Victory Gardens Playwright Marcus Gardley Awarded Mellon Foundation Grant
by Hedy Weiss
Marcus Gardley, an ensemble playwright with Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre, has been awarded a three-year residency with the company as part of a new $3.7 million initiative by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Along with 13 other playwrights across the country, Gardley will receive a salary and benefits for 3 years, with a $260,000 grant given to Victory Gardens for the residency. Gardley will permanently relocate to Chicago.
In a prepared statement, Victory Gardens artistic director Chay Yew observed: "Marcus has a singular voice and possesses an unflinching ability to poetically describe the African-American experience both nationally and regionally. As a new member of our current Playwrights Ensemble [he joined the group in Spring 2012, along with Philip Dawkins, Samuel D. Hunter and Tanya Saracho], this Mellon residency will afford Marcus even more freedom to develop and produce new work within an artistic home."
Gardley, a poet and playwright, is a recent James Baldwin Fellow and one of 50 USA award recipients for 2012. He is also the 2011 PEN Laura Pels award winner for Mid-Career Playwright. The New Yorker magazine has described Gardley as "the heir to Garcia Lorca, Pirandello and Tennessee Williams." His most recent production, "Every Tongue Confess," premiered at Washington D.C.'s Arena Stage, starring Phylicia Rashad, and directed by Kenny Leon. Gardley is a professor of Theater and Performance Studies at Brown University.