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The Chicago Inclusion Project to Launch with THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE, June 1

The Chicago Inclusion Project

with partners Victory Gardens and the League of Chicago Theatres

launches with a staged reading of

William Saroyan’s The Time of Your Life, directed by Chay Yew

June 1, 2015 at Victory Gardens Theatre

The event will introduce a new initiative dedicated to championing diversity and inclusion among Chicago theatre artists, organizations and audiences

Chicago Inclusion Project Founder and Producer Emjoy Gavino announces the launch of The Chicago Inclusion Project, a collective dedicated to championing inclusion and diversity in Chicago theatre.

Beginning with a professional staged reading series, the Chicago Inclusion Project will highlight contemporary classics performed by Chicago artists of diverse ethnicities, physical abilities and gender identities by creating inclusive theater experiences that illuminate our shared human story, bringing together Chicago artists and audiences normally separated by ethnic background, economic status, gender identity, physical ability and countless other barriers. Through these initiatives, The Project hopes to achieve the goal of fully inclusive theatrical experiences by uniting diverse collections of artists, deliberately choosing the unexpected in play selection and through non-traditional casting, and cultivating a diverse audience by introducing its unique collective of artists to communities across Chicagoland.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved with a few projects that embraced diversity, but that kind of inclusion doesn’t happen nearly enough. Our hope is to inspire theater leaders to abandon what has become ‘default casting’ and look beyond people and their boxes,” says Founder and Producer Emjoy Gavino. “Theater has the power to transcend the obstacles that divide us and we want to empower those who make the decisions to present a more realistic picture of the world.”

The project will launch with a staged reading of William Saroyan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Time of Your Life, on Monday, June 1, 2015, at Victory Gardens Theatre, directed by Victory Garden’s Artistic Director Chay Yew. More readings will follow in the coming months, with additional partners Court Theatre and Writers Theatre, among others, and with the support of The League of Chicago Theatres.

“When Emjoy first approached me about the Chicago Inclusion Project, I knew we had to support this important endeavor,” adds director Chay Yew. “As a theatre that practices racial, gender, and ability equity in casting our mainstage seasons, Victory Gardens Theater is proud to co-produce their first performance celebrating the impeccable talents of our city's finest actors in an all-American classic.”

“The Chicago Inclusion Project is vital to the future of Chicago theatre,” says League of Chicago Theatres Executive Director Deb Clapp. “The League is thrilled to be able to participate.”

To support the Project launch, the ongoing reading series and other programming, The Chicago Inclusion Project has undertaken a crowdsourced fundraising campaign, with an initial fundraising target of $10,000. These initial funds will support reading rights, cast and production staff fees in accordance with Actors Equity standards, planning and marketing expenses and the services of the house and box office staff for all performances, with additional funds going to guarantee the long term viability of the project. Those wishing to support can do so at

Chicago artists attached to the Chicago Inclusion Project currently include Brooke Allen (Resident Playwright - Red Tape Theatre), Charin Alvarez (Ensemble Member – Teatro Vista), Alexis Atwill (Actor), Bryan Bosque (Company Member - Ruckus Theatre), Danny Bernardo (Playwright/Company Member - Balliwick Chicago), Ben Chang (Actor), Behzad Dabu (Company Member - Timeline Theatre), Philip Dawkins (Playwright/Artistic Associate- AboutFace Theatre, Playwrights Ensemble – Victory Gardens Theatre), Stephanie Diaz Reppen (Artistic Associate - 16th Street Theatre), Elana Elyce (Actor), Jessie Fisher (Actor), Anthony Fleming III (Ensemble Member - Lookingglass Theatre), Todd Garcia (Actor), Emjoy Gavino (Ensemble Member - Remy Bumppo Theatre, Barrel of Monkeys, Casting Director – Gift Theatre), Anish Jethmalani (Actor), Delia Kropp (Actor), Sandra Marquez (Ensemble Member - Teatro Vista), Yunuen Pardo (Artistic Associate – Teatro Vista), Barbara Robertson (Actor), Frank Sawa (Actor), Michael Patrick Thornton (Actor/Artistic Director - Gift Theatre), Andrew White (Actor/Artistic Director – Lookingglass Theatre) and Chay Yew (Artistic Director - Victory Gardens Theatre).

