The Midwest Premiere


September 18 – October 18, 2015

by Roy Williams
directed by Dexter Bullard

It’s the 1980s, Michael Jackson rules the radio waves and Conan the Barbarian is the box office king at the movies. Aspiring black boxers, Leon and Troy, both have promising futures in the ring. When race riots explode in their London neighborhood, these two friends are forced to make a tough decision. Years later, they square off, facing each other and the men they have become. An electric knockout, the much lauded and award-winning playwright Roy WilliamsSucker Punch takes an unflinching look at family, friends and the world of boxing.

Want to learn more about the world of Sucker Punch? Click here to check out INSIGHT.

Join the conversation on social media using #suckerpunch.


Sucker Punch packs a wallop. It’s like you’re right in the ring. Never dull for a second. Boffo.”
-Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
Click here to read the full review

“Bloody brilliant. A dazzler. Bravo all.”

“Bruising, brilliantly realized. Stunning Cast. Highly Recommended.”
-Hedy Weiss, Sun Times
Click here to read the full review

“Thrillingly staged, gorgeously designed production (Lee Fiskness’s lighting design is absolutely stunning), the remarkably charismatic Demus stands out amid a terrific ensemble that also includes Taylor Blim as his love interest and Walter Briggs as a bigoted white boxer. Embodying Leon in all his complexities and aspirations, not to mention an impressive athleticism, Demus delivers a star-making knockout blow.”
-Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago
Click here to read the full review

“A theatrical banquet. A complete work of art.”
Newcity Stage
Click here to read the full review

Click here to read the full Sun Times article

“Williams’s 90-minute play packs a knockout punch.”
The Guardian

“Williams articulates key aspects of the experience of black British youth in the Eighties in a way that feels fresh and authentic. He handles the issues smartly; the writing is taut, and there are some stinging lines. As a theatrical spectacle, Sucker Punch packs a meaty
Evening Standard

“[Roy Williams] is the undisputed heavyweight champion of black British dramatists. This hard-hitting drama is a theatrical knock-out.”
The Telegraph

The London Times

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.

After every performance of SUCKER PUNCH (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.

See full calendar listing for specific group dates & times
Looking for more than just a night at the theater? Want to connect with others who share similar interests? Come meet & mingle at one of these special affinity nights with post-show discussions hosted by members of the Council of Community Leaders. Free pre-show refreshments, discounted drinks, and great company guaranteed.

An ongoing lobby display during the run of SUCKER PUNCH (unless otherwise noted)
Picture a champion. Who do you see? Some of the most influential sports heroes never quite get the recognition they deserve. Explore this visual photo gallery of under recognized Chicago athletes who have made history in the Victory Gardens Theater lobby.

Pre-Show Spoken Word Performances | Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Racial power dynamics pack a mean punch in Roy Williams’ political sports drama. From the Brixton Riots in the 1980’s to race relations in boxing, many elements still ring true today. How can we move forward in a world still plagued by its past? Join us in the main lobby for pre-show spoken word performances as Chicago poets unpack the powerful politics of race in U.S athletics, verse by verse.

Pre-show Celebration | Special Afterwards | Saturday, October 17, 2015
With Latino boxers Julio Cesar Chavez, Roberto Duran, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad dominating the ring over the last couple of years, demographics of boxers (and their viewers) are rapidly changing. Join Encuentro host Amor Montes de Oca for pre-show refreshments from Fiesta Mexicana, then stick around as we discuss the history of Latinos in boxing as a new wave of immigrants flooded America, bringing their love for the sport – and adulation for their national heroes – with them.

Past Public Program Events:

Special Event | Wednesday, September 9, 2015 | 7:00 p.m.
When professional sports hits professional theater, something electric happens. Get this blow-by-blow account of what it takes to stage a full on boxing match for Roy Williams’ hit boxing drama Sucker Punch at this open rehearsal kick-off party. Then, enjoy a complimentary reception and mingle with the cast and fight choreographers to get the inside scoop on the process.

Pre-Show Celebration | Special Afterwords | Wednesday, September 23, 2015
From Caitlyn Jenner to Greg Louganis, LGBT athletes are coming out more than ever before. How can queerness openly exist in the sports arena? What struggles do they face? Join us for a pre-show celebration of our Chicago LGBTQ communities with refreshments sponsored by Fiesta Mexicana, and stick around for a post-show panel discussion giving voice to “out” athletes.

Special Afterwords | Saturday, September 26, 2015
From race relations under the reign of Margaret Thatcher to amateur boxing between friends, Sucker Punch has a lot to say. Join us for this special Afterwords conversation with London based playwright Roy Williams about the process in creating and developing his knockout boxing drama and the personal influences that inspired it.

