Steep Theatre Opens 13th Season with Simon Stephens' MOTORTOWN Premiere Tonight
Steep Theatre Company's 13th Season will begin in grand fashion tonight, October 3rd with the North American Premiere of Motortown by Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens. The production will be directed by Steep Artistic Associate and two-time Jeff Nominated director Robin Witt. The Stephens-Witt playwright- director tandem has proven a winner in the past at Steep, resulting in two of the more memorable shows in recent Chicago theater history: Harper Regan and Pornography. Motortown will be the first Simon Stephens production in Chicago since he received the 2013 Olivier Award for Best New Play for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. The production is also Ms. Witt's first Steep offering since her 2012 hit production of Dennis Kelly's Love and Money.
Motortown premiered at London's Royal Court Theatre in 2006 and has since been produced throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia. Mr. Stephens wrote the piece in a span of four days in July of 2005 -- a turbulent four days that included not only the announcement of London's winning bid for the Summer Olympics, but the July 7th London bombings that killed 52 people and shook the city to its core. Motortown tells the story of Danny, a young "squaddie," who returns to the UK from a tour in Basra determined to win back his girlfriend. But what greets him on his homecoming batters Danny's already fragile pysche and sends him on a downward spiral of violence and anguish.
Mr. Stephens is a two-time Olivier award-winning playwright whose work has been produced extensively throughout the U.K., Europe, Australia and the U.S. Over the last few years, Steep has developed a special relationship with Mr. Stephens. He visited the company in 2012, during which time he performed a public reading of his piece Sea Wall, and Steep presented the first ever public reading of his play Blindsided, a new work commissioned by the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, England. Mr. Stephens' other work includes Bluebird; Herons; Port (Pearson Award for Best New Play); Country Music; On the Shore of the Wide World (Olivier Award for Best New Play); Harper Regan; Sea Wall; Pornography; Punk Rock; The Trial of Ubu; A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky written in collaboration with David Eldridge and Robert Holman; Marine Parade, a play with songs, written with Mark Eitzel; Wastwater; an adaptation of Jon Fosse's I am the Wind; Three Kingdoms; Morning; a new version of A Doll's House; and an adaptation of Mark Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night.
Director Robin Witt's credits with Steep include Dennis Kelly's Love and Money, Jez Butterworth's Parlour Song, Laura Wade's Breathing Corpses, and Simon Stephens' Pornography and Harper Regan. Harper Regan, Steep's first Stephens' production, was a landmark show for the company. It received rave reviews from virtually every avenue and ran for an unprecedented three months and 50 sold-out performances. The production shattered Steep's attendance record for a single production and a single season. Harper was named one of the top ten shows of 2010 by both the Chicago Tribune and Timeout Chicago. Ms. Witt has worked at a variety of Chicago area theatres including The Goodman, A Red Orchid, and Steppenwolf. She recently directed Juliet: A Dialogue About Love for sacred playground theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Ms. Witt is also an ensemble member of Griffin Theatre Company where she directed Stage Door and Flare Path.
Motortown will feature Steep Ensemble Members Alex Gillmor (Harper Regan, Moment), Peter Moore (Harper Regan, Pornography, Love and Money), Julia Siple (Harper Regan, Love and Money, Moment), and Kendra Thulin (Harper Regan - Jeff Award Best Actress, Pornography). They will be joined by guest artists Chris Chmelik, Ashleigh Lathrop, Joel Reitsma, and Eddie Reynolds. The production's Design Team includes Set Designer Dan Stratton (Love and Money, The Knowledge), Lighting Designer Sarah Hughey (Moment, Parlour Song), Costume Designer Alison Siple (Moment, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui), Sound Designer Matthew Chapman (Harper Regan, The Knowledge), Props Designer Catherine Campbell, and Makeup and Wig Designer Samantha Umstead (Fallow).