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Steppenwolf Theatre Presents the World Premiere Production of BLKS
Written by Aziza Barnes
Directed by Nataki Garrett
Featuring Ensemble Member Namir Smallwood
December 7, 2017 – January 28, 2018
Three friends. One f**ked up night. A whole lot of growing pains.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company presents the world premiere production of BLKS by award-winning poet and playwright Aziza Barnes and directed by Nataki Garrett. An uproarious and frank play, the acclaimed Chicago-based cast features ensemble member Namir Smallwood (Justin /Sosa/Pedro/Dominican Dude) with Leea Ayers (June), Nora Carroll (Octavia), Celeste Cooper (Imani), Danielle Davis (Ry) and Kelly O’Sullivan (That Bitch on the Couch/White Woman).
BLKS begins previews December 7, 2017, opening night is December 18 and the production runs through January 28, 2018 in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St. Press performances are Monday, December 18 at 6pm and Wednesday, December 20 at 7:30pm; Single tickets ($20-$89) are available at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.
F**ked up sh*t happens. After an unsavory wake-up call, Octavia decides to put off her troubles and have one last turn up with her friends. In poet Aziza Barnes’s ingenious portrait of a day in the life of four young black women discovering life’s uncomfortable truths in New York City, BLKS explores the joy and anguish of growing up and out. Riotously funny and distinctly rendered, Barnes’s playwriting debut marks the arrival of a truly original contemporary American voice.
“BLKS is a self-portrait of me and my best friends in our cripplingly early 20s. So, a bunch of painful absurdity, that whenever I sit down to edit the latest draft reveals more to me than I can imagine or even am ready for. BLKS for me is emotionally rigorous and delightful because I’m constantly laughing with the person I was and am, and the jokes me and my kin tell each other,” shares Aziza Barnes.
Aziza Barnes is the winner of the 2015 Pamet River Prize for Aziza’s first full length collection i be but i ain’t, from YesYes Books 2016. Barnes is a Cave Canem Fellow and co-host of the popular podcast, The Poetry Gods. Z is a graduate of New York University and participant in the 2016 Ojai Playwrights Conference.
Nataki Garrett was named in American Theatre Magazine’s “One to Watch” and is the Associate Artistic Director of Denver Center for the Performing Arts, a Company Member at Woolly Mammoth and co-Artistic Director of BLANK THE DOG PRODUCTIONS (BTD). Most recently for BTD she directed Carolyn Bryant, which focuses on the decades-long silence of the woman for whom Emmett Till was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955. Garrett directed An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Woolly Mammoth, which was remounted in July.
The BLKS production team includes Sibyl Wickersheimer (scenic design), Trevor Bowen (costume design), Marcus Doshi (lighting design), Rasean Davonte Johnson (projection design), T. Carlis Roberts (sound design & original music) and Gigi Buffington (Company Vocal Coach). Additional credits include Malcolm Ewen (stage manager), Cassie Calderone (assistant stage manager), JC Clementz (casting director) and Anna D. Shapiro (artistic producer).
Location: Upstairs Theatre, 1650 Halsted St
Dates: December 7, 2017 – January 28, 2018 Previews: December 7 - 17
Press Performances: Monday, December 18 at 6pm and Wednesday, December 20 at 7:30pm
Opening: December 18
Regular Run: December 20, 2017 – January 28, 2018
Accessible Performances: American Sign Language Interpretation:
Sunday, January 7 at 7:30pm
Open Captioning: Saturday, January 6 at 3pm
Audio Description and Touch Tour: Sunday, January 14 at 1:30pm touch tour; 3pm audio-described performance
Curtain Times: Tuesday – Friday at 7:30pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm and 7:30pm
Ticket prices and offers: Previews: $20 – $54, Regular Run: $20 – $89. Prices subject to change 20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available on the day of the performance at 11am (Mon – Sat) and 1pm (Sun) by phone only at 312-335-1650. Limit 2 per person.
Pay Your Age: Available for preview performances December 7-17, 2017
Industry Tuesdays: $20 Industry tickets offered on Tuesdays
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) steppenwolf.org/students.
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 with six tickets for use any time for any production. Credits 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 theatergoers under 30.
Audience Services: To purchase a membership or tickets or for more information, contact Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St) at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.
Visitor Information & Accessibility
Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N Halsted St near all forms of public transportation and is wheelchair accessible. The parking facility consists of both a covered garage ($12 cash or card) and an open-air lot, located just south of our theater at 1624 N Halsted. Valet parking service ($14 cash) is available directly in front of the main entrance at 1650 N Halsted St starting at 5pm on weeknights, 1pm on weekends and at 12 noon before Wednesday matinees. 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. With the expertise of Assistive Hearing Systems Ltd., Steppenwolf installed an induction loop on both the main and balcony levels of our Downstairs Theatre in 2015. There is also an induction hearing loop installed in the 1700 Theatre and the Downstairs Theatre.
Now playing in Steppenwolf’s 42nd season is The Rembrandt, a Chicago premiere by Jessica Dickey, directed by Hallie Gordon (through Nov 11, 2017); followed by The Minutes, a world premiere by ensemble member Tracy Letts, directed by Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro (Nov 9 – Dec 31, 2017); BLKS, a world premiere by Aziza Barnes, directed by Nataki Garrett (Dec 7 – Jan 28, 2018); You Got Older, a Chicago premiere by Clare Barron, directed by Artistic Producer Jonathan Berry (Jan 25 – March 11, 2018); The Doppelgänger (an international farce), a world premiere by Matthew-Lee Erlbach, directed by ensemble member Tina Landau (April 5 – May 27, 2018); Guards at the Taj, a Chicago premiere by Rajiv Joseph, directed by ensemble member Amy Morton (May 31 – July 22, 2018); and The Roommate, a Chicago premiere by Jen Silverman, directed by Phylicia Rashad (June 21 – August 5, 2018).
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. www.front-bar.com
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble of 49 members represent 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 steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.