Special Afterwords | Wednesday, September 30, 2015
One year ago, the nation watched as the city of Ferguson, Mo. erupted following the shooting of Michael Brown. In the year that followed, protesters came armed with a message that would echo through the nation in more protests for other black Americans who died by police hands: “Black Lives Matter.” A year later, where are we now? What work still lies ahead? Join us for a performance of Roy Williams political drama, then stick around for this crucial conversation as we examine our past and discover new ways of moving forward.

Special Afterwords | Thursday, October 1, 2015
Every week in the National Football League, a player is sidelined by a head injury. In some cases, their symptoms are clearly visible and they exit the game. Other times, less obvious warning signs can mean a missed diagnosis and a return to the field. While there have been major improvements in recent years, safety regulations remain an ongoing battle and have led to memory loss, dementia, and other lifelong impairments. Join us for a special afterwards discussion with stories from local Chicago athletes about the concussion crisis in a world where physical contact sports are one of America’s most celebrated pastimes.

Special Afterwards | Friday, October 2, 2015
With U.S. sports history dominated by able-bodied athletes, where is there space to celebrate the accomplishments of athletes with disabilities? Explore a pre-show booth display and then join Dare2tri Executive Director Keri Sorata for a riveting post-show discussion as she is joined by a few physically disabled athletes able to finish triathlons with the help of organizations like Dare2tri.

Pre-Show Intro to Kickboxing Workshop with Chicago Muay-Thai Kickboxing
Saturday, October 3, 2015 | 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Who says the boxing needs to stay on the stage? Grab your gloves and jump in the ring during this special pre-show boxing workshop with our neighbors across the street, Chicago Muy Thai-Kickboxing!! Release some pent up energy at this intro to boxing workshop, stick around for some healthy snacks, and then kick back and enjoy the evening performance of Sucker Punch. RSVP as spots are limited.

Town Hall | Sunday, October 4, 2015
Whether it is a social media feud, a comment from a sports newscaster, or racial slurs in the locker room, racial tension in sports is a hot button topic. What are the challenges and triumphs in being an athlete of color? Following a performance of Roy Williams’ Sucker Punch, join us for this timely town hall discussion as we break open a conversation on racial bias as it plagues the greater sports community both on and off the field.

Pre-Show Celebration I Thursday, October 8, 2015
Chicago is the proud home to many talented collegiate athletes. Whether you play professionally, recreationally or even on your Wii Fit, we want to celebrate you! Leave your equipment at home and grab your friends for this pre-show celebration featuring delicious discounted drinks & free food sponsored by Pizano’s Pizza. Hit up our college night discount & stick around for the knockout performance.

Pre-show Celebration | Special Afterwards | Tuesday, October 13, 2015
From tennis champion Serena Williams to WNBA star Lisa Leslie, black women are increasingly in the athletic spotlight. Criticized for their race but celebrated for their talents, how are black women empowered by athletics? Come join us in the lobby for a pre-show celebration with refreshments from Fiesta Mexicana, and stick around afterwards for this timely post-show conversation.

