OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Month ends with world premiere 'Gospel of Lovingkindess' on stage at Victory Gardens

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-02-08T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Month ends with world premiere 'Gospel of Lovingkindess' on stage at Victory GardensBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Victory Gardens Theater continues its season with the World Premiere of "The Gospel of Lovingkindness" by Ensemble Playwright Marcus Gardley and directed by Artistic Director Chay Yew. It opens Feb. 28 and runs until March 30 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago.

The cast for "The Gospel of Lovingkindness" includes: Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Tosin Morohunfola, Ernest Perry, Jr. and Jacqueline Williams.

The creative team includes: Kevin Depinet (scenic), Samantha Jones (costumes), Lee Fiskness (lighting), Mikhail Fiksel (sound), Jesse Gaffney (props). Tina M. Jach is the stage manager and Jaret Landon is the music director.

"I grew up in Oakland, Calif., one of the most violent cities in America," Gardley said.

"It was impossible to deny the effect violence had on my life, my family, and my community. I've known too many people whose lives were cut short, and had my first personal experience with an attack before the age of ten. As I spend more time in Chicago, I remain surrounded by the violence I've witnessed my whole life. Every day, it seems I hear about a new shooting and a new victim, and I often feel powerless to do anything about it."

It is the story of one mother as she sees her son struggle to find his place in the world, and another mom who sees her son live his dream. When these proud women meet, everything, from their lives, their families, their city, is sent over the edge. As fervent and poetic as a gospel hymn, I'm told this drama about faith, family, and loss was inspired by true events.

" 'The Gospel of Lovingkindness' is my attempt to start a healing process in Chicago through the stage at Victory Gardens," Gardley said.

"This story was inspired by many experiences from my own life and from the tragedies that occur all too often in this city. These characters and their circumstances, while fictional, are composites of real-world people. Instead of telling one person's story, I've tried to tell them all at once. I hope that, in the end, this will be Chicago's story--relevant to all its residents. Perhaps, by sharing a play that explores a common experience, we can find communal healing."

Previews of "The Gospel of Lovingkindness" are Feb. 28 to March 6, with 7:30 p.m. performances Tuesday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Previews are $20-$40. Regular performances run March 8 – March 30 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with the addition of 4 p.m. Saturday performances and 3 p.m. Sundays. There will not be public performances  March 11 or 18. The March 19 performance is at 2 p.m. Regular performances tickets are $20-$52. FYI: (773) 871-3000 or victorygardens.org.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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