Friday, January 11, 2013

ACT OUT OPENING: Disconnect at Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens presents the American Premiere of
by Anupama Chandrasekhar
directed by Ann Filmer

Featuring Minita Gandhi, Behzad Dabu,
Kamal J. Hans, Arya Daire, and Debargo Sanyal

Victory Gardens continues its 2012-13 season with the American Premiere of Disconnect, written by Anupama Chandrasekhar and directed by Ann Filmer. The production runs January 25 – February 24, 2013 at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. The Press Opening is Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.

Forty-something Avinash is hopelessly out of step in a company that demands success, energy, and youth. To bring his game up, he is transferred to work with the bright young graduates in Illinois—down on the fourth floor. In the windowless, nighttime offices of a call center in Chennai, India, is a bustling world of energetic Indian workers dreaming the American Dream and faking U.S. accents to target their American “marks” maxed out on credit cards. Anupama Chandrasekhar’s Disconnect is a powerful and witty drama about the consequences of consumer culture and the intricacies of our interconnected global economy.

Artistic Director Chay Yew comments, “While I was at Sundance last year, I made a good friend of British director Indhu Rubasingham, recently the Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre in London. When I told her of my appointment at Victory Gardens, she immediately sent me Anupama Chandrashekhar’s Disconnect. I knew this smart, funny, bittersweet and very observant play needs to be experienced in Chicago. In this poignant study of credit and debt culture in America, Anu has vividly portrayed the complex lives of non-descript voices we often hear when we call customer service, and our interconnected relationship with a country and its people continents away. I’m also very pleased to welcome one of off-loop Chicago’s most exciting directors, Ann Filmer, to lead an all South Asian cast in this American Premiere.”

Disconnect had its world premiere at The Royal Court Theatre in 2010.  The Victory Gardens production marks its American Premiere.  The Independent called it, "A marvel...Disconnect is the Glengarry Glen Ross of our day.”

Previews:              January 25 – February 3, 2013
Regular run:         February 5 – February 27, 2013

Schedule:         Wednesdays:     7:30 pm
                            Thursdays:         7:30 pm
                            Fridays:                7:30 pm
                            Saturdays:         4:00 pm
                            Sundays:            3:00 pm

Location:              Victory Gardens Biograph Theater is located at 
                          2433 N. Lincoln Avenue,
                          in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood

Tickets:                 Previews:            $20 - $40
                             Regular run:      $20 - $50

Box Office:            The Box Office is located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago

The cast of Disconnect includes Minita Gandhi (Vidya), Behzad Dabu (Giri), Kamal J. Hans (Avinash), Arya Daire (Jyothi), Teresa Kuruvila (US), Owais Ahmed (US), and Debargo Sanyal (Ross).

The designers are Grant Sabin (Set Designer), Mac Vaughey (Lighting Designer), Christine Pascual (Costume Designer), Barry Bennett (Sound Designer) and Dennis Conners (Stage Manager).

Full performance schedule
Previews of Disconnect are January 25 – February 3, 2013: Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 3 pm.  Previews are $35-$40.   Regular performances run through February 27, 2013: Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 4 pm; Sunday at 3 pm.  Regular performances are $35-$50.

Performances are at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.  For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens Box Office, 773.871.3000 (TTY: 773.871.0682), email, or visit  Ask the Box Office about student tickets ($15), senior, Access, 20 for $20, and rush discounts.  For group discounts, call 773.328.2136.

Dig Deeper Events:

A Town Hall Discussion
Thursday, January 31, 2013 (Post-show)
Alarms went off in a recent La Jolla Playhouse production of Nightingale when white actors played Asian characters. In Chicago, the issue was raised with Oak Park’s Circle Theatre’s Bollywood treatment of Pippin. Where do we stand on nontraditional casting? Is this a form of minstrelsy or is this harmless cultural appropriation? Join Victory Gardens for an important town hall conversation on playing race in American theatre.

Reading of Indio written and performed by Alladin Ullah
accompanied on tablas by Avirodh Ramsamooj; directed by Chay Yew
Sunday, February 10, 2013 - Free for Disconnect ticketholders
Auditioning to play a terrorist in a major Hollywood movie may be stand-up comedian Aladdin’s big break. As he prepares for his audition, he finds himself thinking back on his deceased father, who left Bangladesh for a better life in New York, and his parents’ futile attempts to raise him Muslim in Spanish Harlem. Accompanied by the tabla, Aladdin takes us a hilarious and moving journey about art, immigration, family, the Yankees and the nature of the American dream. Presented in association with Silk Road Rising.

