Sarah Gubbins, Ike Holter, Lucas Hnath
Sarah Gubbins, Ike Holter, Lucas Hnath Credit: Courtesy the artist; Courtesy Goodman Theatre; Courtesy the artist

This year Victory Gardens’ biennial Ignition Festival of New Plays moved away from its historical focus on work by people of color, opening the door to all comers. After receiving more than 1,000 submissions, literary manager Isaac Gomez and theater staff have whittled the roster down to seven works by a group of playwrights more diverse than ever. At the festival, which opens Thursday, each new play will receive a staged reading directed by local artist.

The fest kicks off with back-to-back performance pieces. Where Did We Sit on the Bus? by Brian Quijada uses rap and spoken word; Lack on Lack, by brother-sister hip-hop duo April Fools (aka Kristiana Colón and Damon Williams), takes the audience through Chicago as the two plan a surprise party for their mother (Thu 7/24, 7 PM).

The next night Sender, by Ike Holter (>Hit the Wall, Exit Strategy), follows a young man as he returns to his old life after faking his death for a year (Fri 7/25, 7 PM).

Saturday’s matinee offering is Slingshot (Sat 7/26, 3 PM), by Kia Corthron, about a father seeking justice after his child suffers a work accident due to negligence. At 6 PM there’s a panel discussion on the state of new-play development in Chicago, followed by Hillary and Clinton (Sat 7/26, 7 PM), the latest from Lucas Hnath, whose upcoming Chicago productions include Death Tax at Lookingglass and Isaac’s Eye at Writers Theatre.

The festival wraps up with Paul Downs Colaizzo’s For Tomorrow, Please Prepare (Sun 7/27, 2 PM), about racial tensions at a Georgia high school after a class discussion of Huckleberry Finn, and Cocked by Sarah Gubbins (The Kid Thing), in which a lesbian couple is confronted with the issue of gun ownership (Sun 7/27, 6 PM).