HAND TO GOD
September 16 – October 30
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By Robert Askins
Directed by Gary Griffin
The God-fearing children of Cypress, Texas spend their after-school hours practicing Christian Puppet Ministry at the local church. When one devout young boy discovers that his hand puppet has a life of its own, all hell breaks loose. Literally. In this sidesplitting and lightning-paced comedy, a satanic sock puppet named Tyrone shows the children, minister, and school bully who’s really in charge. Declared “flat-out hilarious” by The New York Times and described as “Sesame Street meets The Exorcist” by The New Yorker; Hand to God by Robert Askins and directed by Gary Griffin (Never the Sinner, Appropriate) makes its Chicago premiere after thrilling audiences on Broadway last season.
Robert Askins was born in Cypress, Texas. His Tony-nominated, Obie Award-winning play Hand to God recently finished its run on London’s West End (Olivier nominated for Best New Comedy) after it opened on Broadway in April 2015, following two critically-acclaimed runs at Ensemble Studio Theatre and MCC Theater, where it was named a NYTimes Critics’ Pick and called “the most entertaining show of 2014.” His newest play Permission made its world premiere off-Broadway in spring 2015 at MCC Theater. His play Fish Display was part of the 2012 Ojai Playwrights Conference and Permission was part of the 2014 conference. Rob has received two EST/Sloan grants, the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwrights Award, and an Arch and Bruce Davis Award for Playwriting. Rob is an I-73 and Youngblood alum and a graduate of Baylor University. He’s currently at work on two feature film projects and an original comedy series for HBO.
Victory Gardens Theater: Never the Sinner, Appropriate. London: Pacific Overtures (Donmar Warehouse, Olivier Award, Best Musical Production and Olivier Nominee, Best Director). Broadway: Honeymoon in Vegas, The Color Purple. Off-Broadway: Saved (Playwrights Horizons); The Apple Tree, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Pardon My English, The New Moon (Encores), Regional: Antony and Cleopatra, Camelot, West Side Story (Stratford Festival); work at McCarter, Alliance, Hartford Stage, Signature, Kansas City Rep., The Muny. Chicago: Road Show, Gypsy, Sunday in the Park With George, Follies, Amadeus, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); The Merry Widow, The Mikado, Oklahoma (Lyric Opera of Chicago); The Detective’s Wife, Loot (Writers Theatre). Associate Artistic Director, Chicago Shakespeare Theater. 10 Joseph Jefferson Awards for Directing.
Chicago: Mosque Alert (Silk Road Rising); Circle of Friends, The Holiday Celebration, The Revue (American Girl Theatre). Film: The Hypnotist, Chip V2, Cool Apocalypse, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party. School at Steppenwolf Graduate 2016.
Chicago: A Splintered Soul (ARLA Productions); How the World Began (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble); Brilliant Adventures (Steep Theatre Company); Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) (Jackalope Theatre Company); Tribes, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (Steppenwolf); Men Should Weep (Griffin Theatre Company); Ghost Bike (Buzz22 Chicago); Shakespeare’s R&J (Idle Muse Theatre Company); Good Boys and True (Kokandy Productions). Regional: Other Desert Cities (Farmer’s Alley Theatre), Richard III, Twelfth Night (Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre); two national tours of Letters Home (Griffin Theatre Company). Film: The Falls: Covenant of Grace, Teacher.
Chicago: Kill Floor (American Theatre Company); Dairy of Anne Frank (Writers Theatre); Feathers & Teeth, Smokefall (GoodmanTheatre); Rasheeda Speaking (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble/Ensemble Member). Off & Off-Off Broadway: Juvenal Players (The Kitchen); The Dudley’s: A Family Game! (Theatre for a New City); Our Greatest Year (Kraine & The Brick); Original Cast Gloryana (The Public Theater & The York Theatre Co.). Regional: Fornicated From The Beatles (American Repertory Theatre); Experiment America (ICA Boston); Hunchback (DIA Detroit); Permanent Collection (Madison Rep.); Our Greatest Year (Dobama Theatre). Film/ TV: Coming to You, Chicago Fire.
Victory Gardens Theater: No One As Nasty, Henry Flamethrowa, IGNITION Festival. Chicago: The Crowd You’re In With (Goodman Theatre); Spare Change (Steppenwolf); Always Patsy Cline (Theatre at the Center); The Trip to Bountiful, Flung (American Theatre Company); The Cherry Orchard (Strawdog Theatre); Suddenly Last Summer, The Sweetest Swing In Baseball, Rumors, Big Time (Eclipse Theatre); Only The Sound (Chicago Dramatists); Five Women Wearing The Same Dress, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Auschwitz Lullaby, A Piece Of My Heart (Circle Theatre). Film/TV: Stage Four, Gardening at Night, The Widower, E/R, Early Edition, The Beast, Boss, Chicago Fire. Awards: Jeff, After Dark.
