"[A] must-see, powerful production." - Robert Bullen, The Huffington Post
Since the death of his boyfriend, morbidly obese 600 pound Charlie has confined himself to his small Idaho apartment and is eating himself to oblivion. With his health quickly failing, Charlie becomes desperate to reconnect with Ellie, his estranged and angry teenage daughter whom he has not seen in 17 years. He would give her anything: his love, his money….maybe even his life. Written by Obie Award-winning playwright Samuel D. Hunter, The Whale is a tough, humorous and emotionally powerful play about how we cope with loss, and how new definitions of family, friends and religion shape our lives.
Join social practice artist, Dani Bryant, as she brings her dinner + conversation series to VG in conjunction with The Whale. Guests are invited to share a meal and to engage in lively topic-focused dialogues borne of the play’s themes. These conversations will help Dani develop Kitchen, her current work-in-progress, which will be presented following a production of The Whale in early May.
Sunday, April 21: On The Table: Language and the Body - Admission is pay-what-you-can with a ticket to the April 21, 3pm performance of The Whale. Sunday, April 28: On The Table: Gender and the Body - Admission is pay-what-you-can with a ticket to the April 28, 3pm performance of The Whale. May 3 (10pm) and May 4 (6pm): Kitchen - Admission included with a ticket to any performance of The Whale. RSVP to email@example.com to attend.
Post-show • Following every performance
Come for the play. Stay for the conversation. Join a member of our artistic staff to explore the themes and content of The Whale. Often, the cast and creative team will join the discussion.
GROSSED OUT Martha Nussbaum + Samuel D. Hunter in conversation
Sunday, April 7 • 1:30 PM • Free with ticket to The Whale
Meet Charlie. He’s 600 pounds, gay, and literally eating himself to death. Join Martha Nussbaum (From Disgust to Humanity) - one of America’s most influential philosophers and authors - and playwright Samuel D. Hunter as the pair examine how the “politics of disgust” has been used throughout history to transform people into things that gross you out.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT OUT In Association With Windy City Media Group
Wednesday, April 10 • Beginning at 6:00 PM • Free with ticket to The Whale
Join us for this special evening! In advance of the 7:30 PM curtain, join VG Ensemble Playwright and author of The Whale, Samuel D. Hunter, for a special cocktail hour hosted by Amy Matheny/Windy City Media Theatre Series at Bar Forza. Immediately following the 7:30 PM performance, hang back for a special post show conversation hosted by Matheny exploring the LGBTQ issues in The Whale.
OUR ACTIONS HERE ON EARTH A Work-in-Progress Screening of Mormon Movie + Conversation
Mormonism is the fastest growing religion in U.S. History. Join filmmaker Xan Aranda for this special sneak peek of her upcoming film, Mormon Movie. Inspired by Mormon educational films starring her mother during the 1960s, Aranda (Andrew Bird: Fever Year), explores the stories that shaped generations of her ancestors - the pioneers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As the tales and tenets of their controversially clean-cut community are uncovered, Xan tests the unshakeable cornerstones of her family’s evolving beliefs, and re-examines her own story of leaving the faith sixteen years ago.
"There is no question that the...success of The Whale has, well, supersized Hunter's career." - Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
"Victory Gardens' "Whale" a tale of unconditional love" - Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times
"I want to be in conversation with the theater community here...it’s a community and a city that've excited me for so long, I really want to get my stuff out here." - Samuel D. Hunter in an interview with Kris Vire,Time Out Chicago
WILL ALLAN(Elder Thomas) is making his Victory Gardens debut. His recent Chicago include Good People, The March, A Separate Peace (Steppenwolf Theatre Co.), The Seagull, Dartmoor Prison (Goodman Theatre), The History Boys (TimeLine Theatre Co. - Jeff Award for Ensemble and Production), The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? (Remy Bumppo Theatre Co. - Jeff Award for Production), Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing (First Folio Theatre). He has also worked with Strawdog Theatre and Chicago Children’s Theatre. Regional credits include Red and 24 Hours (Human Race Theatre Co.) and the Heartland Festival. He can next be seen in Speech and Debate at American Theater Company. He is an associate artist with TimeLine Theatre Company, a graduate of North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, and this fall, he will begin working toward his Masters’ Degree in Acting at the Yale School of Drama.