A Presentation and Conversation 
Monday, February 11, 2013 at 7:30 pm 
Who is really on the other end of the phone? Responding to the themes of identity and race in Disconnect, the Third Coast International Audio Festival conducts an evening of audio stories specially curated for a conversation about identity: real and imagined.

A Play Reading Festival 
March 7 - 17, 2013
Victory Gardens Theatre hosts the International Voices Project 2013, a two weekend festival of contemporary plays from across the globe.

About the Artists

Anupama Chandrasekhar (Playwright) is a journalist-turned-playwright based in Chennai.  She has a Masters in Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Anupama will makes her American debut at the Victory Gardens Theater with Disconnect. The play originally opened at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 2010 to sell out shows and critical acclaim. It has been staged in Austria and the Czech Republic and will have its West Coast premiere at the San Jose Rep in March 2013.  Her breakout play Free Outgoin premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2007. It was revived at the Royal Court’s main theatre the next year and travelled to the Traverse Theatre for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  Anupama was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (U.S.), given annually to outstanding works by women in the English speaking theatre, for her Free Outgoing. She was also a runner-up in 2008 for the London Evening Standard’s Most Promising Playwright award and shortlisted for the Whiting Award, UK for the play. Her screenplay adaptation of Free Outgoing was a finalist for the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab, Utah. Her most recent work was her adaptation, The Snow Queen, commissioned by the Unicorn Theatre in London as part of the British Council’s Connection Through Culture project. It opened for Christmas in 2011 and was a tremendous box office success. Remounted by Trestle Theatre, the play toured India in 2012 and will further tour the UK in 2013.  Anupama is currently working on Bay-Sea-Ocean, a new commission from the Royal Court Theatre. Other plays include Kabaddi-Kabaddi (Royal Court Theatre – 2005, International Human Rights Watch Film Festival); Whiteout (Royal Court Theatre, BBC Radio World Drama – 2006); Anytime, Anywhere (Kimaayaa, 2004); and Closer Apart (Theatre Nisha, 2003) and ACID (QTP, 2004). Additional awards include Charles Wallace India Trust fellowship to attend the Royal Court Theatre International Residency for Young Playwrights 2000; Regional Winner (Asia) of the Commonwealth Short Story Competition 2006; and Runner up Jane Chambers International Award for Women Playwrights 2005 for her play, Acid.

Ann Filmer (Director) has directed over 40 productions in Chicago, half of those being world premieres, at such theatres as Red Orchid (Brett Neveu's Eric LaRue), Shattered Globe (House of Blue Leaves), Live Bait, Stage Left (David Alan Moore's In Times of War and Mia McCullough's Spare Change), Porchlight, Prop Thtr, The Aardvark, and Emerald City. She also has directed for Northwestern, NIU, DePaul, UIC, Circle Theatre in Forest Park (Susan Hahn's Golf), William Inge Theatre Festival in Kansas, and 29th Street Rep in New York.  She was the 2004-05 recipient of the Michael Maggio Directing Fellowship at the Goodman Theatre where she directed David Mamet's Almost Done, Reunion, and Dark Pony. In 2001 she received an After Dark Award for her direction of John Green's The Liquid Moon at Chicago Dramatists.  Ann was the Associate Artistic Director of Writers' Theatre in Glencoe for three years and served on the board of the League of Chicago Theatres. While Producing Director of Chicago Dramatists from 2000-2004, Ann co-produced the National Showcase of New Plays 2004. She is the editor of "New Plays from Chicago" Chicago's first-ever anthology of new plays and the creator and Artistic Director of Chicago's Estrogen Fest. Ann founded 16th Street Theater in September 2007 and has developed and directed the world premieres of Rohina Malik's Unveiled, Susan Hahn's The Scarlet Ibis, Will Dunne's The Ascension of Carlotta, Robert Koon's Menorca and Tony Fitzpatrick's This Train which enjoyed a sold-out, critically-acclaimed remount at Steppenwolf's Garage Theatre. She also directed the Jeff-Nominated Kita y Fernanda by Tanya Saracho, Anna Deavere Smith's Fires in the Mirror and Brett Neveu's The Last Barbecue. Ann has shared the stage with Tom Wopat and Jennifer Garner.

