World Premiere

The Gospel of Lovingkindness

Feb 28 – March 30, 2014
By Marcus Gardley | Directed by Chay Yew | Zacek McVay Theater

“★★★★ Often blisteringly funny” -TimeOut Chicago

“★★★ Stacked with veteran Chicago actors” -Chicago Tribune

One mother sees her son struggle to find his place in the world, and another sees her son live his dream. When these proud women meet, everything–their lives, their families, their city–is sent over the edge. As fervent and poetic as a gospel hymn, this drama about faith, family, and loss was inspired by true events.


“★★★★ Often blisteringly funny” -Kris Vire, TimeOut Chicago

“★★★ Stacked with veteran Chicago actors.” -Chris Jones, Tribune

“It’s hands down HILARIOUS.” -Anupy S. G., Facebook>

“Brought to life by a cast of highly skilled actors” -Weiss, Sun Times

“Gentle and uplifting” -Katy W. Facebook

“Gardley’s writing is vivid, his humor organic.” -Barbara Vitello, Daily Herald

“The cast…is truly outstanding.” -New City Stage

“Authentic voice, which balances humor with tragedy” -Peter Ricci, Chicago Theatre Review

“Funny, powerful & thought-provoking.” -Evan S., Facebook

“Intense dialogue leavened with bursts of sharp humor.” -Dan Zeff, Chicagoland Theater Reviews

“You need to see The Gospel of Lovingkindness.” -Monty C., Facebook

Read an interview with Playwright Marcus Gardley in Chicago Magazine.
See the feature on Playwright Marcus Gardley in American Theater Magazine.


After every performance of The Gospel of Lovingkindness (unless otherwise noted)

Join us for one of our intimate post show conversations. Lead by members from all around the Victory Gardens community–subscribers, Artistic staff, Teen Arts Council members, and community partners–after the show we sit together, reflect on what we’ve seen and share our response.


Sun March 2, 2014 | 1:30pm

Join host E. Faye Butler and Victory Gardens Ensemble Playwright Marcus Gardley for this intimate preshow conversation about Gardley’s work.

Baked Goods donated by The Bakery At Summer House.


Wed March 5, 2014 | 6:30pm cocktail hour | Special Afterwords

Join our friends from The Center on Halsted for preshow cocktails at Fiesta Mexicana and a special Afterwords discussion addressing Chicago violence in conversation with the LGBT community.

Catering donated by Fiesta Mexicana.


Sat March 8, 2014 | 6:30pm cocktail hour | Special Afterwords

The Tuxedo Junction is back and better than ever! This time we brought some friends.

What happens when you mix the sounds of spoken word, singing and Chicago’s youth? A cacophony of passionate and unique voice. Join the Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit’s Teen Tofu Ensemble as they respond to the themes of The Gospel of Lovingkindness during a pre-show reception and performance. Later join Tuxedo Junction host, Sydney Chatman to discuss gun violence and community-based solutions on Chicago’s South Side in this special Afterwords.


Sun March 9, 2014 | 1:30pm | Special Musical Performance

Charting the history of American music from the Negro Spiritual forward, Soprano Brenda Marie Turner takes us on a stirring cultural journey through music…all over Sunday brunch.


Mon March 10, 2012 | 7:00pm

Join Phyllis Duncan, founder and exec director of Mothers of Murdered Sons (MoMS), Dr. Noni Gaylord-Harden (Loyola University), a representative from the Cook County Sheriff’s office, and others from around the Chicago Community for this important conversation.

In The Gospel of Lovingkindness Mary’s world is turned upside down after the murder of her son, Emmanuel. After the loss and trauma caused by gun violence, how can we recover and move forward with our lives? How does a mother, brother, sister and community cope and turn that pain into action? This is the situation that plays out all too often here in Chicago. What is unique about gun violence in our city? What challenges do lawmakers, community and cultural leaders and everyday citizens face as they confront this issue on a daily basis? What resources do they have and which ones do they lack? Led by a group of experts, in this town hall Phyllis Duncan (Founder and Executive Director of Mothers of Murdered Sons) will share her own story of strength and hope in the face of unspeakable loss. Together we will ask the question of what’s going on in our city and work to uncover a way forward and to move from dialogue to action.


