Victory Gardens names Erica Daniels as its Managing Director

by Jacob Coakley
Erica Daniels, new managing director of Victory Gardens
Erica Daniels, new managing director of Victory Gardens

CHICAGO—Victory Gardens’ Artistic Director Chay Yew and their Board President Steven Miller named Erica Daniels the theatre’s new managing director. Daniels has worked with Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Second City Theatricals.

More details from Victory Gardens Theater

Daniels will begin her tenure at Victory Gardens on January 2, 2017.  She succeeds Christopher Mannelli, who left earlier this year for GEVA Theatre in Rochester, NY.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Erica Daniels began her tenure at Steppenwolf in 2001 in the position of Casting Director, and subsequently Associate Artistic Director at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Most recently she was President of Second City Theatricals, where she shepherded a remount at Hubbard Street Dance and new collaborations with Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Slate, and The Kennedy Center.

Board President Steve Miller comments, "After an extensive national search, the Board of Directors found the ideal candidate in Erica Daniels. With her relationships in the community and her vast leadership and management experience at Steppenwolf and The Second City, we know that we found an expert collaborator and skillful administrator."

Chay Yew adds, “Erica Daniels has been a longtime friend of Victory Gardens. A cornerstone of the Chicago theater community and a fierce champion of new plays, she brings her uncanny administrative and management acumen to the organization. I can’t think of a more perfect partner and collaborator in Erica. I’m excited for us to further build on the vision and mission of our theatre.”

Erica Daniels comments, “I have long admired the work of Chay Yew and the staff and artists at Victory Gardens. It is a thrill for me to join an organization with such a committed board, talented staff and both renowned and emerging artists.  I look forward to being part of an organization that is dedicated to the social responsibility of theater while producing excellent and challenging new works.”

Most recently, Erica Daniels was President of Second City Theatricals where she shepherded the remount of The Art of Falling with Hubbard Street Dance Company, as well as Black Side of the Moon with Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Second City's collaboration with Slate on Unelectable You The Second City's Completely Unbiased Political Revue, and The Second City's Guide to America at The Kennedy Center. Previously, Erica was The Associate Artistic Director at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. She joined the company in 2001 as the casting director. Erica did the original casting for Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway production of Airline Highway, and the Broadway production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.  She also cast the original production of August, Osage County (also for Broadway, The National Theatre of London and Sydney Theatre Company) and the Broadway production of Superior Donuts. Prior to that, Erica worked as an agent for Geddes, Arlene Wilson and Shirley Hamilton, and spent a year as The Theatre Department Coordinator at William Morris in New York. Working under George Lane, she worked with such writers as John Patrick Shanley, Richard Greenberg, and Edward Albee and directors such as Michael Mayer, Robert Falls and Daniel Sullivan. Erica began her career as a casting assistant at Jane Brody Casting. She has freelanced with various Chicago companies, including Lookingglass, Collaboraction, and About Face. Erica recently cast the independent film Imperfections for Coin Op productions. Erica is on the boards of Rivendell Theatre Company and the League of Chicago Theatres.  She holds a degree in Performance Studies from Northwestern.

About Victory Gardens Theater

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Chay Yew, Victory Gardens is dedicated to artistic excellence while creating a vital, contemporary American Theater that is accessible and relevant to all people through productions of challenging new plays and musicals.  Victory Gardens Theater is committed to the development, production and support of new plays that has been the mission of the theater since its founding, set forth by Dennis Začek, Marcelle McVay, and the original founders of Victory Gardens Theater.

Victory Gardens Theater is a leader in developing and producing new theater work and cultivating an inclusive Chicago theater community. Victory Gardens’ core strengths are nurturing and producing dynamic and inspiring new plays, reflecting the diversity of our city’s and nation’s culture through engaging diverse communities, and in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, bringing art and culture to our city’s active student population.  

Since its founding in 1974, the company has produced more world premieres than any other Chicago theater, a commitment recognized nationally when Victory Gardens received the 2001 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, Victory Gardens Biograph Theater includes the Začek-McVay Theater, a state-of-the-art 259-seat mainstage and the 109-seat studio theater on the second floor, named the Richard Christiansen Theater.

Victory Gardens Ensemble Playwrights include Luis Alfaro, Philip Dawkins, Marcus Gardley, Ike Holter, Samuel D. Hunter, Naomi Iizuka, Tanya Saracho and Laura Schellhardt. Each playwright has a seven-year residency at Victory Gardens Theater.

The Playwrights Ensemble Alumni includes Claudia Allen, Lonnie Carter, Steve Carter, Gloria Bond Clunie, Dean Corrin, Nilo Cruz, Joel Drake Johnson, John Logan, Nicholas Patricca, Douglas Post, James Sherman, Charles Smith, Jeffrey Sweet and Kristine Thatcher.

For more information about Victory Gardens, visit  Follow us on Facebook at, Twitter @VictoryGardens and Instagram at

Victory Gardens Theater receives major funding from The Wallace Foundation, Alphawood Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Shubert Foundation, The REAM Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Allstate Insurance, Polk Bros. Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Orli Staley Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding is provided by: Abbot Downing & Wells Fargo, Alliance Bernstein, The Charles H. and Bertha L. Boothroyd Foundation, Exelon, The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, John R. Halligan Charitable Fund, Illinois Arts Council, Illinois Tool Works, Italian Village Restaurants, Mayer Brown LLP, The McVay Foundation, LLP, The Prince Charitable Trusts, The Saints, Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation, Southwest Airlines, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Whole Foods Market, and Wrightwood Neighbors Conservation Association.