Victory Gardens Theater Announces Plans for “Making a Scene: Gala 2021”

Victory Gardens Theater has announced plans for its annual premier fundraising event, Making A Scene: Gala 2021, on Saturday, October 23, 2021 in the Ivy Room at Tree Studios, 12 E. Ohio Street. It is an evening celebration in support of Victory Gardens Theater’s ground-breaking education department, new works programs, community outreach and impact work, and the ACCESS project.

Festivities will include an exclusive performance by Brian Quijada and Nygel D. Robinson from their new musical Mexodus, and the honoring of award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order, Chicago Med). Victory Gardens Theater’s Original Playwrights Ensemble, including Claudia Allen, Gloria Bond Clunie, Dean Corrin, Lonnie Carter, Steve Carter (posthumously), Nilo Cruz, Joel Drake Johnson (posthumously), John Logan, Nicholas Patricca, Douglas Post, James Sherman, Charles Smith, Jeffrey Sweet and Kristine Thatcher, will also be honored at the event for their multi-decades contributions to the theatrical community.

S. Epatha Merkerson has won critical acclaim for her work in theater, television and film. She is best known for her 17-season run as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on NBC’s Law & Order (three NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a drama) and currently plays Sharon Goodwin on Chicago Med. Her film credits include Lackawanna Blues (Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG Award, Gracie Allen Award, NAACP Image Award and a IFP Spirit Award nomination), Radio (Cammie Award), Black Snake Moan, Terminator II: Judgement Day, Random Hearts, Lincoln. Theater credits include the 2008 Broadway revival of Come Back Little Sheba (Tony nomination); and The Piano Lesson (Tony, Drama Desk, Helen Hayes Award nominations), among many others.

Merkerson is the recipient of four Honorary Doctorates; her alma mater Wayne State University, The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Montclair State University, and The University of Pittsburgh. She lives in New York City and Chicago.

The Honorary Chair for Making A Scene: Gala 2021 is E. Patrick Johnson.E. Patrick Johnson has published widely in the areas of race, class, gender, sexuality and performance. He is the founder and director of the Black Arts Initiative at Northwestern. He is also a Project& artist, a nonprofit arts organization engaged in art for social change and impact. A prolific performer and scholar, and an inspiring teacher, Johnson is the author of two award-winning books, Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity, and Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—An Oral History. He is the editor of Cultural Struggles: Performance, Ethnography, Praxis by Dwight Conquergood (Michigan UP, 2013) and co-editor (with Mae G. Henderson) of Black Queer Studies—A Critical Anthology and (with Ramon Rivera-Servera) of solo/black/woman: scripts, interviews, and essays and Blacktino Queer Performance (Duke UP, forthcoming).

The Gala Committee is Laura Matalon (Marketing Director, Hamilton: An American Musical), Kate Tillotson (CEO, Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation) and Sue E. Wallace (Vice President & Chief of Staff, Exelon).

Sponsorships for the event start at $2,500. To purchase tickets or for more information, contact Victory Gardens Interim Director of Development Erin Strick at [email protected] or 773.328.2131, or visit

The evening kicks off at 6:00pm with a cocktail reception, followed by the gala performance at 7:00pm, live auction and paddle raise, and dinner. A silent auction will also be held throughout the evening.  Suggested attire for the event is “Night out on the Town” cocktail attire.

Reader’s note: For the health and safety of guests, this event will adhere to CDC guidelines and recommendations from the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois throughout the duration of the event. All attendees must provide either proof-of-vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from no more than 48 hours prior to the event, and complete a self-certification of their health and exposure to COVID-19 ten days prior to the event. This event will feature an outdoor cocktail reception, and windows and French doors throughout the ballroom will be open to ensure a steady flow of fresh air. Masks will be required with removal only to eat or drink.