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Victory Gardens Theater is a not-for-profit professional developmental theater dedicated to playwrights and their works. Emphasis is on the growth of an ethnically and culturally diverse community of theater artists, in support of the playwright, to enhance the national and international status of Chicago and these artists. The theater strives to broaden, strengthen and enrich the theatrical experience of the Chicago audience through developmental theater. The theater conducts a wide range of programs designed to advance the theater's mission of developing new plays and playwrights, to enhance the national and international reputation of Chicago theater, to increase diversity among artists and audiences, and to ensure availability of theater to underserved audiences.
Victory Gardens Theater was founded in 1974 by eight Chicago theater artists to support the development of Chicago Theater: actors, directors, playwrights, and designers. Those eight artists formed the theater's initial artistic leadership. In 1977, Dennis Zacek was appointed artistic director in order to bring a more cohesive artistic vision to the work of the theater. Under his continued leadership, Victory Gardens has focused on representing the ethnic diversity of the region on its stages and has become the region's primary producer of world premiere theater. Victory Gardens Theater is also the home of the Access Project, a model program to serve the hearing-impaired, blind and physically disabled theater-goer. The theater also coordinates an extensive Educational Outreach Program. Student learning is improved by reaching students who may not learn by traditional teaching methods and by use of integrated curriculum to help students make connections in their learning. The theater also offers a training center. Victory Gardens Theater owns its facility at 2257-63 North Lincoln Avenue. Formerly owned in co-operation with the Body Politic Theatre, Victory Gardens purchased the Body Politic Theatre share of the facility in August of 1995 when the Body Politic ceased operations. The 20,000 square foot facility includes a first floor lobby, public restrooms, a 60 seat Studio Theater and a 195 seat Burstein Mainstage Theater. The second floor includes offices, a lobby, 195 seat Mainstage Theater and 60 seat Studio.
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