Owais Ahmed (Understudy) is making his Victory Gardens debut. He is a senior, graduating with a B.A. in Acting at Illinois State University, where he was most recently seen as Anon in Anon(ymous).  He was also seen in The Merchant of Venice (Shylock), The Passion Play (Visiting Friar/Englishman), and in Bhopal (Jaganlal). Owais is also a national Irene Ryan Award finalist through the Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival.

Behzad Dabu (Giri) is making his Victory Gardens debut.  He grew up in Syracuse, NY, made Chicago his home in 2005 and has since been performing on various stages all over town; most recently, in Disgraced at American Theater Company. Other credits include: TheatreSeven's We Live Here, First Folio's Twelfth Night, The Goodman's Christmas Carol, Holes at AdventureStage, and the original cast of The History Boys at TimeLine Theatre, where he will return this summer performing in Blood and Gifts.  In addition to stage work, he can be seen and heard in various commercial and voice-over spots. Behzad attended Columbia College Chicago, where he now works full-time in addition to acting.    

Arya Daire (Jyothi) is making her Victory Gardens debut in Disconnect. A "reformed" lawyer, this is her second appearance on the Chicago theatre scene, after her turn as Marcy Park in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Minita Gandhi (Vidya) made her Victory Gardens debut earlier this season with the role of Judith in  Equivocation. Regional credits include Mary Zimmerman’s The Arabian Nights at Lookingglass Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theater, and The Arena Stage; Half-Life, A Christmas Carol, and The Voysey Inheritance at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre; Around the World in 80 Days, A Christmas Carol at Indiana Repertory Theater; Twelfth Night at First Folio Theater; Distracted at ATC, and Gilgamesh at the MCA with Silk Road Rising. Film/TV credits include Fox's “The Chicago Code” and Parvati's “Golden Skin.” Minita was born in Mumbai, India and specializes in East-Indian dance and movement. She travels and performs with the corporate comedy troupe Wavelength, teaches anti-bullying techniques and sexual abuse prevention for K-12 with Imagination Theater, is a graduate of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, and is represented by The Gray Talent Group.

Kamal J. Hans (Avinash) makes his Victory Gardens mainstage debut with Disconnect.  Most recently Kamal appeared as Mourad in the world premiere of Mia McCullough’s Impenetrable at Stage Left Theatre.  This year, Kamal’s projects include Shakespeares’ Much Ado About Nothing – “A Bollywood Spectacular” which he is producing as the Managing Director for Rasaka Theater (the Midwest’s first South Asian Theater company) and in the Regional Premiere of Jonas Hassen Khemiri'sInvasion! at Silk Road Rising.  Favorite roles include Mayor in Fuckin’ A (Urban Theater), Marius in Fanny, Caliban in Shakespeare’s Tempest, Devendra in Silk Road’sMerchant On Venice, Salieri in Amadeus and Anatoly in Chess.  Kamal’s studies include the Theatre School at DePaul University, Julliard School, The University of Chicago GSB and Illinois Wesleyan University. 

Teresa Kuruvilla (Understudy) recently graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a B.F.A. in Music Performance. She was most recently seen playing Bloom in the Literary Guild Complex's original production of Unnatural Spaces, directed by Coya Paz. In addition to acting, she frequently performs as a vocalist throughout Chicago. She is a teaching artist for After School Matters, as well as the International Performing Arts Academy.

Debargo Sanyal (Ross) is making his Chicago stage debut in Disconnect at Victory Gardens. He was recently seen opposite Morgan Freeman in the Magnolia Pictures feature film The Magic of Belle Isle (directed by Rob Reiner), and opposite Robert De Niro & Kate Beckinsale in the Miramax feature film Everybody's Fine. Other feature film credits include The Normals, Today's Special, Bert and Arnie's Guide to Friendship, Made for Each Other, Drawing with Chalk, Red Hook, West 32nd, Sita Sings the Blues, Karma Calling, Quarter Life Crisis, Sad Sack Sally, Ashes, and My Sassy Girl. NYC stage credits include: the Obie Award-winning U.S. premiere production of Jonas Hassen Khemiri's Invasion! (The Play Company at Walkerspace), the world premieres of Chuck Mee's Queens Boulevard (the musical) (Signature Theatre Company), Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas' Bird in the Hand (Fulcrum Theater), Chad Beckim's After. (Partial Comfort Productions), Larry Kunofsky's Your Boyfriend May Be Imaginary (The Management), Mike Batistick's Port Authority Throw Down (The Working Theater), Andrea Lepcio's Looking for the Pony (Vital Theatre Co), Kate E Ryan's Women of Trachis (Target Margin), Sonya Sobieski's Commedia Dell Smartass (New Georges), Kristin Newbom's Telethon (Clubbed Thumb), and the NY premiere of Tom Stoppard'sIndian Ink (Alter Ego Productions). TV credits include guest appearances on Blue Bloods, Damages, Law & Order, The Sopranos, NYC 22, Law & Order-Special Victims Unit, The Unusuals, Running Wilde, Law & Order-Criminal Intent, All My Children, and national commercials.

