Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department alumni Kaiser Ahmed ’08 and Arianna Soloway ’13 — both graduates of the Theatre Department’s Theatre Directing Program — have been selected to participate in Victory Gardens Theatre‘s 2016-17 Season Directors Inclusion Initiative, which aims to encourage and develop talented emerging stage Chicago stage directors identifying as people of color, disabled, women, transgender and gender non-conforming. With this initiative, Chicago’s Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theatre — for decades a nurturing place for new work and emerging talent — continues its commitment to cultivating a new generation of diverse stage directors who create dynamic theatre work from their unique points of view. Ahmed and Soloway are two of five emerging Chicago directors selected to serve as assistant directors at Victory Gardens this season as part of the Directors Inclusion Initiative.
Born in Bangladesh and raised in Michigan, Ahmed is co-founder and associate artistic director of Jackalope Theatre, one of Chicago’s most acclaimed young theatre collectives. He is also an Artistic Associate at the Artistic Home Theatre and a 2015-16 Eugene O’Neill National Directors Fellowship Finalist. His Chicago directing credits include productions at Jackalope, the Artistic Home, and Rasaka Theatre. He is also an actor.
Soloway, who hails from Chicago, has directed productions at Chicago’s Haven Theatre Company, Mary-Arrchie Theatre, Otherworld Theatre Company, and American Blues Theatre, where she also served as Outreach Manager from 2013 to 2015. She has also served as a dramaturg for productions at American Blues Theatre and Strawdog Theatre.
“As a theatre that is committed to new plays, diversity, and inclusion, we are excited to invest in and nurture these artists,” says Victory Gardens artistic director Chay Yew. “Over the course of this season, these directors will not only assistant direct a mainstage production, but also be mentored by the artistic staff and receive institutional support and resources. I look forward to working with each of them throughout the season.”
Founded in 1974, Victory Gardens Theatre is housed in the historic Biograph Theatre at 2433 N. Lincoln, Chicago.