Steep Theatre Announces 18th Season

Steep Theatre Announces 18th Season

Steep Theatre is thrilled to announce the programming for its upcoming 18th season, which will continue the company's tradition of presenting bold plays from today's most exciting playwrights, brought to life by fearless ensembles and visionary directors. Season 18 features a world premiere from lauded Chicago playwright Ike Holter, Chicago debut productions from internationally-acclaimed writers Amelia Roper and Rita Kalnejais, and a highly anticipated production from Alistair McDowall, the exciting voice behind Steep's 2015 hit Brilliant Adventures. Steep Ensemble Members Brad DeFabo Akin, Jonathan Berry, and Robin Witt are slated to direct.

"These playwrights are four of the most distinctive and thrilling voices in theater right now and I'm grateful for the opportunity to bring their work and their utterly unique worlds to life in our theater," said Artistic Director Peter Moore. "This season is going to be a wild ride from start to finish and I am equal parts excited and terrified - in just the right way."

The season kicks off in October with the Midwest premiere of Zürich, by Amelia Roper, directed by Steep Ensemble Member Brad DeFabo Akin. Zürich premiered this past spring in New York to rave reviews and was Critics' Pick in The New York Times, TimeOut, and The New Yorker. Roper is a Los Angeles-based playwright and screenwriter who is currently working on the Netflix/Jenji Kohan show GLOW. Director DeFabo Akin has delivered notable Steep productions Hinter, strangers, babies, Book of Days, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and The Few.

In January, Steep Ensemble Member Jonathan Berry returns to Steep to direct the world premiere of Ike Holter's Red Rex, the sixth play in Holter's seven-play "Rightlynd Saga" about Chicago, which Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune said "might just be one of the most significant literary achievements in modern-day Chicago." Since the 2012 production of his Hit the Wall, Holter's work has gained increasing attention. He was the 2017 winner of the Windham-Campbell Prize and his plays have been produced in New York at Barrow Street and Cherry Lane Theatre, at The Lily Tomlin Center in Los Angeles, and in Chicago at A Red Orchid, The Inconvenience, Jackalope, and Steppenwolf. Lottery Day, the final play in the "Rightlynd Saga," will premiere in the Spring of 2019 at The Goodman Theatre. Steep Ensemble Member Jonathan Berry has been at the helm of many of the company's most memorable shows, including the recent smash-hit production of Simon Stephens' Birdland.

In April, Steep will produce Midwest premiere of Rita Kalnejais' First Love is the Revolution. Though Kalnejais' writing has been produced extensively in Australia for the better part of the last decade and her work has been taking London by storm of late, Steep's production will mark her Chicago debut as a playwright. First Love is the Revolution premiered at Soho Theatre in London 2015 to much acclaim and her play This Beautiful Future premiered at The Yard in London in 2017, to critical accolades across the board.

Steep Ensemble Member Robin Witt will close out the company's 18th season with Alistair McDowall's Pomona. McDowall was the playwright behind Steep's 2015 hit Brilliant Adventures, which marked his U.S debut and was also directed by Witt. His work has been produced extensively, including productions at the Royal Court, the National Theatre, and the Royal Exchange, among many other theaters. McDowall is a Bruntwood Prize winner and was recently named recipient of the 2018 Pinter Commission from the Royal Court. Robin Witt is a longtime director at Steep whose work includes the currently running Linda and the hit of 2017, Cordelia Lynn's Lela & Co, which won 2018 Jeff Awards for Best Director, Best Production, and Best Performer in a Principal Role.

