Victory Gardens Theater will celebrate the publication of Jeff Sweet’s anthology, The Value of Names and Other Plays, with an event to be held at its Biograph Theater space, 2433 N. Lincoln, on Monday, 6/30, 6 PM. Admission is free but reservations are recommended (773-871-3000 or The event, which I’m hosting, includes readings from the plays as well as a Q&A with Sweet. Afterward, Sweet will sign copies of the book, which will be sold at a 10 percent discount off the $29.95 retail price.

Published by Northwestern University Press, the book contains 12 works–sketches, one-acts, and full-length plays–that have been produced in Chicago and around the country.

I’ve known Sweet (who now lives in New York) since the 1960s, when we were teenagers in Evanston. More than anyone I knew, Sweet was sure of what he wanted to be when he grew up: his first playwriting efforts were presented at Evanston Township High School. Though he majored in film at New York University, he remains, as retired Chicago Tribune critic Richard Christiansen writes in his foreword to the new book, “determinedly and zealously devoted to the theater.” He’s also accomplished as a journalist, teacher, and historian; his 1978 book Something Wonderful Right Away, still in print, is the essential oral history of Second City and the Compass Players. 

Among the Sweet scripts Victory Gardens has mounted are Porch, which introduced Sweet to Chicago theatergoers in 1979; The Value of Names, starring Shelley Berman and Byrne Piven; and Flyovers, with William Petersen and Amy Morton.