Showing posts with label Rajiv Joseph. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rajiv Joseph. Show all posts

Saturday, January 14, 2023

SAVE THE DATES: Chicago Premiere of Describe the Night Via Steppenwolf Theatre March 2 – April 9, 2023

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar

Steppenwolf Theatre continues its 47th Season

with the Chicago premiere of

Describe the Night

By ensemble member Rajiv Joseph

Directed by ensemble member Austin Pendleton

March 2 – April 9, 2023  

The cast of Steppenwolf Theatre’s Chicago premiere of Describe the Night includes (top row, l to r) Glenn Davis, James Vincent Meredith and Sally Murphy (middle row, l to r) Caroline Neff and Yasen Peyankov (bottom row, l to r) Karen Rodriguez, Jack Cain and Jon Hudson Odom.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the nation’s premier ensemble theater company, is pleased to continue its 47th season with ensemble member Rajiv Joseph’s Chicago premiere of Describe the Night, directed by ensemble member Austin Pendleton. This thrilling mystery buried by years of history, fiction and conflict will play March 2 – April 9, 2023 in Steppenwolf’s stunning new in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell, the centerpiece of its recently unveiled Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, 1646 N. Halsted St. in Chicago. I'll be out for the press opening March 12th, so check back shortly after for my full review.

Describe the Night will feature ensemble members Glenn Davis, James Vincent Meredith,Sally Murphy, Caroline Neff, Yasen Peyankov and Karen Rodriguez with Jack Cain and Jon Hudson Odom.

Truth is lie; lie is truth. 1920: Jewish writer Isaac Babel begins a journal while serving in war. Ninety years later, this same journal is found in the wreckage of a suspicious plane crash. What did Babel write, and why does it matter? Ensemble member Rajiv Joseph’s epic thriller ricochets through place and time following the unlikely lives of seven individuals – soldiers and poets, KGB agents and babushkas – as they unearth mysteries buried by decades of history, fiction and blood. 

Single tickets for Describe the Night starting at $20 are now on sale at 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.  


Production Information

In Steppenwolf’s Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell, 1646 N. Halsted St., Chicago

March 2 – April 9, 2023

Press opening: Sunday, March 12, 2023 at 6 pm

Ticket information: Single tickets starting at $20 are now on sale at and the Box Office at (312) 335-1650.

The creative team includes Collette Pollard (Scenic Designer), Raquel Adorno (Costume Designer), Keith Parham (Lighting Designer), Pornchanok Kanchanabanca (Sound Designer), Gigi Buffington (Company Voice and Text Coach), Tom Pearl (Producing Director), JC Clementz, CSA (Casting Director), Christine D. Freeburg (Production Stage Manager) and Kathleen Barrett (Assistant Stage Manager). For full cast and creative team bios, visit


Artist Biographies:

Rajiv Joseph (Playwright) is a Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble member. His play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. He has twice won the Obie Award for Best New American Play, first in 2016 for Guards at the Taj (also a 2016 Lortel Winner for Best Play), and again in 2018 for Describe the Night. Other plays include King James, which recently had its world premiere at Steppenwolf, Letters of Suresh, Gruesome Playground Injuries, Animals Out of Paper, The North Pool, The Lake Effect, Archduke and Mr. Wolf. He is a graduate of Cleveland Heights High School in Ohio. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Ohio, and his MFA from New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts.