In addition to its mainstage productions, Steep Theatre will collaborate with Chicago Sinfonietta on the Chicago premiere of Ellis Island: The Dream of America. Chicago Sinfonietta Musical Director Maestro Mei-Ann Chen will conduct the piece, which brings to life the immigrant experience through the stories of those who lived it, told by seven actors, video projections, and Peter Boyer's beautiful score. Steep Ensemble Member George Cederquist will direct the acting portion of this epic piece. The multimedia program, I.D.: Images of Diversity kicks off the Chicago Sinfonietta's 2018-2019 season with performances on Saturday, September 22 at 8 p.m. at Wentz Concert Hall at North Central College, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville, and Monday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

Ongoing cabaret performances will continue year-round in Steep's new lounge venue, The Boxcar, nestled right next door to Steep's Edgewater theatre. A performance and event calendar is available online at

Season 18

By Amelia Roper
Directed by Brad DeFabo Akin
October 4 - November 10, 2018
A Midwest Premiere
Forty floors up, behind the windows of a posh Swiss hotel, a man sings, a maid cleans, children run wild, a banker makes things difficult, and one elderly woman's fight against a corrupt world order changes everything. Or nothing. Disturbingly funny, Amelia Roper's Zürich dives below the surface of lives lived in the moments before.

Red Rex
By Ike Holter
Directed by Jonathan Berry
January 24 - March 2, 2019
A World Premiere
A small theater company moves into an abandoned Chicago storefront. Lead by their adventurously thirsty artistic director, they embark on an explosive new play with the hope of finally breaking it big. When the ensemble realizes their source material might not be as original as once assumed, they are thrust into an intense confrontation with residents of their new community, who not only want them out, but will take their story back by any means necessary. Red Rex is the sixth play in Ike Holter's seven-part "Rightlynd saga", which also includes Exit Strategy, Prowess, and The Wolf at the End of the Block.

First Love is the Revolution
By Rita Kalnejais

April 18 - May 25, 2019
A Midwest Premiere
Basti is having a rough go of it without his mom and Rdeca is struggling just to make her first kill. But when this 14 year-old boy and this young fox connect, the world just seems to make a whole lot more sense. Rita Kalnejais' First Love is the Revolution is a wild take on the timeless tale of star-crossed lovers - from different sides of the animal kingdom.

By Alistair McDowall
Directed by Robin Witt

July 18 - August 24, 2019
When Ollie's sister goes missing her search leads her to Pomona - a bleak, concrete island in the middle of a scarred city. Part thriller, part fantastical puzzle, Alistair McDowall's Pomona twists and turns its way into the dark heart of a world built on pain and suffering and asks the question - is it even possible to be good anymore?

About The Artists

Amelia Roper

Amelia is an award-winning Australian/American playwright and screenwriter, living in LA, where she works on the Netflix/Jenji Kohan show GLOW and develops TV and film for American and Aussie audiences. Her plays have been seen at New York Theatre Workshop produced by Colt Coeur, Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actor's Theatre of Louisville, the Old Vic in London, Taffety Punk in DC, Square Product in Boulder, Prelude Festival in NYC, San Francisco, Sydney, Melbourne, and Moscow in Russian translation. She's writing for Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Marin Theatre Company, The Rose and an adaptation of Jane Bowles' queer, modernist novel, Two Serious Ladies for Yale Rep. Her latest play Zürich opened at New York Theatre Workshop, produced by Colt Coeur, to rave reviews and Critics Pick in The New York Times, TimeOut, and The New Yorker. Showcase and developments include the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, BLACK SWAN Lab at OSF, Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor, Kennedy Center in DC, Playwrights Realm in NYC, New Group NYC and The MacDowell Colony. Published plays include Big Sky Town, Camberwell House and She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange with an introduction by Sarah Ruhl. New plays include Everything is Nice, a futuristic comedy about climate change, and A Duck on a Bike, an autobiographical comedy about grief. As an activist, she works with Gloria Steinem, Hollywood's Time'sUp movement and 5050by2020 with Jill Soloway. She is represented by CAA and Management 360 and has an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama.

