, Head of Passes, Hot L Baltimore, Brother Sister Plays, No Place Like Home (Steppenwolf); Gee’s Bend, The Miser (Northlight Theatre); Yellowman, Fabulation (Next); Maya’s Last Poem (as Maya Angelou), Going to St. Ives, Having Our Say (Fleetwood-Jourdain). National tours: Crowns, Born In the RSA (Market Theatre of Johannesburg). Broadway: Young Man From Atlanta. Off-Broadway: From The Mississippi Delta (co-produced by Oprah Winfrey), Mill Fire, Talented Tenth. Regional: La Jolla, ACT Seattle, Berkeley Rep, Arena Stage, Hartford Stage, Huntington Playhouse, Asolo Rep, Portland Stage Co. Film/TV: Heartlock, The Break Up, The Lake House, Hardball, “Turks,” “Chicago PD,” “Chicago Fire,” “Empire,” “Chicago Code,” “Prison Break.” Awards/Nominations: Jeff, Helen Hayes, BTAA, Lunt-Fontanne (Shakespeare) Fellow, 3Arts, American Arts Council, Drama Desk, Sarah Siddons, Excellence in the Arts, After Dark, others.

The Production Team:

Set Design

Costume Design

Lighting Design

Sound Design

Properties Design

Original Music

Projection Design

Hair/Wig Design


Assistant to the Director and Movement Consultant

Production Stage Manager

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

Public Programs are free and open to the public and do not require an RSVP. Come to one or come to all. We’d love to have you!

Public Programs:

afterwordsAfter every performance of A WONDER IN MY SOUL (unless otherwise noted) marcusPost-Show Conversation
February 11, 2017 | Following the evening performance of A WONDER IN MY SOUL
ain't-I-a-woman-3Post-Show Performance
February 12, 2017 | Following the matinee performance of A WONDER IN MY SOUL
divine-ninePre-Show Celebration
February 15, 2017 | 6:30 p.m. in the Victory Gardens lobby
blackgirlmagicPre-Show Celebration & Healing
February 16, 2017 | 6:30 p.m. in the Victory Gardens lobby
heart-of-black-americaPre-Show Celebration & Post-Show Conversation
February 23, 2017
Reception begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Victory Gardens lobby
Post-Show conversation to follow the evening performance of A WONDER IN MY SOUL
black-is-beautifulLobby Festival featuring Black beauty & wellness products
February 25, 2017 | 12:00 – 7:30 p.m. in the Victory Gardens lobby
February 26, 2017 | 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. in the Victory Gardens lobby
college-nightPost-Show Performance
March 2, 2017 | Following the evening performance of A WONDER IN MY SOUL
our-miss-brooksPre-Show Celebration & Post-Show Conversation
March 5, 2017
Reception begins at 2:00 p.m. in the Victory Gardens lobby
Post-Show conversation to follow the evening performance of A WONDER IN MY SOUL
art-of-activismPre-Show Spoken Word
March 10, 2017 | 7:00 p.m. in the Victory Gardens lobby


(out of four)

“So beautifully,
so richly written
A comedic heart that beats
powerfully and poignantly.

A warm tribute to
South Side beauty shops.

-Chicago Tribune

 “Sparkles with wit
and crackles with spirit.

-NewCity Stage

The tightly directed cast makes
beautiful poetry.”



Jacqueline Williams, Linda Bright Clay, and Camille Robinson

Camille Robinson, Greta Oglesby, Donica Lynn, and Jacqueline Williams

Linda Bright Clay, Jacqueline Williams, Donica Lynn, Jeffery Owen Freelon Jr., and Greta Oglesby

Greta Oglesby, Camille Robinson, Jacqueline Williams, Donica Lynn, and Linda Bright Clay

Jacqueline Williams and Greta Oglesby

The ladies of A WONDER IN MY SOUL spend the day hanging out at Sira’s Salon.
Styling by Sal Yvat.

Jacqueline Williams and Camille Robinson

WonderInMySoul-8 (1)Linda Bright Clay and Donica Lynn