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Steppenwolf Theatre Company Announces 2018/19 Season, A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2, TRUE WEST, and More

Steppenwolf Theatre Company Announces 2018/19 Season, A DOLL'S HOUSE PART 2, TRUE WEST, and More

Steppenwolf Theatre Company Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro and Executive Director David Schmitz proudly unveiled today the 2018/19 Season. Featuring seven productions, the world-renowned, Chicago-based company kicks off its 43rd season with Pulitzer Prize-winning ensemble member Bruce Norris's new play, Downstate, in a co-production with The National Theatre of Great Britain where it will move after its Steppenwolf run. Pam MacKinnon, who won the Tony Award for her direction of Steppenwolf's revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, returns to direct Downstate, featuring ensemble members K. Todd Freeman, Francis Guinan and Tim Hopper.

Steppenwolf's production of Downstate is made possible in part due to a major grant from The Roy Cockrum Foundation, which enables theaters to reach beyond their normal scope and undertake ambitious and creative productions.

Ensemble member and Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight, The Brother/Sister Plays) will be reunited with ensemble memberTina Landau (SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, Head of Passes) as they remount their acclaimed production of McCraney's explosive and fabulous play, WIG OUT!, which will feature ensemble member Glenn Davis and, in a rare return to the stage, Tarell Alvin McCraneyhimself.

Additional highlights include new productions of the Zimbabwean-American family comedy, Familiar, by acclaimed playwright and actor Danai Gurira(Tony Award for Eclipsed; The Walking Dead; Black Panther) featuring newest ensemble member Celeste M. Cooper alongside Ora Jones; Lucas Hnath's bitingly funny sequel to Ibsen's masterpiece, A Doll's House, Part 2 featuring ensemble members Celeste M. Cooper, Sandra Marquez andYasen Peyankov; Lucy Kirkwood's acclaimed drama, The Children, featuring ensemble members Ora Jones and Yasen Peyankov; and the world premiere of Chicago-based playwright Isaac Gomez's beautiful and haunting play with music, La Ruta, to be directed by ensemble member Sandra Marquez.

Closing out the season will be the first Steppenwolf revival of Sam Shepard's True West-the production that catapulted Steppenwolf onto the American Theatre scene in 1982-reimagined through the eyes of the new generation of Steppenwolf artists featuring ensemble members Jon Michael Hill and Namir Smallwood.

"We look forward to sharing these vital, original and joyful plays with Chicago in our 2018/19 season. Steppenwolf's work continues to explore and celebrate the dynamic and ever-changing story of our world-both the literal and emotional-while also hopefully offering insights into experiences beyond our own. At Steppenwolf, we hope to give our audiences the opportunity to both see and be seen, as all of us try to extend ourselves in the worthy effort of understanding our fellow man," shares Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro.

2018/19 Classic and Flex Memberships are now on sale. Pricing starts at $100; a variety of membership options available to fit schedule, budget and accessibility needs. Classic Memberships are for audiences who prefer to lock in their seats and dates in advance, while enjoying perks such as easy and free exchanges, ticket discounts and access to seats before the public. For audiences looking for more flexibility with all the perks, Flex Memberships provide six ticket credits for use anytime, to any show. Student, educator and access discounts offered. For more information and to purchase, visit Audience Services at 1650 N Halsted St, call 312-335-1650 or visit

Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 2018/19 Season

(All plays, artists and dates are subject to change)

World Premiere


By ensemble member Bruce Norris

Directed by Pam MacKinnon

Featuring ensemble members K. Todd Freeman, Francis Guinan and Tim Hopper

September 20 - November 4, 2018

In the Upstairs Theatre

In downstate Illinois four sex offenders share a group home where they must negotiate their place in a world that doesn't want them. A man shows up to confront his childhood abuser-but does he want closure or retribution? This provocative new play by Pulitzer Prize-winning ensemble member Bruce Norris pushes moral boundaries as it questions what happens when society deems anyone unworthy of forgiveness.

Downstate is a co-commission and co-production with The National Theatre of Great Britain. This exciting collaboration will premiere at Steppenwolf in fall 2018 and transfer to the National Theatre in spring 2019. Under the direction of Tony Award winner Pam MacKinnon, Downstate will feature an American and British cast and creative team.

Director of the National Theatre, Rufus Norris says, "We are excited about this brilliant new collaboration with Steppenwolf. Working with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Bruce Norris and Tony Award winner Pam MacKinnon, who will direct Downstate, will be one of the highlights of the NT's 2019 season. We have a rich and wonderful history of working with Steppenwolf at the National Theatre and look forward to starting work on this compelling new co-production."

Downstate is made possible in part by a generous grant from The Roy Cockrum Foundation. Steppenwolf is honored to be the recipient of this major grant, which will allow the company to take on this ambitious premiere by Pulitzer Prize-winning ensemble member Bruce Norris. The Roy Cockrum Foundation awards grants to support world-class performing arts projects in not-for-profit professional theaters throughout the United States of America, enabling theaters to reach beyond their normal scope of activities and undertake ambitious and creative productions. The Roy Cockrum Foundation also supported Steppenwolf's world premiere production of Mary Page Marlowe in 2015 by ensemble member Tracy Letts.


