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Steep Theatre Announces Seventeenth Season


Steep Theatre Announces Seventeenth Season

Steep Theatre Company is thrilled to announce the programming for its upcoming 17th season, which continues the company's tradition of presenting bold plays from today's most exciting playwrights, brought to life by fearlessly honest ensembles and visionary directors. Season 17 will feature a Chicago premiere from Pulitzer Prize-winner Ayad Akhtar, a world premiere from Kilroy-cited, Chicago playwright CalamiTy West, a U.S. premiere from Tony and Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens, and a Midwest premiere from Olivier Award nominee Penelope Skinner. Steep Ensemble Members Brad DeFabo Akin, Jonathan Berry, and Robin Witt and Steppenwolf Ensemble Member Audrey Francis are slated to direct.

"I don't know what excites me more: the line-up of playwrights or the line-up of directors. It's a lovely problem to have," said Artistic Director Peter Moore. "They are some of the essential voices of right here and right now, and we're honored to provide a home for them this coming season."

The season kicks off in October with the Chicago premiere of The Invisible Hand, by Ayad Akhtar, directed by Audrey Francis. Akhtar won the Pulitzer Prize for his play Disgraced, which premiered in 2012 at American Theatre Company in Chicago and later played on Broadway. The Invisible Hand opened at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, followed by productions at the New York Theatre Workshop and the Tricycle Theatre in London. The New York production earned Akhtar an OBIE Award for Playwriting and the Tricycle production scored an Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement. This production will mark Ms. Francis' Steep directorial debut. She is both a Steppenwolf Ensemble Member and a co-founder of Black Box Acting and has directed with Chicago Dramatists, First Floor Theatre, and Pinebox Theatre.

In January, Steep Ensemble Member Brad DeFabo Akin returns to Steep to direct the world premiere of CalamiTy West's Hinter. West has quickly emerged as an important Chicago playwright, with recent acclaimed productions of her works Rolling (Jackalope Theatre) and Give It All Back (Sideshow Theatre). Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune dubbed West "the real deal" and "one of this city's most exciting new voices."DeFabo Akin has delivered notable Steep productions strangers, babies, Book of Days, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and 2016's The Few.

Steep Ensemble Member Jonathan Berry will direct the U.S. premiere of Simon Stephens' Birdland in April. Stephens, who won a Tony and Olivier Award for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, is an Associate Playwright with Steep. This production will mark the fifth Steep-Stephens collaboration, which includes past hits Harper Regan, Pornography, Motortown, and 2016's Wastwater. Director Jonathan Berry has consistently delivered some of Steep's most notable shows, including Season 16's extended hit Earthquakes in London and Season 15's Posh, which won the Non-Equity Jeff Award for Best Ensemble and was nominated for Best Director and Best Production. He has also scored huge hits directing Simon Stephens' work with Griffin Theatre, including productions of Port, On the Shore of the Wide World, and Punk Rock, which won Jeff Awards for Best Director, Best Ensemble, and Best Featured Actor.

The U.S. premiere of Penelope Skinner's Linda, directed by Steep Ensemble Member Robin Witt will close out the company's 17th season. Robin Witt is a longtime director at Steep and has been in the director's chair for the some of the company's most memorable shows, including Simon Stephens' Motortown, Pornography, and Harper Regan; and Alistair McDowall's Brilliant Adventures. She won the 2015 and 2016 Jeff Award for Best Director for Griffin Theatre's Flare Path and London Wall. Linda premiered at the Royal Court in 2015 and at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2017.

The Invisible Hand
By Ayad Akhtar
Directed by Audrey Francis
October 5 - November 11, 2017
A Chicago Premiere
An American banker has been taken hostage by an isolated militant group in Pakistan. When his ransom goes unpaid, his only hope is to trade on his expertise in international finance to earn his way to freedom, whatever the cost. The Invisible Hand is a geo-political thriller from the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar.

By CalamiTy West
Directed by Brad DeFabo Akin
January 25 - March 3, 2018
A World Premiere
A gruesome murder scene has been discovered at the Gruber family's small farmstead, Hinterkaifeck. Set in 1922 Germany and inspired by real events, CalamiTy West's Hinter is a chilling tale about a family, a community, and the post-World War I socio-political climate by one of Chicago's most exciting new playwrights.

By Simon Stephens
Directed by Jonathan Berry
April 5 - May 12, 2018
A U.S. Premiere
Paul has attained rock stardom and all the spoils that go with it. As his world tour winds its way home, the rewards of his fame are quickly diminishing. Birdland is a sexy, searing exploration of empathy by Olivier and Tony Award winner Simon Stephens.

By Penelope Skinner
Directed by Robin Witt
July 12 - August 18, 2018
A Midwest Premiere
Linda Wilde is a titan - an award-winning executive of a beauty corporation with a brilliant new campaign up her sleeve. She's also a wife, a mother, and a woman "of a certain age," but her success in balancing family and career hasn't prepared her for the battle for visibility in a world focused on everlasting youth. Olivier Award nominee Penelope Skinner's Linda is a searingly funny portrait of a woman on the front lines of the fight for relevance.

