Ken-Matt Martin, the incoming artistic director of Victory Gardens Theater here, said he never has revealed this publicly before, but he has a Sankofa bird tattooed on his back.

This mythical creature, with a name that means “return to retrieve” in Ghana’s Akan language, is depicted with its feet pointing forward and its head turned backward — a reminder, Martin said, of “making sure you have a reverence and understanding of the past so that as you move into the future, you know what the hell you’ve come from. That’s key to how I move, how I operate in the world.”

Between late May and early June, a key group of affiliated playwrights quit en masse, protesters demonstrated outside the boarded-up Lincoln Park theater, and its white executive director, who recently had been named artistic director as well, and board president resigned.

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