Brad DeFabo Akin
Zürich marks the ninth show Brad DeFabo Akin has directed at Steep, where he has been an ensemble member since 2005. Past Steep directing credits: Book of Days, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Insignificance, Greensboro: A Requiem, Under the Blue Sky, strangers, babies, The Few, and the world premiere of Calamity West's Hinter. Outside of Steep, his Chicago directing credits include: The Orchestra (Akvavit Theatre), Crimes of the Heart (Step Up Productions), Edgar & Annabel (Poor Theatre), The Revenants (WildClaw Theatre), OOHRAH! (LiveWire Theatre), and Where We're Born (Steppenwolf Garage). Brad served as Steep's Literary Manager for 11 years, helping to cultivate the company's relationship with new playwrights, developing relationships with MFA playwriting programs, and supporting the development of three world premieres at Steep - including Calamity West's Hinter. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Step Up Chicago Playwrights, where he supports the work of local playwrights in telling the story of our city.

Ike Holter
Ike Holter is a 2017 winner of the Windham-Campbell Prize, one of the highest awards for writing in the world. Resident playwright at Victory Gardens, commissioned by The Kennedy Center, South Coast Rep and The Playwrights' Center, his work's been produced around the country in spaces like Off Broadway at Barrow Street and Cherry Lane, The Lily Tomlin Center in Los Angeles, and A Red Orchid, The Inconvenience, Jackalope and Steppenwolf in Chicago. He's the Artistic Director of The Roustabouts, and a writer for the new FX television show, Fosse/Verdon.

Jonathan Berry
Steep Ensemble Member Jonathan Berry is a director and teacher in Chicago and is the Artistic Producer at Steppenwolf Theatre. His Steep productions include Simon Stephens' Birdland, Mike Bartlett's Earthquakes in London, Laura Wade's Posh, Ross Dungan's The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle, Nick Payne's If There Is I Haven't Found it Yet, John Donnelly's The Knowledge, David Eldridge's Festen, Deirdre Kinahan's Moment, Howard Korder's The Hollow Lands and Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. For Steppenwolf, he directed Clare Barron's You Got Older, Nick Payne's Constellations, the SYA production of The Crucible, the SYA production of A Separate Peace, the world premiere of Melinda Lopez's Gary, and the staged reading of Suicide, Incorporated, which he later directed at The Gift Theatre. He was also the Assistant Director for Anna D Shapiro's Broadway productions of Of Mice and Men and This is Our Youth. Jonathan is also an Artistic Associate with Griffin Theatre, where his productions include Samuel D Hunter's Pocatello, Odets' Golden Boy, Miller/Tysen's The Burnt Part Boys, Sheik/Sater's Spring Awakening, the North American premieres of Simon Stephens' Punk Rock (Jeff award Director, Lead Actor, and Ensemble) Port, and On the Shore of the Wide World, Stephen Sondheim's Company, William Inge's Picnic, JB Priestely's Time and the Conways, Sidney Kingsley's Dead End, Brendan Behan's The Hostage and R.C. Sheriff's Journey's End. At the Gift Theatre, he has directed the world premieres of both Dirty and Suicide, Incorporated by Andrew Hinderaker, as well as Will Nedved's 6. His Goodman Theatre productions include The Solid Sand Below and The World of Extreme Happiness for their New Stages Festival. His other work includes Redtwist's Look Back in Anger and Reverb; Chicago Dramatists' I am Going to Change the World; Jackalope Theatre's The Casuals; Strawdog's Conversations on a Homecoming, Remy Bumppo's The Marriage of Figaro; Theatre Mir's Bond's The Sea and Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle, and Lifeline Theater's The Piano Tuner (Afterdark award - Best Production).