Austin Pendleton (Director) began working with Steppenwolf in 1979, when he directed the Ensemble in Say Goodnight, Gracie by Ralph Pape. After that, he returned to direct Loose Ends (by Michael Weller), Three Sisters and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  Then he was cast opposite Laurie Metcalf in Educating Rita, directed by Jeff Perry, and on the first day of rehearsal for that was asked to join the Ensemble officially. Since then, he has acted and directed at Steppenwolf frequently, and most recently acted on Broadway in the Steppenwolf-originated The Minutes, by Tracy Letts, directed by Anna D. Shapiro. He has acted over the years in several Broadway shows (the first being the original production of Fiddler on the Roof, in which he was the first Motel, the Tailor), and many off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway shows. He has also directed in these venues, winning a Tony nomination for The Little Foxes (with Elizabeth Taylor) and an Obie Award for Three Sisters (with Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenhaal). He's appeared in about 300 movies, and on TV in recurring roles in Oz and Homicide. He has written three plays: Orson's Shadow (which started at Steppenwolf, directed by David Cromer, that moved to off-Broadway and ran for a little under a year); Uncle Bob (the second production of the play, after its New York premiere); and Booth, which, after its New York premiere played at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe. He was also commissioned by Writers' Theatre to write the libretto for A Minister's Wife, a musical adapted from Shaw's Candida, with music by Josh Schmidt and lyrics by Jan Tranen, conceived and directed by Michael Halberstam, which then moved to the Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center, in New York. All these works are published and have been frequently produced around the country, and, in the case of Orson's Shadow, in London, and in the case of Uncle Bob, in Paris, translated by Jean-Marie Besset.


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

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 offers accessible services to ensure all audience members have access to our work, including American Sign Language interpretation (available for student matinees as scheduled with education staff or per public performances below), Spanish Language captions, wheelchair accessible seating and more. With questions, email

Sponsor Information 

Describe the Night is generously supported in part by the Zell Family Foundation and PNC. 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, Conagra Brands Foundation, 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.,, and        

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo at Northwestern University's Wirtz Center April 22 – May 1, 2022

ChiIL Live Shows On Our Radar 

Northwestern’s Wirtz Center closes season with bold dramas

“Bengal Tiger” and “Water by the Spoonful” 

provide relevant connections to our time

I'll be checking out Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo on the 23rd, with my son. I reviewed this play at Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre back in January of 2013 and still recall the deep impact it made. I just reviewed the world premiere of Rajiv Joseph's new smash hit at Steppenwolf last month (King James Review) and can't wait to see Northwestern's take on his award winning words.

"GROUNDBREAKING… I'm tempted to call it the most original drama written so far about the Iraq war, but why sell the work short? The imagination behind it is way too thrillingly genre-busting to be confined within such a limiting category."

—Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times

The complexities of our current times are reflected in two bold dramas set to take the stage at Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts on the Evanston campus this spring. “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” blends the realities of war and humor as a tiger haunts the streets of present-day Baghdad seeking the meaning of life. The second offering, “Water by the Spoonful,” is a Pulitzer prize-winning drama about forgiveness, redemption and family in a precarious, virtual world that reverberates in real life.

“Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo”

April 22 – May 1

Josephine Louis Theater

“Bengal Tiger at Baghdad Zoo” is based on a real-life incident at the Baghdad Zoo involving two U.S. Marines and an Iraqi translator who encounter a tiger. The play unfolds to reveal how war influences each of these characters.

“When I picked this play, there was no war,” said director Hamid Dehghani, a master’s degree candidate in the School of Communication. “But now, we are unfortunately dealing with a terrible war in Ukraine, making this show even more relevant.”

“Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” was written by Steppenwolf Theater ensemble member Rajiv Joseph, and appeared on Broadway in 2011 starring Robin Williams as the Tiger in the actor's Broadway debut.

“I think Rajiv Joseph realized that a play all about war and violence is a challenging play to watch — it does have its moments that are quite intense,” said Ph.D. student Keary Watts, dramaturg for the production. “Joseph layers in comedy and absurdist elements to give the audience a break, in some sense, but also to show that these characters have levity and that these characters are more than just a type. They're more than just soldiers or interpreters, or animals, they are fully formed beings capable of being serious in one moment and lighthearted in the next.”.

Performances of "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. in the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus.


“Water by the Spoonful”

May 20 – 29

Ethel M. Barber Theater

“‘Water by the Spoonful’ is a heartfelt, poetic meditation on people at the brink of redemption and self-discovery that takes place during a time of heightened uncertainty,” said director Ji Won Jeon, a master’s degree candidate in the School of Communication.

“This play is especially relevant given the impact of human connections and the virtual aspects related to the pandemic these past few years,” he said.

Playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, Tony-nominated for “In the Heights” and screenwriter for the film, tells the story of two families — one connected by birth, one discovered online — who struggle with human connection but reveal that honest relationships are the lifeline in our brutal world.

“‘Water by the Spoonful’ paints a vivid portrait of addicts' struggles,” said Lia Christine Dewey, dramaturg and Northwestern Ph.D. candidate. “It's all about human connections and failing the people you care most about.” 

Performances of "Water by the Spoonful" are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. in the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus.



More information and tickets for both shows are available on the Wirtz Center website. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 847-491-7282 or in-person at the Wirtz Center box office, located in the lobby of the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive on Northwestern's Evanston campus. Box office hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday’s from noon to 4 p.m.  The box office is closed Sundays and Mondays.

The Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

OPENING: Chicago Premiere of Obie Award-Winning Play Guards at the Taj at Steppenwolf Theatre 5/31/18-7/22/18

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:  

Ensemble Member Amy Morton Directs
Chicago Premiere of Obie Award-Winning Play
Guards at the Taj
Written by Rajiv Joseph

designed by David Masnato

 May 31 – July 22, 2018

Steppenwolf Theatre Company presents the Chicago premiere production of Guards at the Taj by acclaimed playwright Rajiv Joseph, directed by ensemble member Amy Morton. A stunning tale about the search for beauty in desperate circumstances, the Steppenwolf production features the original cast members, Omar Metwally (Humayun) and Arian Moayed (Babur), whom Amy Morton directed in the Off-Broadway world premiere which received rave reviews when it premiered in 2015 and won the 2016 Obie Award for Best New American Play.

Guards at the Taj begins previews May 31, 2018 and the production runs through July 22 in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St. Press performances are Monday, June 11 at 7:30pm and Wednesday, June 13 at 7:30pm; opening night is Monday, June 11. Single tickets ($20-$89) are currently on-sale through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or

India 1648. The dawn will reveal for the first time the extraordinary beauty of the Taj Mahal, built as a tribute to the ruler who demanded its construction. But for two hapless imperial guards, the morning light brings with it an unspeakable task that will shake their faith in God, the empire and their lifelong friendship. This boldly funny and deeply moving play examines the true meaning of beauty and the cost of transcendence in a world that confuses the value of both. 

Rajiv Joseph’s (Playwright) play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. His play Guards at the Taj was a 2016 Obie Winner for Best New American Play and 2016 Lucille Lortel Winner for Best Play.  His play Archduke, received its World Premiere last spring at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles; and his play Describe the Night premiered last fall at Alley Theatre, followed by an Off-Broadway run at the Atlantic Theater. Other plays include Gruesome Playground Injuries, The Monster at the Door, Animals Out of Paper, The Lake Effect, The North Pool, Guards at The Taj, and Mr. Wolf. Rajiv has been awarded artistic grants from the Whiting Foundation, United States Artists and the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.  He is a board member of the Lark Play Development Center in New York City, where he develops all his plays. He served for three years in the Peace Corps in Senegal and now lives in Brooklyn, NY. 

Amy Morton (Director) has been a Steppenwolf ensemble member since 1997 and directed several Steppenwolf productions including Clybourne Park, American Buffalo, Dublin Carol, The Pillowman, among others. She directed the world premiere of Guards at the Taj at the Atlantic Theater Company in 2015 and returns with the original cast for the Chicago debut.  She has performed in more than 30 Steppenwolf productions, including the recent production of Taylor Mac's Hir, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (also on Broadway, Tony nomination) and August: Osage County(also at the National Theatre and Broadway, Tony nomination). Currently she stars as Trudy Platt in the NBC drama series Chicago P.D.

Omar Metwally (Humayun) Steppenwolf: Homebody/Kabul. Broadway: Sixteen Wounded (Tony and OCC nominations). Off-Broadway: Guards at the Taj (Obie Award; Atlantic Theater); As You Like It, The Fever Chart (The Public); Tumacho (Clubbed Thumb); Beast on the Moon (Century Center). Regional: American Hero (Williamstown), as well as work with The Long Wharf, ACT, Magic Theatre, Campo Santo and others. Film: Rendition (Chopard Trophy, Cannes Film Festival), Non-Stop, Munich, Miral, Complete Unknown, Breakable You, among others. TV: Vik on The Affair, Mr. Robot, The Slap, Dig, Fringe, The Good Wife, Grey's Anatomy, Virtuality, Harry's Law. Education: MFA from the American Conservatory Theater. 

