Victory Gardens stages benefit for Newtown
Cast and crew of Victory Gardens “The Warriors for Newtown,” (top row from left): Will Allen, Cliff Chamberlain, Kristina Valada-Viars, Cora Vander Broek, Matthew Brumlow, director Kimberly Senior and stage manager Tina Jach. Bottom row from left: Writer/producer Mary Hollis Inboden, associate producer Will Rogers and writer Evan Linder. | Lee Litas~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 6, 2013 6:58PM
The Event: In the wake of the Sandy Hook, Conn., elementary school shooting, Chicago Victory Gardens Theater held a benefit on Jan. 6 to raise money for survivors. “The Warriors for Newtown” was conceived and written by Mary Hollis Inboden. The Chicago actress wrote the play as a catharsis to deal with her own grief as a survivor of the Westside Middle School massacre in Jonesboro, Ark., in the ’90s. The one-night-only engagement was attended by approximately 120.
Since its founding in 1974, Victory Gardens has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater. Its current home is the Biograph Theater, a Chicago landmark with some violent history of its own.
Cause célèbre: “This is for the victims of Newtown. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families who have been affected by this terrible tragedy,” said executive assistant Daniel Reinglass.
“This material speaks a very hopeful and healing message,” said Inboden. “We can actually put a hug around the city of Chicago while also supporting Sandy Hook.” The shooting she witnessed at Westside occurred just 13 months prior to the even deadlier Columbine High School incident.
Board President Steve Miller said the show resonated with him as father of young children. “I think we are all struggling with ways that we can concretely do something positive, and this is a way for our theater to do something that will concretely help some folks,” said Miller.
Victory Gardens interim managing director Christopher Mannelli added: “We hope that through the arts, we can make even a little difference to residents of Newtown while inspiring dialogue here in Chicago…to help us work through our own feelings of helplessness, shock and grief.”
Bottom line: The performance raised $1,836 for the Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund. Donations can be made directly by visiting: newtown.uwwesternct.org.