Save the Date!
Making A Scene
Gala 2021
Oct 23, 2021
The Ivy Room at Tree Studios,12 E. Ohio Street

It’s time to make a scene! Join us for an exciting evening in support of Victory Gardens Theater’s ground-breaking education, community engagement, access, and new works programs. Held at the beautiful Ivy Room, the evening will feature cocktails, dinner, and live and silent auctions in support of Victory Gardens Theater.

Brian Quijada
Brian Quijada
Nygel D. Robinson
Nygel D. Robinson

This annual premier fundraiser will also include an exclusive performance by Brian Quijada and Nygel D. Robinson from their new musical Mexodus. Plus, we will honor Award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order, Chicago Med) and Victory Gardens Theater’s Original Playwrights Ensemble for their multi-decades contributions to the theatrical community.

Interested in attending? Call or email Meredith Maiorana at or 773-634-9858.

Donate Now

For the health and safety of our guests, we will adhere to CDC guidelines and recommendations from the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois throughout the duration of the event. We ask that all attendees provide either proof-of-vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from no more than 48 hours prior to the event, and we will require all attendees to self-certify their health and exposure to COVID-19 ten days prior to the event. This event will feature an outdoor cocktail reception, and windows and French doors throughout the ballroom will be open to ensure a steady flow of fresh air. Masks will be required with removal only to eat or drink.

Schedule of Events

6:00pm – Outdoor Cocktail Reception

7:00pm – Indoor, Masked Gala Performance

8:00pm – Indoor Dinner Reception (masks removed only to eat or drink)*

9:30pm – Event concludes

* For any guest that chooses to not participate in unmasked indoor activities, you will have the option to take your dinner to go.

Making A Scene: Gala 2021 Honorary Chair

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E. Patrick Johnson

E. Patrick Johnson[/lgc_column]

[lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”true”]E. Patrick Johnson has published widely in the areas of race, class, gender, sexuality, and performance. He is the founder and director of the Black Arts Initiative at Northwestern. He is also a Project& artist, a nonprofit arts organization engaged in art for social change and impact. Johnson is a prolific performer and scholar, and an inspiring teacher, whose research and artistry has greatly impacted African American studies, performance studies, and sexuality studies. He is the author of two award-winning books, Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity, and Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—An Oral History. He is the editor of Cultural Struggles: Performance, Ethnography, Praxis by Dwight Conquergood (Michigan UP, 2013) and co-editor (with Mae G. Henderson) of Black Queer Studies—A Critical Anthology and (with Ramon Rivera-Servera) of solo/black/woman: scripts, interviews, and essays and Blacktino Queer Performance (Duke UP, forthcoming). He is currently at work on the companion text to Sweet Tea, entitled, Honeypot: Southern Black Women Who Love Women and an edited collection of new writings in black queer studies tentatively titled, No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies.[/lgc_column]

Making A Scene: Gala 2021 Honorees

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S. Epatha Merkerson

S. Epatha Merkerson[/lgc_column]

[lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”true”]S. Epatha Merkerson has won critical acclaim for her work in theatre, television and film. She is best known for her 17-season run as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on NBC’s Law & Order (three NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a drama) and currently plays Sharon Goodwin on Chicago Med. Select film credits include Lackawanna Blues (Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG Award, Gracie Allen Award, NAACP Image Award and a IFP Spirit Award nomination), Radio (Cammie Award), Black Snake Moan, Terminator II: Judgement Day, Random Hearts, Lincoln. Select theatre credits include the 2008 Broadway revival of Come Back Little Sheba (Tony nomination); The Piano Lesson (Tony, Drama Desk, Helen Hayes Award nominations); Birdie Blue and I’m Not Stupid (Obie Awards); The Old Settler (Helen Hayes Award). Ms. Merkerson is the recipient of four Honorary Doctorates; her alma mater Wayne State University, The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Montclair State University, and The University of Pittsburgh. She lives in New York City and Chicago.[/lgc_column]


The Original Playwrights Ensemble

Claudia Allen
Lonnie Carter
Steve Carter
Gloria Bond Clunie
Dean Corrin
Nilo Cruz
Joel Drake Johnson
John Logan
Nicholas Patriccia
Douglas Post
James Sherman
Charles Smith
Jeffrey Sweet
Kristine Thatcher

Making A Scene: Gala 2021 supports the following programs

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Our robust arts education department, led by Roxanna Conner, provides new and meaningful learning through arts experiences for nearly 1,500 Chicago Public Schools 7th to 12th grade students.[/lgc_column]

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VG is the nation’s leading hub for innovative, bold new plays and has presented 183 world premieres to date, 90 of which were part of our new works development program, Ignition, or written by members of the Playwrights Ensemble. Our mission is to support and amplify the voices of new, diverse playwrights.


[lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”false”]Black Beauty Festival
Our Community Outreach and Impact work consists of  the Neighborhood Arts Collective-Chicago (NACC) and Black Beauty Festival. Through NACC partnerships with community-based nonprofits, VG extends the reach of performing arts into the neighborhoods. Black Beauty Festival is a free two-day event that uplifts Black-owned businesses.[/lgc_column]

[lgc_column grid=”50″ tablet_grid=”50″ mobile_grid=”100″ last=”true”]Matthew Elam and Aurora Real De Asua speaking
Lastly, with 25 years of access services and artistic programming, The ACCESS Project strives to celebrate the richness of disability culture both on and off the stage. The ACCESS Project is a nationally recognized model outreach effort designed to involve people with disabilities in all aspects of theater.[/lgc_column]

Making A Scene: Gala 2021 Sponsorship Levels

Sponsorships start at $2,500, and include four seats to the event. See the full details and sponsorship level options here. To purchase, contact Meredith Maiorana at 773.634.9858 and she’ll be happy to assist!

All sponsorships are fully customizable! To discuss your needs, please contact Erin Strick, Interim Director of Development, at

Making A Scene: Gala 2021 Committee

Laura Matalon
Chief Marketing Officer, Hamilton: An American Musical
Kate Tillotson
CEO, Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation
Sue E. Wallace
Vice President & Chief of Staff, Exelon Corporation

Making A Scene: Gala 2021 Sponsors

Premier Sponsors

Playwright Sponsors

Director Sponsors

  • Frederick Bates and Ellen Benjamin
  • Brienne Letourneau and Richard Bailey
  • The Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation
  • Mayer Brown LLP 
  • Sylvia and Larry Margolies
  • Susan Weiss and Dean Grosshandler
  • Laura Matalon and Spencer Waller
  • Willkie Farr & Gallagher