If you want to see a play before everyone else in the world, tell your cab driver to head north to Victory Gardens. Avoid wearing a red dress if you can.

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Founded in 1974, Victory Gardens Theater has produced more world premieres than any other theater in Chicago. One reason why: an unheard of 14-member Playwrights Ensemble that has collectively garnered six Tony Awards® and two American Theater Critics Association Playwriting Prizes, along with Fellowships from the Guggenheim and The National Endowment for the Arts. In other words, a Victory Gardens world premiere is truly premier.

Great new plays also come from the Victory Gardens Ignition Festival, which showcases new theater works, some of which have gone on to New York to become Pulitzer Prize finalists. Talk about igniting the imagination.

Victory Gardens recently relocated to the famous Biograph Theater, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. John Dillinger was shot by the FBI while leaving the theater in 1934, accompanied by a lady wearing a "red dress" as a signal. Johnny Depp, who recently starred in the movie Public Enemies as Dillinger, knows the neighborhood well.

Victory Gardens at the Biograph features two stages. The grandeur of a twenties' movie palace has been preserved, including the thousand-bulb marquee outside. If you want to try and catch dinner and a show, no problem. Dining in the Lincoln Park neighborhood surrounding the Biograph offers several unique options.

2015-2016 SEASON

  • The Midwest Premiere of Sucker Punch
    September 18 - October 18, 2015
    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 Williams' Sucker Punch takes an unflinching look at family, friends and the world of boxing.

  • Never the Sinner
    November 6 - December 6, 2015
    Chicago, May 21, 1924 - Two handsome and wealthy college students, Nathan Leopold and Robert Loeb, are accused of violently murdering a 14-year-old boy. Are these two successful men capable of murder? What demons could drive this pair to commit such a brutal act? Never the Sinner, a suspenseful courtroom drama from Victory Gardens' Playwrights Ensemble Alumnus John Logan (The Last Ship and Tony Award for Red on Broadway) and directed by Gary Griffin (The Color Purple on Broadway, Appropriate), explores a complex and twisted relationship between two men in search of passion and intellect.

  • The World Premiere of Cocked
    February 12 - March 13, 2016
    Attorney Taylor and her journalist girlfriend Izzie live a comfortable life in Andersonville. Their apartment, relationship and strong anti-gun beliefs are shattered when Taylor's troubled brother Frank crashes, uninvited, into their lives. As secrets and betrayals rise to the surface, the line between self-defense and safety is blurred. Cocked, a timely world premiere thriller from Chicago playwright Sarah Gubbins and directed by Victory Gardens' Associate Artistic Producer Joanie Schultz (Rest, The Whale), returns to Victory Gardens after gripping audiences at the 2014 IGNITION Festival of New Plays.

  • The World Premiere of Hillary and Clinton
    April 1 - May 1, 2016
    Imagine that in an alternate universe, very much like our own, is another world where a woman named Hillary is trying to become president of a country called the United States of America. In a hotel room in New Hampshire in 2008, Hillary is poised to lose her last Primary Election. When her husband Bill arrives in the middle of the night to offer support, he turns the campaign upside down. Fresh from the IGNITION Festival of New Plays, Lucas Hnath's Hillary and Clinton is a fast-paced, no-holds-barred glimpse into a political storm of another world. Chay Yew directs Hnath's 2008 Primary Election fantasy, exploring the extraordinary sacrifices one is willing to make in order to gain ultimate power.

  • The Midwest Premiere of The House That Will Not Stand
    June 10 - July 10, 2016
    Victory Gardens' Ensemble Playwright Marcus Gardley (An Issue of Blood, The Gospel of Lovingkindness) returns with another stirring portrait of historic America. This time Gardley unearths a story of 1836 New Orleans where free women of color are permitted to enter into common-law marriages with wealthy white men. The home and life that Beartrice has built for herself and three daughters, on a foundation of money, freedom and secrets, threatens to collapse after her husband mysteriously dies. Told through Gardley's signature poetic voice and directed by Chay Yew, A House That Will Not Stand is a powerful and bewitching family drama filled with desire, jealousy, murder and voodoo.


Check out our Events Calendar to see what exciting productions are on stage at Victory Gardens Theater while you're here. If you want to see a world premiere play, this could be your chance.

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