PHOTO CREDIT: The cast of Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Chicago premiere of Last Night and the Night Before includes (top, l to r) ensemble member Namir Smallwood with Ayanna Bria Bakari and Sydney Charles (bottom, l to r), Aliyana Hamood, Kylah Renee Jones and Jessica Dean Turner.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the nation’s premier ensemble theater company, is pleased to continue its 47th season with the Chicago premiere of Donnetta Lavinia Grays’ Last Night and the Night Before, a powerful, poetic exploration of what it takes to create a future from a past you long to forget. Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, Last Night and the Night Before will play April 6 – May 14, 2023 in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theater, 1650 N. Halsted St. in Chicago. I'll be out for the press opening, April 16th, so check back soon for my full review.
Last Night and the Night Before will feature ensemble member Namir Smallwood with Ayanna Bria Bakari, Sydney Charles, Aliyana Hamood, Kylah Renee Jones and Jessica Dean Turner.
Monique is on the run. From what, she will not say. Showing up on the doorstep of her sister’s Brooklyn brownstone with her timid daughter Sam – and without her husband – their arrival raises more questions than it answers. As the specter of their abandoned life in Georgia creeps back into focus, the family is forced to consider what must be sacrificed to break a cycle of despair. Poetic and heartbreaking, Donnetta Lavinia Grays’ stunning portrait of Black Love explores what it takes to nurture family in an often-cruel world.
Single tickets for Last Night and the Night Before starting at $20 are now on sale at steppenwolf.org and the Box Office at (312) 335-1650.
Steppenwolf 2022-23 Flex Memberships are currently on sale: Black Card Memberships with six tickets for use any time for any production, and Red Card Memberships for theatergoers under 30.
The creative team includes Regina García (Scenic Design), Izumi Inaba (Costume Design) Mary Louise Geiger (Lighting Design), Larry Fowler (Sound Design), Kirsten Baity (Intimacy Choreographer), Gigi Buffington (Company Voice & Text Coach), Tom Pearl (Producing Director), JC Clementz, CSA (Casting Director), Laura D. Glenn (Production Stage Manager) and Jaclynn Joslin (Assistant Stage Manager). For full cast and creative team bios, visit steppenwolf.org/tickets--events/seasons-/2022-23/last-night-and-the-night-before/.
Donnetta Lavinia Grays (Playwright) is the author of Where We Stand (Lucille Lortel, Drama League, and AUDELCO award nominee), Last Night and the Night Before, Warriors Don’t Cry, Laid to Rest and The Review or How to Eat Your Opposition. She is the recipient of The Whiting Award for Drama, Helen Merrill Playwright Award, The National Theater Conference’s Stavis Playwright Award, Lilly Award, Todd McNerney National Playwriting Award and the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. For television, she has staffed on Spectrum’s Manhunt, FX’s Y: The Last Man and served as Executive Story Editor on Joe Vs. Carole for Peacock. Broadway acting credits include The Skin of Our Teeth, In The Next Room, or the vibrator play and Well. Off-Broadway: Where We Stand (WP Theater/Baltimore Centerstage), Men on Boats (Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb) O, Earth (The Foundry Theatre), In the Footprint (The Civilians, as an Associate Artist) and Shipwrecked! An Entertainment (Primary Stages). Film: The Book of Henry, Wild Canaries, The English Teacher and The Wrestler. TV: Recurring roles on New Amsterdam, Happy, Rubicon, Mercy and Law and Order: SVU. And guest starring roles on High Maintenance, The Night Of, Blue Bloods, The Blacklist, A Gifted Man, Law & Order, Law & Order: CI and The Sopranos.
Valerie Curtis-Newton (Director) is currently Head of Directing at the University of Washington School of Drama and serves as the Founding Artistic Director for The Hansberry Project, a professional African American theatre lab. She has worked with professional theatres across the country including: The Guthrie Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Seattle Rep, Playmakers Repertory Company, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum, New York Theatre Workshop and Southern Repertory Theatre, among others. Awards: 2020: Seattle Times Most Influential People of the Last Decade; 2019: Theatre Puget Sound - Gregory Falls Award for Sustained Achievement; 2016: Seattle Times Footlight Award (Best in Show); 2014: Stranger Genius Awards in Performance and the Crosscut Courage Award for Culture; 2012: Gypsy Rose Lee Award for Excellence in Direction; 2001: Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation’s (SDCF) Gielgud Directing Fellowship; 1997-1999: NEA/TCG Career Development Fellowship for Directors.
The Expanded Steppenwolf Campus
Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s trailblazing new 50,000 square foot theater building and education center, the Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, was designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill FAIA of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, with construction by Norcon. The centerpiece of the new Arts and Education Center is the new 400-seat in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell—one of its kind in Chicago—with theater design and acoustics by Charcoalblue.
The expanded Steppenwolf campus is a cultural nexus for Chicago, offering bold and ambitious opportunities for creative expression, social exchange, unparalleled accessibility, and arts-driven learning for Chicago youth in The Loft, Steppenwolf’s first-ever dedicated education space. The campus expansion also features bright new lobbies and two new full-service bars for socializing designed by fc STUDIO, inc. The $54 million new building is part of Steppenwolf’s multi-phase $73 million Building on Excellence expansion campaign. Learn more about Steppenwolf’s campus expansion at steppenwolf.org/buildingonexcellence.
A Safe Return
As the Chicago theatre community continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Steppenwolf Theatre remains committed to the safety of its patrons and staff. For the most up-to-date information on our venue’s COVID precautions, please visit steppenwolf.org/welcomeback.
Steppenwolf offers accessible services to ensure all audience members have access to our work, including American Sign Language interpretation, Spanish Language captions, wheelchair accessible seating and more. With questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Night and the Night Before is supported in part by Conagra Brands Foundation. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf is also grateful for the significant season support from Northern Trust, Allstate Insurance Company, Amazon, ComEd, JPMorgan Chase, PNC and Vinci Restaurant. Steppenwolf also acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a Chicago theater that is home to America’s ensemble. The company began performing in the mid-1970s in the basement of a Highland Park, IL church—today Steppenwolf is the nation’s premier ensemble theater with 49 members who are among the top actors, playwrights and directors in the field. Deeply rooted in its ensemble ethos, the company is committed to equity, diversity, inclusion and making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to all. Groundbreaking productions from Balm in Gilead and August: Osage County to Downstate and Pass Over—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony® Awards—have made the theatre legendary. Artistic programming includes a main stage season; a Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; LookOut, a multi-genre performance series; and the Steppenwolf NOW virtual stage. The nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf Education engages more than 20,000 participants annually in Chicagoland communities promoting compassion, encouraging curiosity and inspiring action. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, more than 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. 2021 marked the opening of Steppenwolf’s landmark Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts & Education Center—deepening the company’s commitment to Chicagoland teens and serving as a cultural nexus for Chicago. Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis are the Artistic Directors and E. Brooke Flanagan is Executive Director. Keating Crown is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees.
Steppenwolf’s Mission: Steppenwolf strives to create thrilling, courageous and provocative art in a thoughtful and inclusive environment. We succeed when we disrupt your routine with experiences that spark curiosity, empathy and joy. We invite you to join our ensemble as we navigate, together, our complex world. steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.