Thurs March 13, 2014 | 6:30pm cocktail hour | Special Afterwords

Jeff Abbey Maldonado, Sr. is a Pilsen-based artist and the Founder and Creative Director for the J-Def Peace Project. Maldonado Sr. started the organization with his wife, Elizabeth, to honor their son, Jeff, Jr. who was gunned down in Pilsen in the summer of 2009. Join Encuentros host, Amor Montes de Oca and Maldonado, Sr. for a special preshow reception at Fiesta Mexicana featuring his art work. Later, join the pair for a special Afterwords discussion featuring an excerpt from the film, 19 and a Day, about the tragic loss of Jeff, Jr.

Catering donated by Fiesta Mexicana.


Sun March 16, 2014 | 1:30pm

Join us for this second in a series of conversations exploring voices of color in theatre. Playwrights Nambi E. Kelley, Lydia Diamond, Gloria Bond Clunie and Dawn Renee Jones explore the place of the Black female voice in contemporary drama; moderated by Soyini Madison of Northwestern University.


Fri March 21, 2014 | Special Afterwords

Our city builds neighborhoods meant to offer affordable housing to all of its residents. But often these neighborhoods become centers for crime, and their demolition can tear communities apart. Does urban planning in Chicago ease economic tension or contribute to our violence epidemic? How can Chicago citizens influence housing policy? Join Natalie Moore (reporter, WBEZ) and her guests, Amanda Williams (Chicago-based artist/architect) and Emmanuel Pratt (Executive Director of Sweet Water Foundation) as they explore the relationship between urban planning and crime in Chicago.


Mon March 24, 2014 | 7:00pm Showtime | Afterwords

A special screening of the documentary produced and directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson. Spanning 13 years, American Promise, follows Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, N.Y., as the pair turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation at Manhattan’s Dalton School, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity. An Official Selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Public Programs RSVP

The Artists of Gospel of Lovingkindness

Director – Chay Yew Music Director – Jaret Landon Set Designer – Kevin Depinet Lighting Designer – Lee Fiskness Costume Designer – Samantha Jones Sound Designer – Mikhail Fiksel Prop Master – Jesse Gaffney

Cheryl Lynn Bruce (Mary)

returns to Victory Gardens Theater where she previously appeared in The Snow Queen, The Voice of Good Hope, and Eurydice. Cheryl was recently nominated for a Jeff Award for Head of Passes at Steppenwolf Theatre.

Tosin Morohunfola (Noel/Emmanuel/Others)

You might recognize Tosin from his recent stint at the Goodman Theatre in Pullman Porter Blues. He is also the founder of the Multicultural Theatre Initiative where he served as Artistic Director for two years.

Ernest Perry, Jr. (Joe/Coach/Others)

Ernest is coming out of retirement for The Gospel of Lovingkindness. He was a regular on the Goodman stage and appeared in Death and the King’s Horsemen, An Enemy of the People, PlayMas, and The Christmas Carol.

Jacqueline Williams (Marth/Isis/Others)

Returning after an absence from Victory Gardens Theater but our most loyal patrons will remember Jacqueline from Waiting to Be Invited, The Colored Museum, and Shoes. You may have seen her recently in Head of Passes at Steppenwolf.

  Director – Chay Yew
Music Director – Jaret Landon
Set Designer – Kevin Depinet
Costume Designer – Samantha Jones
Lighting Designer – Lee Fiskness
Sound Designer – Mikhail Fiksel
Prop Master – Jesse Gaffney

On Violence

Meet the Cast

Meet Playwright Marcus Gardley

The Trailer

Marcus Gardley on Poetic Style

Scene From The Gospel of Lovingkindness

Production Photos


First Rehearsal Photos


All Rehearsal Photos


Download our study guide for The Gospel of Lovingkindness