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    Posted November 28, 2006

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Chicago's Victory Gardens Moves Into New Home

Victory Gardens, Chicago's award-winning theatre, has opened its 2006-2007 season in a new home-The Biograph, a new state-of-the-art, two-stage facility at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue. There is a 299-seat mainstage plus a 120-seat studio theatre, yet to be completed. Victory Gardens continues, however, to own and manage its location at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, where the theatre produces a second stage production, rents its four theatres to emerging Chicago theatre companies and utilizes the venue for Training Center classes and office space.

Artistic Director Dennis Zacek, who has been with Victory Gardens since 1975 (a year after it opened) and has been AD since 1977, said about the move: "We are keenly aware that this kind of achievement and growth could not have been attained without our audience's belief in Victory Gardens, and in the vitality of world premiere theatre."

Victory Gardens opened in 1974 as a non-profit theatre dedicated to the promotion and development of Chicago theatre talent: actors, directors, designers and playwrights. Its first home was the top floor of the Northside Auditorium Building at 3730 N. Clark Street. Marcelle McVay (who has been married to Zacek since 1972), now Managing Director, was the first employee hired. In 1981 the theatre moved to the first floor at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue; Body Politic Theatre was upstairs. In 1995 Body Politic ceased operations, and Victory Gardens purchased their share of the facility.

In 1999, Equity honored Victory Gardens, Dennis Zacek and Marcelle McVay with the Rosetta LeNoire Award> in recognition of its leadership in multi-ethnic casting. Two years later, in 2001, Victory Gardens received the Tony Award for Regional Theatre for "displaying a continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theatre nationally."

Ms. McVay, in describing the Biograph space, commented, "After years of operating in a theatre storefront, converted from a bowling alley and machine shop, we are thrilled to be opening a facility with wonderful amenities for our artists, including a fully accessible backstage, traps, wing space, new dressing rooms and even a greenroom." Mr. Zacek added, "With the overwhelming support of our city and state, our artists and audiences as well as area corporations, foundations and community organizations, the Biograph will serve our mission of developing new plays and playwrights. As we move forward, we will strive to become 'An American Center for New Plays.'"

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