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Steppenwolf Postpones Planned 20/21 Production of LAST NIGHT AND THE NIGHT BEFORE & Launches Virtual Stage

Steppenwolf NOW features six breakthrough stories written by America’s most talented voices and available from anywhere in the world.

Steppenwolf Postpones Planned 20/21 Production of LAST NIGHT AND THE NIGHT BEFORE & Launches Virtual Stage

Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced today it will postpone the 20/21 planned production of Donnetta Lavinia Grays's Last Night and the Night Before to a future season due to extended public health concerns related to COVID-19. While disheartened to delay the return to the physical stage, the storytelling remains as alive as ever with the first production of six on the Steppenwolf NOW virtual stage launching today. Audiences will be tuning into the iconic Chicago theater from more than 300 cities, 41 states and 12 countries and counting.

"When we entered into this season we knew it would be an unusual one. As restrictions have kept our stages dark this fall, it might come as no surprise but with no less heartache that we need to postpone the 2020/21 planned production of Last Night and the Night Before by Donnetta Lavinia Grays to a future season. While we eagerly await the return to the stage, we are thrilled by the reception to Steppenwolf NOW, our virtual programming stream-what a true gift to be able to connect with more people and students across the globe than we ever imagined. This new platform also allows us to deepen our relationships with so many groundbreaking artists, including Donnetta, whose incredible one-woman show, Where We Stand is part of the virtual lineup and will feature Donnetta herself!

We are a Chicago theatre company-we don't break in tough times, we create, we evolve, we build. Steppenwolf has discovered new innovative ways of storytelling and community building that will continue long after we're back on the stage. One of things that can be hard about theater is how few people it can reach, yet in this moment of isolation theater makers are embracing the opportunity to connect the world and each other, and we are all the better for it," shares Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro.

Steppenwolf NOW features six breakthrough stories written by America's most talented voices and available from anywhere in the world. First up on the Steppenwolf NOW stage is the world premiere of What Is Left, Burns by James Ijames and directed by Whitney White, now available for members to stream through August 31, 2021.

Ensemble members K. Todd Freeman (Downstate, Airline Highway - Tony Award nomination) and Jon Michael Hill (Spike Lee's Pass Over, Superior Donuts - Tony Award nomination) star in What Is Left, Burns as two poets and former lovers who wade through the connection they once had as they struggle with the desires that still bind them. Featuring original music by Justin Ellington and Photography and Video Design by Lowell Thomas, this stunning play uncovers a deep level of intimacy on this new virtual platform. Press are welcome to review; RSVP at this link to receive a login to stream the production. Watch the video trailer below! More information at steppenwolf.org/whatisleftburns.

Access and Reach

Virtual programming offers the unique and incredible opportunity to connect with theatre lovers, families, students and communities across the globe in new ways. Steppenwolf is deeply appreciative of the brave workers worldwide who continue to keep our communities healthy, engaged and functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a token of gratitude, Steppenwolf is offering $25 off a Steppenwolf NOW virtual membership to all essential workers, including artists. Essential workers and professions can include, but are not limited to Healthcare Providers, Arts Workers (artists, industry professionals and arts administrators across all genres), Paramedics, Child Caregivers, Food and Agriculture (Grocery, Farming, Distribution), Social Services (Public servants offering critical services), Critical Retail (Pharmacies, Mechanics), City Workers (Water, Waste, Sanitation, Public Transportation, Construction) and USPS Employees. Discounted memberships can be claimed by calling the Audience Services team at 312-335-1650. More information at steppenwolf.org/memberships/essential-worker-discount/.

"It is a privilege to expand our audience and cultivate a new generation of storytelling enthusiasts through Steppenwolf NOW," Executive Director E. Brooke Flanagan shares. "The impact has been exhilarating-in one month Steppenwolf Education has brought George Orwell's Animal Farm to more than 21,000 students, which is three times the number served with one live production; and our virtual stage is welcoming first-time Steppenwolf attendees in 12 countries and counting. We are truly grateful for the continued support of our Board, donors and loyal 20/21 season members whose commitment makes this groundbreaking work possible. With our new theater-in-the-round and education building opening in Fall 2021, it lifts our spirits to know we can bring these new practices and relationships with us as we literally open the doors of our organization's next chapter."

While Steppenwolf continues to follow guidelines from local health officials, the remaining lineup of the season includes an adaptation of Erika L. Sánchez's award-winning novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Isaac Gómez, Choir Boy by ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney and Seagull by Anton Chekhov, translated and adapted by ensemble member Yasen Peyankov; the dates remain in flux with hopes of staging these productions should conditions allow.

George Orwell's Animal Farm for Schools

Steppenwolf for Young Adults' Radio Play Production Reaches 21,000 Students

Streaming began October 19th for Steppenwolf for Young Adults' original radio play production of George Orwell's Animal Farm and is currently reaching more than 21,000 students and teachers worldwide. The radio play is available via captions, American Sign Language and Spanish-language transcript. Accompanying the production is an interactive study guide (access here), featuring interviews, lesson plans and more.