DALE CALANDRA (Charlie) As an actor, Dale Calandra has appeared in more than 200 productions. Highlights include: Edna in Hairspray the first national Broadway tour 2004–06, Puck in A Midsummer Nights Dream (Festival Theatre), Squeaky Clean in the world premiere of Stephan Daly’s Lifeidreamedof (Center Theater), Otto in The Food Chain (Organic Theatre), Allen Ginsberg in The Chicago Conspiracy Trial (Remains Theater), and several seasons as Mr. Fezziwig in Goodman Theater’s annual A Christmas Carol. TV: Enrico Caruso in The Untouchables. Film: Leo Persini in Joshua with Tony Goldwyn and F. Murray Abraham. Dale has directed more than 100 productions. As a founder/interim artistic director of Center Theater Ensemble in Chicago, he directed, produced, acted, and was creative director for The Training Center for the Working Actor, Chicago’s Top Acting school for 20 years. Center Productions include The Scarecrow, a wireless version of Peter Pan, Kingdom Of Earth, Blithe Spirit, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, and the cult classic Lysistrata 2411, A.D. published by Doubleday (1995) with productions across the country annually. For 12 years, was artistic director of Festival Theatre, Illinois’ oldest outdoor Shakespeare Company. Productions include: a rock-n-roll
Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest starring Tom Mula, Hamlet starring Henry Godinez, and his award-winning adaptation of Cervantes’ The Adventures of Don Quixote. He recently directed the hit production of Sweet Bird of Youth at The Artistic Home. He has specialized in directing one-person shows. A few are Tom Mula’s Circus of Dr. Lao (Next Theater); Rob LaMont’s Wit, Wisdom & Romance (Cuneo Museum Theater); and Denise LaGrassa’s Is There Anything Really Going On Upstairs? (Royal George Cabaret). He also has developed club performances for The Sparkle Sisters, Shane Taylor, Thalia Tarsino and Robin Trilling, Charles West, Carol Moss, and Becky Menzie. In 2008 he created the character Aunt Lola Cabana: “America’s Favorite Aunt!” Aunt Lola is a host for corporate events, special appearances, benefits, “roasts,” and (believe it or not) a Tupperware Party Show (Top 10 Consultants USA). Aunt Lola appears on a regular basis at Mama Mac’s Cabaret in Downers Grove. DaleCalandra.com for more info.
CHERYL GRAEFF(Liz) has worked at regional and Chicago theaters including: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Victory Gardens, Court Theatre, Missouri Repertory, Piven Theater, Mary-Archie, Folio Theatre, Nebraska Repertory, Trap Door, Kansas City Repertory, Oregon Stage Company, Profiles Theater, Spokane Interplayers, Idaho Theater for Youth, Oregon Stage Company, Milwaukee Repertory, Madison Repertory, Chicago Dramatists, Public Trust, Strawdog, Famous Door, New American Theatre Company, and American Blues Theater Company where she has been an ensemble member since 2002. She has performed at the Kennedy Center several times and toured throughout the U.K. Recent productions include: Waiting for Lefty, Mercy Seat, Rantoul and Die, Body Awareness, and Love Person. TV and film credits include: Chicago Code, Alleyball, Tinsel, Whirleybird, and Stranger Than Fiction.
PATRICIA KANE(Mary) has appeared at Victory Gardens in In the Next Room or the vibrator play and Hannah Free (as well as the film version with Sharon Gless). She has been in numerous productions at About Face Theatre, including What Once We Felt, Pulp, Seven Moves, Fascination, The Terrible Girls, Whitman, Dancer from the Dance, and Cloud Nine. Other credits include productions with the Goodman, Northlight, NYC’s Tectonic Theatre Group, Collaboraction, Live Bait, Stage Left, Bailiwick, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Her playwriting credits include Pulp (Jeff and After Dark awards), Float (Jeff nominated), Seven Moves and Chords.
LEAH KARPEL (Ellie) is thrilled to return to VG for The Whale. Previous VG credits include: We Are Proud To Present A Presentation..., The Shotgun Message (Ignition Festival). Other Chicago credits: The Glass Menagerie, The Hot L Baltimore (Steppenwolf Theatre); Punk Rock (Griffin Theatre); and Feet Of Clay (Last Match Theatre). Regional credits include: Ten Chimneys (Milwaukee Rep); Half And Half (Penguin Rep); The Play About My Dad (CollaborationTown); and Evanston: A Rare Comedy (HERE Arts/PS 122). Leah received her B.F.A. from Boston University and is a graduate of The School At Steppenwolf.
Creative Team Samuel D. Hunter - Playwright Joanie Schultz - Director Chelsea Warren - Scenic Designer Janice Pytel, USA - Costume Designer Heather Gilbert, USA - Lighting Designer Thomas Dixon - Sound Designer Tina M. Jach* - Stage Manager
Wednesday, April 24 - 2:00pm
Friday, May 3 - 7:30pm
Saturday, May 4 - 4:00pm
Audio Description/Touch Tour
Friday, April 26 - 7:30pm (touch tour at 6:00pm)
Sunday, May 5 - 3:00pm (touch tour at 1:30pm)