Rita Kalnejais
Rita Kalnejais is a London-based writer. Her work has been performed extensively in Australia and she was a resident playwright at Sydney Theatre Company in 2011/12. Rita's first play, BC, directed by Simon Stone, had a sell-out season at Melbourne Arts Centre's Black Box in 2009. Her short plays, Whistling in Bed and How To Get Very Clean were performed at Sydney Theatre Company in 2010 and 2011. In 2012 her play Babyteeth had a successful season at Belvoir Theatre and was produced and performed by the State Theatre Company of South Australia the following year. It was optioned for film by WhiteFalk Films with Rita as screenwriter and starts production in December 2018 with Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis attached. Rita was one of the Soho 6 in 2014, during which she wrote First Love Is The Revolution, which played at the Soho Theatre in October, 2015. Her most recent play This Beautiful Future opened at the Yard Theatre in 2017 and returned later that year for a second run. She is under commission from Bell Shakespeare Company and Belvoir Theatre in Australia as well writing a co-commission for the National Theatre and the Kenyon Institute, Ohio.

Alistair McDowall
Alistair McDowall grew up in the North East of England. Plays include: Zero for the Young Dudes! (National Theatre Connections 2017); X (Royal Court Theatre 2016); Pomona (RWCMD/Gate 2014; Orange Tree Theatre/Royal Exchange/National Theatre 2014/5); Talk Show (Royal Court Theatre 2013); Brilliant Adventures (Royal Court Young Writers' Festival 2012; Royal Exchange, Manchester and Live Theatre, Newcastle 2013); and Captain Amazing (Live Theatre, Newcastle and Edinburgh Fringe 2013; UK tour 2014). He was the recipient of the Harold Pinter Commission in 2018. His work has been translated and produced internationally.

Robin Witt
Steep Ensemble Member Robin Witt has been at the helm for many of Steep's most successful UK imports, including Penelope Skinner's Linda, Cordelia Lynn's Lela & Co., Simon Stephens' Wastwater, Motortown, Pornography, and Harper Regan; Alistair McDowall's Brilliant Adventures, Dennis Kelly's Love and Money; Jez Butterworth's Parlour Song; and Laura Wade's Breathing Corpses. Her Harper Regan is still the best-selling show in Steep history and was named one of the Top Ten shows of 2010 by both the Chicago Tribuneand Timeout Chicago, and her Breathing Corpses was named one of TimeOut's Top Ten Shows of 2008. In addition to directing numerous productions at Steep, Robin is also an ensemble member of Griffin Theatre Company where she has directed Ferber and Kaufman's Stage Door, Terrence Rattigan's Flare Path, Ena Lamont Stewart's Men Should Weep, and John Van Druten's London Wall. Her production of Lela & Co. received 2018 Jeff Awards for Best Director, Best Production, and Best Performer in a Principal Role. Witt received the 2015 and 2016 Jeff Awards for Best Director for Men Should Weep and London Wall, and was nominated in 2014 for Flare Path. Her productions have been cited as "Best of the Year" by the Chicago Tribune, TimeOut Chicago, and Chicago Reader. She has worked at a variety of Chicago area theatres including The Goodman, A Red Orchid, and Steppenwolf. Robin recently directed Juliet: A Dialogue About Love for sacred playground theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts (BFA) and Northwestern University (MFA). Robin is an Assistant Professor at UNC Charlotte.

About Steep Theatre
Housed in what was once a small grocery store, steps from the Berwyn Red Line stop, and lead by an ensemble of 41 actors, directors, designers, writers, and other theatre artists, Steep is the quintessential storefront theatre. Described by Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune as "a storefront theater known for the power of its acting," Steep creates powerful productions of plays by today's most exciting writers and features the work of Chicago's hottest theatre artists in an intimate, accessible space. Currently in its 17th season, Steep is known as a home for hard-hitting, finely tuned ensemble work. With each production, the company has shepherded a growing community of audiences and artists into bold new territories of story and performance.

Steep Theatre is conveniently located by the Berwyn Red Line stop and is within blocks of the #92, #36, #146, #147, and #151 buses.

Steep Theatre
1115 West Berwyn, Chicago, IL 60640

Season Tickets: $90
General Admission Tickets: $27
Reserved Seat Tickets: $38
Access Tickets: $10 (Steep's universal discount for students, artists, whomever)
(773) 649-3186

Twitter: @SteepTheatre
Facebook: SteepTheatre

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