Roy Williams photo (2) ROY WILLIAMS (Playwright)
Lift Off, Clubland, Fallout, Sucker Punch (Royal Court, Olivier Award Best play nomination for Sucker Punch); Category B, The Gift, Starstruck (Tricycle Theatre); Days of Significance (Royal Shakespeare Company); Joe Guy (Soho Theatre/Tiata Fahodzi); Absolute Beginners (Lyric Hammersmith); Slowtime, Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, Baby Girl (National Theatre); The No-Boys Cricket Club, Kingston 14, Antigone (Theatre Royal Stratford East); Local Boy, Wildefire (Hampstead Theatre); Sixty Six Books (Bush Theatre); Little Sweet Thing, Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (UK Tour). TV/Film: “Let It Snow,” “Fallout,” “Offside,” (BAFTA Award for “Offside”) “Babyfather,” Fast Girls.
Dexter Bullard headshot new 2 DEXTER BULLARD (Director)
Victory Gardens Theater: Circle Mirror Transformation. Broadway: Grace. Off-Broadway: Mistakes Were Made, Lady, Bug. Regional: The Big Meal (ATC); Odradek (House); Mistakes Were Made, Bug, In the Solitude of Cotton Fields, Place of Angels, Tis’ Pity She’s a Whore (A Red Orchid); Reverie, Better Late Than Nader (Second City); Gas for Less (Goodman Theatre); Butcher of Baraboo (Steppenwolf); Tom & Jerry (American Blues); Tiny Dimes (Famous Door); 5xNo, Julius Caesar, Night at the Fights, Fun & Nobody, Bouncers (Next Theatre). Plasticene: From a Fading Light, One Fal$e Note, Blankslate, The Palmer Raids, And So I May Return, Head Poison, Come Like Shadows…, Volume XII, Refuge, Doorslam.
Taylor headshot TAYLOR BLIM (Becky)
The Theater School at DePaul University: Assassins: The Musical, Gruesome Playground Injuries, Anna Bella Eema, Video Galaxy, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Memo. Film: The Disposal, Forever, Glen of the Downs.
Walter WALTER BRIGGS (Tommy, Fight Captain)
Regional: Romeo Juliet, 12 Nights (American Repertory Theater); All Our Tragic (Getty Villa, LA). Chicago: All Our Tragic (The Hypocrites); Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, North China Lover (Lookingglass Theatre); Hit The Wall (The Inconvenience/Steppenwolf); The Glass Menagerie (Mary-Arrchie). Film: Jessica, A Good Person, Ballad, Older Children.
maurice MAURICE DEMUS (Leon)
Really Really (Interrobang Theatre Project); Brothers Beckett (Black Fox Theatre); Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Black Rep Theatre). TV/Film: “Chicago PD,” “Sirens,” When the Lights Go Out.
jason-2 JASON GOFF (Referee/Bailiff)
Mother Road (LTC Carnaval Festival); The Pillowman (Vandivort Center); Twelfth Night (Swan Rep.); Cyrano de Bergerac (Tent Theatre). The Theatre School at DePaul University: We’re Going to be Fine, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, The Phantom Tollbooth, Our Town, Stardust.
Kenn KENN E. HEAD (Squid)
Victory Gardens Theater: The Lost Boys of Sudan. Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Fish Men, The Convert (Goodman Theatre); The Project(s) (American Theater Company); The Overwhelming (Next Theatre); Seven Guitars (Congo Square Theatre); Invisible Man, Spunk (Court); I’ll Get You Back Again (Steppenwolf First Look). TV: “Chicago Fire,” “ER,” “Early Edition,” various commercials.
John JOHN JUDD (Charlie)
Victory Gardens Theater: Death And The Maiden. The Little Foxes, Measure For Measure, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Iceman Cometh, A Christmas Carol, Magnolia, Shining City (Goodman Theatre); Three Sisters, Clybourne Park, The Butcher Of Baraboo, Last Of The Boys, The Dresser, Orson’s Shadow, Our Town, Golden Boy (Steppenwolf); Othello, Crime And Punishment, The Price (Writers Theatre); The Feast: An Intimate Tempest, Romeo And Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); The Lieutenant Of Inishmore, The Cripple Of Inishmaan (Northlight Theatre); Lettice And Lovage, Gross Indecency (Court), Great Men Of Science (Lookingglass Theatre), Gagarin Way (A Red Orchid); Wrecks (Profiles); Execution Of Justice (About Face); Come Back Little Sheba (Shattered Globe); A Number, The Boarding House (Next Theatre); Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Irish Rep); Angels In America parts I & II (The Journeymen). Off-Broadway: The Iceman Cometh (BAM), Crime And Punishment (59E59), Orson’s Shadow (Barrow Street).
denzel DENZEL LOVE (Troy, Assistant Boxing Coach)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (Emerald City); Coat Check (Dandelion Theatre). The Theatre School at DePaul University: Last Days of Judas Iscaroit, In the Heights, Our Town, John Henry. TV: “Chicago PD,” “They Wake Up,” “Veracity.”
andre ANDRÉ TEAMER (Ray)
Stick Fly (Windy City Playhouse); Ruined (Eclipsed); Jitney (Court); Luck Of The Irish (Next Theatre); The Trial Of Moses Fleetwood Walker (Black Ensemble); Warm On The Cooling Board (MPAACT). TV/Film: “The Playboy Club,” “Chicago PD,” “EMPIRE,” The Christmas Tree, Love Shorts, Market Value.

The Production Team:

Set Design: Tom Burch
Costume Design: Tif Bullard
Lighting Design: Lee Fiskness
Sound Design: Christopher Kriz
Props Master: Jay Tollefsen
Fight Choreographer: Chuck Coyl
Boxing Coach: Ruben Gonzalez
Dramaturg: Isaac Gomez
Production Stage Manager: Helen Lattyak
Production Manager: Scott Miller
Master Electrician: Tom Albright
Wardrobe/Production Assistant: Mandy Stertz

A first look at Sucker Punch!

Check out the trailer for Sucker Punch.

You & Me this Morning gets an inside peak at a rehearsal.