Access Performances
Audio description and touch tours for patrons who are blind or have low vision
Friday, February 15       Performance 7:30pm
Sunday, February 24     Performance 3:00pm/7:30pm     Touch Tour        1:30pm/6:00 pm                                                                             
Call 773.871.3000 for reservations.

Word for word captioning for patrons who are hearing impaired
Wednesday, February 13 at 2:00pm                             
Friday, February 22 at 7:30pm
Saturday, February 23 at 4:00pm
Sign language interpretation for patrons who are deaf or hearing impaired
Friday, February 22 at 7:30pm

Victory Gardens is the winner, Best Accessible Theater, Deaf Illinois Awards 2009.  See and click on “Enhance Your Visit” for information on other Access services including large print and Braille programs, assisted listening devices, and artist development workshops as well as a full schedule of special events, post-show discussions and presentations.

Logistics and Amenities
$11 valet parking is available for all performances except weekday matinees. Metered and street parking is available, but mind the neighborhood parking restrictions.

Public transit
By CTA train, take the Red, Purple or Brown lines to the Fullerton stop.  Walk east on Fullerton to Lincoln, then north 1/2 block to the theater.   The #8 Halsted, #11 Lincoln,  #37 Sedgwick/Ogden, and #74 Fullerton CTA buses all stop at the corner of Fullerton and Halsted, 1/2 block south of the theater.  See for times and routes.

Pre- and post-show dining
See for a list of Victory Gardens’ neighborhood dining partners.  Each is within walking distance of the Biograph, and all offer a special discount to patrons who present a Victory Gardens ticket stub.

About Victory Gardens Theater
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Managing Director Chris Mannelli, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals. Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theatre work and cultivating an inclusive theater community. Victory Gardens’ core strengths are nurturing and producing dynamic and inspiring new plays, reflecting the diversity of our city’s and nation’s culture through engaging diverse communities, and in partnership with Chicago Public Schools,  bringing art and culture to our city’s active student population.  

Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater, a commitment recognized nationally when Victory Gardens received the 2001 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Our commitment to developing, supporting and producing new theatre work makes Victory Gardens an American Center for New Plays.

In 2006, Victory Gardens successfully completed an $11.8 million renovation of Chicago’s famed Biograph Theater, and moved two blocks north from its longtime venue at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue, to its beautiful new home in one of Chicago’s most celebrated historic landmarks.  Renamed Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, the new venue is a state-of-the-art 299-seat mainstage which has greatly expanded the company’s artistic flexibility.

In 2009, Victory Gardens completed the second phase of renovation at the Biograph, building an intimate, new, 109-seat studio theater on the second floor.  On March 1, 2010, at a special launch event for Victory Gardens $1 million Campaign for Growth, the theater’s new studio was officially named the Richard Christiansen Theater, in honor of the Chicago Tribune chief critic emeritus and longtime champion of Chicago’s live theater scene.  Visit for more details.

Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from Alphawood Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Allstate Insurance, The Boeing Company, Crown Family Philanthropies, Leo S. Guthman Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, Polk Bros. Foundation, and REAM Foundation. Additional funding is provided by: Illinois Arts Council (a state agency), The Edgerton Foundation, The James S. Kemper Foundation, Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Sara Lee Foundation, Venturous Theater Fund, McVay Foundation, The Seabury Foundation, Wrightwood Neighbors Conservation Association, The Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, Illinois Tool Works, Motorola Mobility Foundation, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, a City Arts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, The Irving Harris Foundation, PNC Foundation, and The Saints.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Google Analytics