All are welcome to attend a free virtual panel discussion, "Animal Farm, The Radio Play: Creatives in Conversation," Saturday, November 14 from 3-4:30pm CST. The Steppenwolf Young Adult Council interviews the cast to uncover behind-the-scenes stories and insights on how this production speaks to our current moment. RSVP here.

Since March, Steppenwolf Education has hosted dozens of free virtual workshops, which are archived and available at steppenwolf.org/education.

Half Hour: The Steppenwolf Podcast

Half Hour is a Steppenwolf Theatre produced interview-style podcast that uses the most magical amount of time there is in the theatre-the half hour before a show begins-to sit down and make connections between artists in the Steppenwolf family and beyond. With more than 10,000 downloads since its launch in April 2021, the first season wrapped up on October 20 with an episode featuring ensemble member Carrie Coon (The Leftovers, Fargo, The Sinner). Listen at steppenwolf.org/halfhour and on all podcast platforms. Season two will debut in winter 2021.

Steppenwolf NOW Virtual Stage Lineup

Productions will be released throughout the year and members are able to stream all Steppenwolf NOW content through August 31, 2021.

What Is Left, Burns

Written by James Ijames

Directed by Whitney White

Featuring ensemble members K. Todd Freeman and Jon Michael Hill

Streaming November 2020

Run time: 20 minutes

Two poets separated by age and distance engage in a video call rendezvous after fifteen years. Keith, a distinguished poet and professor of literature is moving towards retirement after a recent divorce from his wife. Ronnie, his younger former lover and mentee, has a New York Times bestselling book and a burgeoning career ahead of him. The two men wade through the connection they once had as they struggle with the desires that still bind them.

What Is Left, Burns creative team features Justin Ellington (Sound Design & Original Music), Joel Moorman (Creative Director), Lowell Thomas (Director of Photography & Video Editor), JC Clementz and Leelai Demoz (Artistic Producers), Claire Haupt (Production Manager), JC Clementz (Casting Director), Laura D. Glenn (Stage Manager) and Christine D. Freeburg (Assistant Stage Manager).

James Ijames and Whitney White are the same team behind The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington, which had to postpone its Steppenwolf debut this past April due to the pandemic. More info on What Is Left, Burns at steppenwolf.org/whatisleftburns.

Wally World

By Isaac Gómez
Co-directed by Isaac Gómez and Lili-Anne Brown
Featuring ensemble members Cliff Chamberlain, Audrey Francis, Sandra Marquez and Karen Rodriguez with Danny Bernardo, Sydney Charles, Kevin Curtis, Leslie Sophia Perez, Marvin Quijada and Jacqueline Williams
Streaming December 2020
Run time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

It's Christmas Eve and a group of Wally World employees are about to lose it. On the one day of the year the mega-department superstore is supposed to close its doors, secrets come to life that may destroy more than their holiday cheer. Their manager Andy is doing everything in her power to keep her store in line and her employees in check. But can hard truths from her past ruin everything she's ever worked for? Wally World is a festive, poignant examination of finding magic in the mundane as ten employees do everything they can to find purpose in a place that has never seen purpose in them.

Red Folder

By ensemble member Rajiv Joseph
Featuring ensemble member Carrie Coon
Streaming January 2021
Run time: 10 minutes

The red folder belongs to a first grader. It is the source of all his woes. Years later, he seeks vengeance.

Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!

By Vivian J.O. Barnes

Directed by Weyni Mengesha
Streaming February 2021
Run time: 35 minutes

A Royal Wedding is looming. The Duchess and The Soon-to-be-Duchess are meeting face to face for the first time to go over everything you ever needed to know to become a duchess. There are rules. There's a way of doing things. Remember, everybody is watching. And you don't want to know what happens if you step out of line. Duchess! Duchess! Duchess! looks at the hidden costs of being the "luckiest girl in the world."

Where We Stand

By Donnetta Lavinia Grays
Directed by Tamilla Woodard
Featuring Donnetta Lavinia Grays
Streaming April 2021
Run time: 70 minutes

What does community mean? And what do we owe to one another? When a man who has been shunned by his town makes a deal on behalf of it with a mysterious stranger, he must stand before his community to ask for forgiveness in hopes that they might answer these enduring questions as they determine his fate. Through poetic verse and music, this work challenges our capacity to forgive and our ideas of mercy and who might deserve it.

Ages of the Moon

By Sam Shepard
Directed by ensemble member Ian Barford
Featuring ensemble members Randall Arney and William Petersen
Streaming June 2021
Run time: 55 minutes

Byron and Ames are old friends, reunited by mutual desperation on a hot summer day. As day turns into night and the bourbon keeps flowing, they sit, reflect and bicker about fifty years of love, friendship and their rivalry.



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