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Victory Gardens is one of the few pioneers of independent theater that has survived since the 1970s. The company was rewarded for its unswerving commitment to developing playwrights with a Tony Award for regional theater in 2001 -- a real coup for a relatively small theater. The five or six productions presented each season are always new works, many developed through a series of workshops. The plays tend to be accessible stories about real people and real situations -- nothing too experimental. Even though most shows don't feature nationally known actors, the casts are always first rate, and the plays usually leave you with something to think about (or passionately discuss) on the way home.

Victory Gardens stages shows at its main stage inside the former Biograph movie theater (known in Chicago lore as the place where the FBI gunned down bank robber John Dillinger in 1934). Smaller independent companies such as Shattered Globe and Remy Bumppo play on four smaller stages at the Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., a few blocks south.