Victory Gardens Theater: Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, IGNITION Festival. Chicago: The History Boys (Jeff Award), The Normal Heart, My Name Is Asher Lev (TimeLine, Associate Artist); Tug Of War: Foreign Fire, Short Shakes: Midsummer!, Julius Caesar, The Madness of George III (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Mary, A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre); The Good Book (Court Theatre); October Sky, upcoming The Nutcracker (Marriott Lincolnshire); Peter Pan (Lookingglass Theatre); You Never Can Tell (Remy Bumppo); Ah! Wilderness (Jeff Nomination, Eclipse); The Rainmaker (Jeff Nomination), Rough Crossing (First Folio); Bent (TOTC) as well as Chicago Children’s Theatre, House Theatre, Provision Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre. Film/TV: Black Box, Scrooge & Marley, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, Empire. Stakeholder with The BackRoom Shakespeare Project.
The Creative Team:
Joe Schermoly, Scenic Design
Janice Pytel, Costume Design
Christine Binder, Lighting Design
Chris Kriz, Original Music and Sound Design
Michael Dold, Properties Design
Daniel Dempsey, Puppet Director
Rachel Christianson, Puppet Designer
Isaac Gomez, Dramaturgy
Tina Jach, Stage Manager
Public Programs is an event series designed to enhance your experience by exploring themes and issues in Victory Gardens’ plays. 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.
After every performance of HAND TO GOD (unless otherwise noted)
September 8 | Thursday | 6:30 p.m.
Open Rehearsal Event
September 16 | Friday | 7:00 p.m.
Pre-Show Puppet Making Workshop
September 29 | Thursday | 6:30 p.m.
Pre-Show Celebration & Post-Show Conversation
October 2 | Sunday | 5:00 p.m.
October 6 | Thursday | 6:30 p.m.
Pre-Show Celebration & Post-Show Puppet Demonstration
October 7 | Friday | 9:00 p.m.
October 8 | Saturday | 9:00 p.m.
October 14 | Friday | 6:30 p.m.
Pre-Show Celebration & Free Post-Show Performance
“Packs a more formidable emotional wallop than the more heightened 2015 production on Broadway…The not-so-secret weapon at the Biograph is Alex Weisman. I was blown away. This, for sure, is one of the great individual performances of the season.”
“Gleefully demonic puppetry makes ‘Hand to God’ irresistible…a true touch of maniacal genius at work”
-The Chicago Sun Times
-Time Out Chicago
“A devilish delight. This is the funniest comedy you are likely to see this season.”
“Everyone was having too much fun roaring in laughter when they weren’t gasping in shock.”
-Chicagoland Theater Reviews”
Everybody’s Talking About HAND TO GOD
CHICAGO TRIBUNE’s ‘Top-10 Early Votes for Theater this Fall
READER’s ‘Ten Best Bets for Fall Theater’
Hand to God named as one of the shows Chicago Theater Artists are most excited about
SUN TIMES Fall Arts Preview
SPLASH‘s ‘What to See In September’
TIME OUT‘s ’16 Chicago Theater Shows to See in September’
CHICAGO MAGAZINE features Alex Weisman in ‘A Trio of Star Turns’
Hand to God is number one on American Theatre‘s list of ‘The Top 10* Most-Produced Plays of the 2016-17 Season’
Hand to God is included in Crain‘s ‘Top 10 Things to Do this Weekend’
HAND TO GOD
Nina Ganet and Alex Weisman
Nina Ganet and Alex Weisman
Eric Slater and Alex Weisman
Nina Ganet, Alex Weisman, Janelle Snow, and Curtis-Edward-Jackson
Janelle Snow and Eric Slater
Janelle Snow and Curtis Edward Jackson
Alex Weisman, Curtis Edward Jackson, and Nina Ganet
HAND TO GOD First Rehearsal
“I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time! GO SEE THIS PLAY!”
-Rebecca Braithwaite, Facebook
“I’m speechless…Go see this show. Everyone. Now.”
“Gives Broadway a run for it’s $$. Excellent production!”
“#handtogodchicago got me feeling suspicious of my entire sock drawer”
“I was clapping and I laughed so hard it sounded like I was barking. Like a seal.”
“A hilarious way to spend a Friday night!!”
“You cannot miss this, Chicago. You will regret it. There is comedy magic happening at Victory Gardens.”
-Ben Kaye, Facebook
“Probably the greatest thing I’ve ever seen“
-Lix Rich, Facebook
“Run, don’t walk, to see the show!”
“#HandtoGod just blew me away. The cast was even better than in NY. Go see it, Chicago.“
“Now THAT’s #greattheater”
“#HandToGod is sacridelicious! Tremendously funny.”
“Hand to God is some supreme acting y’all!!”
“One of the best shows we’ve seen!”
-Betsey Manzoni, Facebook
“Alex Weisman’s Jason/Tyrone in “Hand to God” is clearly the top Chicago theater performance of 2016 so far. Brilliant.”
“What a crazy, irreverent, wild ride of a show.”
“You guys… anyone in Chicago… go see this hilarious play, starring Alex Weisman. He. Is. incredible! Congrats to the entire cast!”
-Torrey DeVitto, Facebook