Arian Moayed (Babur) is a Tony nominated actor, an arts educator, an award winning writer/director, and an Artistic Director of Waterwell. Notable theater includes: Tony Award Winning The Humans (Drama Desk Award), Guards at the Taj (Obie), and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Tony nom., Drama League nom., Theater World Award). With numerous credits in film and television some highlights include working alongside Bill Murray in Rock the Kasbah (dir Barry Levinson), Rosewater with Jon Stewart, and a recurring role on Madam Secretary. With Waterwell, a company he co-founded with Tom Ridgely in 2002, Mr. Moayed has helped devise numerous original productions including Hamlet (Sheen Center), Blueprint Specials (Public), GOODBAR (Public Theater) and The|King|Operetta (Barrow Street). Through the Waterwell Drama Program, Mr. Moayed administers one of the best public school arts programs in the country as part of the Waterwell Drama Program. With hundreds of students from all economic backgrounds, WDP partners with the Professional Performing Arts School, offering 6-12th graders in New York City the highest quality theater training in the country absolutely free of charge. As a filmmaker and partner of Waterwell Films, Mr. Moayed is currently in post-production for his thriller TV series called The Accidental Wolf, starring Kelli O’Hara, Laurie Metcalf, Denis O’Hare, Amy Landecker and many more.

The Guards at the Taj production team includes Tim Mackabee (scenic design), Bobby Tilley (costume design), David Weiner (lighting design), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (sound design and original music) and Matt Hawkins (Fight Choreographer). Additional credits include Briana Jo Fahey (stage manager), Cassie Calderone (assistant stage manager), JC Clementz (casting director) and Aaron Carter (artistic producer).

Location: Upstairs Theatre, 1650 Halsted St
Dates: May 31 – July 22, 2018
Previews: May 31 – June 10, 2018
Press Performances: Monday, June 11 at 7:30pm  and Wednesday, June 13 at 7:30pm

Opening: June 11, 2018
Regular Run: June 13 – July 22, 2018
Accessible Performances:
American Sign Language Interpretation: Sunday, June 24 at 7:30pm
Open Captioning: Saturday, June 23 at 3pm
Audio Description and Touch Tour: Sunday, July 8 at 1:30pm
Curtain Times: Tuesday – Friday at 7:30pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm and 7:30pm

Ticket prices:
Previews: $20 – $54, Regular Run: $20 – $89. Prices subject to change
20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available for subscription shows on the day of the performance at 11am (Mon – Sat) and 1pm (Sun), 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: Limited $15 student tickets are available online. (Limit 2 tickets. Must present a valid student ID for each ticket). For additional student discounts, visit

Group Tickets: All groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance.

Black Card Memberships are for audiences interested in extreme flexibility. Cards include six tickets for use any time, for any production including the LookOut Series. The tickets are valid for one year with the option to add additional tickets as needed. Perks include easy and free exchanges, access to seats before the general public, savings on single ticket prices and bar and restaurant discounts for pre- and post-show socializing.

Red Card Memberships are available for theaterrgoers under 30.

More info at

Audience Services:
For tickets or more information, contact Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St) at 312-335-1650 or

Remaining 2017/18 Season
Next up is The Doppelgänger (an international farce) by Matthew-Lee Erlbach, directed by ensemble member Tina Landau (April 05 – May 27); followed by Guards at the Taj by Rajiv Joseph (May 31 – June 22, 2018); and The Roommate by Jen Silverman, directed by Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show, A Raisin In The Sun, Tracy Letts’s August: Osage County). In The Roommate a comically mismatched pair of roommates leads to a surprising and touching friendship (June 21 – August 5, 2018).

Visitor Information
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.

Sponsor Information
United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Steppenwolf.

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 is 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.

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 programing includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. 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,, and   

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