Emjoy Gavino is the founder and producer of The Chicago Inclusion Project. Recent Chicago credits include Iphigenia in Aulis, M Butterfly, Wait Until Dark and the world premiere of The Good Book (Court Theatre), 4000 Miles (Northlight), The Drunken City (Steppenwolf), Failure: A Love Story (Victory Gardens), Seascape and the upcoming Love and Information (Remy Bumppo), Working (Broadway Playhouse), Arabian Nights (Lookingglass), Wilson Wants it All (House Theatre), A Very Neo-Futurist Christmas Carol (Neo-Futurists) and A Christmas Carol (Goodman). Emjoy is the casting director at Gift Theatre, a teaching artist with Barrel of Monkeys and an ensemble member of Remy Bumppo.

Chay Yew joined Victory Gardens Theater in July 2011 as its first new artistic director in 34 years. He is a recipient of the Obie and DramaLogue Awards for Direction. His productions have been cited by the Los Angeles Times and New York Times as one of the “Ten Best Productions of the Year;” Seattle Times and Strangers’ Best Achievement in Theatre; and was named Best Director by Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He is the recipient of the GLAAD Media Award, Asian Pacific Gays and Friends’ Community Visibility Award, Made in America Award, AEA/SAG/AFTRA 2004 Diversity Honor, and Robert Chesley Award; he has received grants from the McKnight Foundation, Rockefeller MAP Fund and the TCG/Pew National Residency Program. He serves on the National Advisory Board at the Playwrights Center and the Artistic Advisory Board of Partial Comfort Theatre. He has also served on the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group and is presently on the Executive Board of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

William Saroyan was a novelist, playwright, composer, and author. One of the few proletarian writers of the 1930's who was never Marxist, Saroyan wrote romantic celebrations of American life. His first success came with the publication of "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze," a short story that received an O. Henry Award in 1934. From this work, the author went on to generate over four hundred short stories, of which "My Name is Aram" is held to be most notable. Saroyan once completed a novel in thirty-eight days because that was the amount of time he allotted to do so. He composed his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "The Time of Your Life," in six days in a hotel room in New York and refused the award on the grounds that wealth and business are incapable of judging art. Saroyan's many writings include his autobiography The Bicycle Rider in Beverly Hills, two plays, My Heart's in the Highlands and The Beautiful People, and novels such as Papa You're Crazy.

Title The Time of Your LIfe

Author William Saroyan

Producer Emjoy Gavino

Director Chay Yew

Location Victory Gardens Theatre – Richard Christiansen Stage

2433 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

Dates June 1, 7:30pm

Tickets $15

Tickets will be sold through the Victory Gardens box office later this spring.

(773) 871-3000 /

About The Chicago Inclusion Project

The Chicago Inclusion Project is a collective of artists, committed to creating inclusive theater experiences by bringing together Chicago artists and audiences often separated by ethnic background, economic status, gender identity, physical ability and countless other barriers. By deliberately choosing the unexpected, both in play choices and non-traditional casting, cultivating a diverse audience by bringing new combinations of artists to as many communities in Chicago (and its surrounding suburbs) as possible, choosing facilities for the multiple projects that are handicap accessible and keeping price of tickets affordable, The Chicago Inclusion Project programming aims to unite diverse collections of Chicagoans.

About Victory Gardens Theatre

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew and Managing Director Christopher 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. With Victory Gardens’ first new Artistic Director in 34 years, the company remains committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, continuing the vision set forth by Dennis Zacek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.

Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theatre work and cultivating an inclusive Chicago 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. Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater includes the Zacek-McVay Theater, a state-of-the-art 259-seat mainstage and the 109-seat studio theater on the second floor, named the Richard Christiansen Theater.

In 2012, Victory Gardens appointed new Ensemble Playwrights Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Samuel D. Hunter and Tanya Saracho, for seven-year residencies. The Playwrights Ensemble Alumni includes Claudia Allen, Lonnie Carter, Steve Carter, Gloria Bond Clunie, Dean Corrin, Nilo Cruz, Joel Drake Johnson, John Logan, Nicholas Patricca, Douglas Post, James Sherman, Charles Smith, Jeffrey Sweet and Kristine Thatcher.

About The League of Chicago Theatres

The League of Chicago Theatres is an alliance of theatres which leverages its collective strength to promote, support, and advocate for Chicago's theatre industry locally, nationally, and internationally. The League of Chicago Theatres Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the art of theatre in the Chicago area through audience development and support services for theatres and theatre professionals.


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