ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar
Steppenwolf Kicks Off 2018/19 Season with World Premiere of Provocative New Play
By Pulitzer Prize-Winning Ensemble Member Bruce Norris Directed by Pam MacKinnon
Now Playing Through November 11 in the Upstairs Theatre
A Co-Commission and Co-Production with the National Theatre of Great Britain
I'll be out for the press opening October 2nd, so check back shortly after for my full review at ChiILLiveShows.com. We're eager to catch what's sure to be a controversial and thought provoking addition to the slew of fall openings on the Chicago scene. Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a long time favorite of ours for unflinching choices, and stellar world premieres.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company opens its 43rd season with a gripping and provocative new work from Pulitzer Prize-winning ensemble member Bruce Norris, directed by Tony Award winner Pam MacKinnon. Downstate is a co-commission and co-production with the National Theatre of Great Britain. This exciting collaboration premieres at Steppenwolf and transfers to the National Theatre in spring 2019 featuring an American and British cast and creative team.
Previews began September 20, 2018, opening is September 30 at 6pm and the production runs through November 11, 2018 in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St. Single tickets ($20-$99) are now on sale through Audience Services at 312- 335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.
Downstate features Steppenwolf ensemble members Glenn Davis (Gio); K. Todd Freeman (Dee); Tim Hopper (Andy); and Francis Guinan (Fred) along with Cecilia Noble (Ivy), Eddie Torres (Felix), Aimee Lou Wood (Effie) and Matilda Ziegler (Em). Elyakeem Avraham, Maura Kidwell and Nate Whelden round out the cast (Cops).
In downstate Illinois, four men convicted of sex crimes against minors share a group home where they live out their lives in the shadow of the crimes they committed. A man shows up to confront his childhood abuser—but does he want closure or retribution? This gripping, provocative new play by Pulitzer Prize-winning ensemble member Bruce Norris zeroes in on the limits of our compassion as it questions what happens when society deems anyone beyond forgiveness.
Known for his darkly comic takes on contemporary issues, Bruce Norris asks to whom we are willing to give compassion. Norris shares, “In the case of this group of people who’ve committed crimes and served their time, we’re not trying to take the easy out and say, ‘These are monsters. We’re done with them. We can dispose of them.’ They are humans, and they are alive. And they’re in a bad situation from the mistakes they’ve made. Now what do we do?’”
Director Pam MacKinnon on what drew her to the production: “I was very taken by the play, I read it and felt vastly for every character. I feel as though it’s Bruce project to demand big empathy from the audience. The characters are so specifically drawn it lends itself to very lively, and actually very funny moments.”
Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro comments, “Bruce’s contract with the audience never changes: he has always wanted to make us uncomfortable and he has always gone right for the jugular. We support the work because it also continues to be written in the spirit of trying to understand the ugliness of our world so that we have a real chance of changing it.”
Director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris shares, “We are delighted to once again be collaborating with Steppenwolf in co-producing Bruce Norris’ compelling, provocative play. It’s terrific that both UK and US audiences will get to experience this production, which is in the extraordinary hands of Pam MacKinnon and a brilliant transatlantic cast.”
Bruce Norris is a Steppenwolf ensemble member and this is the tenth play the company has produced and the fifth world premiere. Norris’s The Low Road was recently produced at The Public. He is the author of Clybourne Park, which premiered in 2010 at Playwrights Horizons and received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as the Olivier, Evening Standard, and Tony Awards for productions at the Royal Court, West End and Broadway. His play A Parallelogram was seen at Second Stage Theater in 2017 and Domesticated played at Lincoln Center Theatre and Steppenwolf in 2015. Additional plays include The Qualms, The Unmentionables, The Pain and the Itch, Purple Heart and others.
Pam MacKinnon was recently named next artistic director of American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco. She is a Tony and Drama Desk Award winning director for Steppenwolf’s revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (also Broadway, Arena Stage). She garnered Tony and Lucille Lortel nominations along with an Obie Award for excellence in direction for Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park (Broadway, Mark Taper, Playwrights Horizons). She also directed Norris’s The Qualms at Steppenwolf and Playwrights Horizons. Broadway credits include her production of Beau Willimon’s The Parisian Woman with Uma Thurman; David Mamet’s China Doll; Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles; Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance; and Amelie, a New Musical (Berkeley Rep and Broadway) in addition to Itamar Moses’ Completeness (SCR and Playwrights Horizons); Sarah Treem’s When We Were Young and Unafraid (MTC), and more. MacKinnon is the President of the Board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and Board Chair of Clubbed Thumb.
Downstate production team
Todd Rosenthal (Scenic Design); Clint Ramos (Costume Design); Adam Silverman (Lighting Design); Carolyn Downing (Sound Design); Gigi Buffington (Company Vocal Coach); Laura Glenn (Stage Manager); Christine D. Freeburg (Asst. Stage Manager); JC Clementz (Casting Director and Artistic Producer) and Patrick Zakem (Artistic Producer).
Tickets & Membership Info
Single tickets are available through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Previews: $20 – $76 and Regular Run: $20 – $99. Prices subject to change.
20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available on the day of the performance by phone only at 312-335-1650. Limit 2 per person.
Rush Tickets: Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show.
Student Discounts: A limited number of $15 student tickets are available online. Limit 2 tickets per student; must present a valid student ID for each ticket; steppenwolf.org/students.
Group Tickets: all groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance throughout the season; steppenwolf.org/groups.
Performance schedule included at end of release
Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N Halsted St near all forms of public transportation, bike racks and Divvy bike stands. The parking facility ($12 or $14, cash or card) is located just south of our theater at 1624 N Halsted. Valet parking service ($14 cash) is available directly in front of the main entrance starting at 5pm on weeknights, 1pm on weekends and at 12noon before Wednesday matinees. Limited street and lot parking are also available. For last minute questions and concerns, patrons can call the Steppenwolf Parking Hotline at 312-335-1774.
Committed to making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to everyone, performances featuring American Sign Language Interpretation, Open Captioning and Audio Description are offered during the run of each play. Assistive listening devices and large-print programs are available for every performance, and the Downstairs and 1700 Theatres are each equipped with an induction hearing loop. All theaters feature wheelchair accessible seating and restrooms, and Front Bar features a push-button entrance, all-gender restrooms and accessible counter and table spaces.
Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks
Connected to the main lobby is Steppenwolf’s own Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, offering a warm, creative space to grab a drink, have a bite, or meet up with friends and collaborators, day or night. Open Tuesdays – Sundays from 8am to midnight, Front Bar serves artisanal coffee and espresso provided by La Colombe and food prepared by Goddess and Grocer. The menu focuses on fresh, accessible fare, featuring grab-and-go salads and sandwiches for lunch and adding shareable small plates and desserts for evening and post show service. front-bar.com
Steppenwolf Theatre Company
is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble represents a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards— have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programming includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi- genre performances series. Steppenwolf Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees.
For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.