Victory Gardens develops and produces new plays from its Ensemble Playwrights through readings, workshops and productions, and provides necessary resources to further cultivate their individual voices and craft.
Through their seven year residencies, the playwrights are involved in the artistic life of the theater. During that time, the playwrights also engage audiences throughout Chicago’s diverse communities and participate in Victory Gardens educational and community programs. After the residency concludes, the playwrights will join the Alumni, whereby they will maintain an artistic relationship with Victory Gardens.
Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble Alumni
Gloria Bond Clunie
Samuel D. Hunter
Joel Drake Johnson*
Steve Carter (November 7, 1929 – September 15, 2020) was the first Playwright in Residence at Victory Gardens, beginning in 1981, and a member of the inaugural Playwrights Ensemble. Eight productions of his works were mounted at VG during his tenure, five of them world premieres, including the acclaimed Pecong, a retelling of the Medea myth set on a fictional Caribbean island that won the Jeff Award for Best New Work in 1990. He inspired generations of Black playwrights, actors, and theater artists through three decades of work at the American Community Theater and Negro Ensemble Company in New York City.
Photo credit: American Theatre
Joel Drake Johnson (d. January 11, 2020) was a member of the inaugural Playwrights Ensemble at Victory Gardens Theater. During his tenure, five of his plays were produced at VG, all world premieres: Before My Eyes (1998), The End of the Tour (2003), Four Places (2008), A Guide for the Perplexed (2010), and The Boys Room (2011). Joel was an award-winning, internationally produced Chicago playwright and teacher, and his presence brought joy to so many of his students and collaborators.