About The Artists
Ayad Akhtar
Ayad Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a novelist and author of American Dervish, published in over 20 languages worldwide. His play Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, ran on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre, and was nominated for the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play. His plays The Who & The What and The Invisible Hand received Off-Broadway runs and are currently being produced around the world. Akhtar was listed as the most produced playwright for the 2015/16 Season by American Theatre magazine. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has received fellowships from MacDowell, Djerassi, The Sundance Institute, Ucross, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. He is also a Board Trustee at PEN/America and New York Theatre Workshop. Akhtar is currently the Resident Playwright with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.

Audrey Francis
Audrey Francis, an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre and co-founder of Black Box Acting, is working with Steep Theatre for the first time. Audrey has worked in Chicago as an actor, director, and teacher for over ten years. Theatre credits include: The Fundamentals, Between Riverside and Crazy, The Herd, Where We're Born, Life and Limb, Drunken City, Want (Steppenwolf Theatre); Kill Floor (American Theatre Company); Talking Pictures, The Actor (Goodman Theatre); Othello, Another Part of the Forest (Writer's Theatre); Awake and Sing! (Northlight Theatre). Television credits include: Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, ER, and Written Off. Film credits include: Signature Move, Dig Two Graves, Medal of Victory, Dustclouds, and Chicago Overcoat.. Directing credits include: Sexual Perversity in Chicago (First Floor Theatre); The Sugar Syndrome (Chicago Dramatists); The Sweetest Swing in Baseball (Step Up Productions); and Life and Limb and The Most Liquid Currency in the World (Pine Box Theatre). Audrey teaches at the School at Steppenwolf, DePaul Theatre School, the University of Chicago, and at The ACADEMY at Black Box Acting.

CalamiTy West
CalamiTy West is a Chicago-based, award-winning playwright. She is currently developing new plays with Steep Theatre Company and Jackalope Theatre Company. She has recently joined TimeLine Theatre Company's Playwrights Collective where she will be in residency for the next two years. Her full-length plays include: Hinter (2017); In The Canyon (2017); Tony Kushner Considers Writing A Gay Fantasia Based On National Themes (2017), Rolling (2016); Give It All Back (Kilroy-cited 2015); Ibsen is Dead (2014); The Peacock (2013, Kilroys honorable mention); The Gacy Play (2012); and Common Hatred (2012). Calamity is a company member of Jackalope Theatre Company and an artistic associate of Sideshow Theatre Company. She teaches playwriting at the University of Chicago.

Brad DeFabo Akin
Hinter marks the eighth show Brad DeFabo Akin has directed at Steep, where he's 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, and The Few. 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. Brad also has the honor of teaching North Carolina's best and brightest young minds every summer, as part of their Governor's School program.

Simon Stephens
Simon Stephens is an English playwright whose plays have been widely produced in the UK, Europe, Australia and the US. Having taught on the Young Writers' Programme at The Royal Court Theatre for many years, Stephens is now an Artistic Associate at the Lyric Hammersmith and has been an Associate Playwright of Steep Theatre since 2013. Aside from his Olivier and Tony Award for Best New Play in 2015, Stephens has many other critical acclaims to his name. He received The Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2006 for On the Shore of the Wide World, won Best New Play by the Critics' Award for Theatre in Scotland in 2008-9 for Pornography, One Minute won at the Tron Theatre Awards as Best New Play in 2003, and Port won the Pearson Award for Best New Play in 2001. Stephens' other work includes Bluebird; Herons; Port (Pearson Award for Best New Play); Country Music; 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; 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-time.

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 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 Nick Payne's Constellations, 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).

Penelope Skinner
Penelope Skinner's plays include The Village Bike (Royal Court Upstairs; 2011); The Sound of Heavy Rain (Paines Plough/Crucible Theatre Sheffield); Greenland (co-writer, National; 2011); The Literary Ball (co-writer, International Rough Cut, Royal Court; 2010); Eigengrau (Bush Theatre; 2010); Midnight at the Hotel Beauregard (Paines Plough / Rose Bruford College; 2010); Fucked (Old Red Lion; 2008 / Assembly Rooms Edinburgh; 2009). Television credits include: Fresh Meat - episode 3 (Objective Productions / Channel 4; 2011). She was a member of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme and was subsequently invited to join their Supergroup in 2009. She was also part of the Paines Plough Future Perfect Scheme in 2009/10 and on attachment to the National Theatre in 2010. She was the recipient of the 2011 George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright for The Village Bike.

Robin Witt
Steep Ensemble Member Robin Witt has been at the helm for many of Steep's most successful UK imports, including 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 Tribune and 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. 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 34 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 16th 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.

Tickets range from $10 to $38. Season tickets are available for $90. Reservations can be made by calling (773) 649-3186 or by visiting 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

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

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