Bruce Norris is the author of Clybourne Park, which premiered in 2010 at Playwrights Horizons and received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as the Olivier, Evening Standard, and Tony Awards for productions at the Royal Court, West End and Broadway. His play A Parallelogram was seen at Second Stage Theater in 2017 and Domesticated played at Lincoln Center Theatre and Steppenwolf in 2015. Additional plays include The Qualms, The Unmentionables, The Pain and the Itch, Purple Heart and others, all of which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre, where he is an ensemble member.

Pam MacKinnon was recently named next artistic director of American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco. She is a Tony and Drama Desk Award winning director for Steppenwolf's revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (also Broadway, Arena Stage). She garnered Tony and Lucille Lortel nominations along with an Obie Award for excellence in direction for Bruce Norris's Clybourne Park (Broadway, Mark Taper, Playwrights Horizons). She also directed Norris's The Qualms at Steppenwolf and Playwrights Horizons. Broadway credits include her production of Beau Willimon's The Parisian Woman with Uma Thurman; David Mamet's China Doll; Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles; Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance; and Amelie, a New Musical (Berkeley Rep and Broadway) in addition to Itamar Moses' Completeness (SCR and Playwrights Horizons); Sarah Treem's When We Were Young and Unafraid (MTC), and more. MacKinnon is the President of the Board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and Board Chair of Clubbed Thumb.

Chicago Premiere


By Danai Gurira

Director TBA

Featuring ensemble members Celeste M. Cooper and Ora Jones

November 15, 2018 - January 6, 2019

In the Downstairs Theatre

It's winter in Minnesota and a Zimbabwean-American family is preparing for the wedding of their eldest daughter. When an unexpected guest arrives and the bride surprises the family by insisting on a traditional African ceremony, pre-wedding stress explodes into a full-on family feud. Fiercely funny, fast-paced and filled with love, Familiar is a brilliant portrayal of a tight-knit family searching to preserve their past while building a new future.


Danai Gurira is an award-winning playwright and actress. As a playwright, her works include In the Continuum (OBIE Award, Outer Critics Award, Helen Hayes Award), Eclipsed (Tony Award Nomination: Best Play; NAACP Award; Helen Hayes Award: Best New Play; Connecticut Critics Circle Award: Outstanding Production of a Play), and The Convert (six Ovation Awards, Los Angeles Outer Critics Award). Her newest play, Familiar, received its world premiere at Yale Rep in 2015, and premiered in New York at Playwrights Horizons in February of 2016. She is a recipient of the Sam Norkin Award at the 2016 Drama Desk Awards, a Whiting Award, a Hodder Fellow, and has been commissioned by Yale Rep, Center Theatre Group, Playwrights Horizons, and the Royal Court. As an actor, she currently co-stars in Marvel's blockbuster phenomenon Black Panther as "Okoye" opposite Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, and Lupita Nyong'o; and as "Michonne" on AMC's "The Walking Dead" (NAACP Image Award nomination). Recently, she starred as "Afeni Shakur" in the Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez on Me, and will next appear in Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War. Other select acting credits include the films The Visitor and Mother of George, and "Isabelle" in NYS&F's Measure for Measure (Equity Callaway Award.) Born in the US to Zimbabwean parents and raised in Zimbabwe, she holds an MFA from Tisch, NYU and serves as an ambassador for Bono's ONE campaign. She is also the founder of, an awareness building campaign focused on the plights of women and girls around the globe; and the co-founder of Almasi Arts, which works to give access and opportunity to the African Dramatic Artist.

World Premiere

La Ruta

By Isaac Gomez

Directed by ensemble member Sandra Marquez

December 13, 2018 - January 27, 2019

In the Upstairs Theatre

To the U.S-owned factories in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, La Ruta is just a bus. But to the hundreds of women who live, work and often disappear along the route, it's so much more than that. Inspired by real testimonies, and using live music to evoke factory work and protest marches, La Ruta is a visceral unearthing of secrets buried in the desert and a celebration of the Mexican women who stand resiliently in the wake of loss.

La Ruta was developed in part through Steppenwolf's new play program, SCOUT, which is dedicated to cultivating new American plays by a diverse group of emerging and established playwrights in direct connection with the award-winning ensemble.


Isaac Gomez is a Chicago-based playwright, originally from El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. His plays include La Ruta (developed at Steppenwolf Theatre, Primary Stages, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Goodman Theatre, and Pivot Arts); Wally World (Sideshow Theater Company); The Way She Spoke: A docu-mythologia (Greenhouse Theater Center, 2016; The VORTEX, 2018); and The Displaced (Haven Theatre, 2018); among others. He is the recipient of the 2017 Jeffry Melnick New Playwright Award at Primary Stages, an inaugural 3Arts "Make A Wave" grantee, an Elizabeth George Commissioned Playwright at South Coast Repertory, a 2017-18 Goodman Theatre's Playwrights Unit member, Co-Creative Director at the Alliance of Latinx Theatre, a Chicago Dramatists Resident Playwright, an Artistic Associate with Victory Gardens Theater, Ensemble Member with Teatro Vista, Artistic Associate with Pivot Arts, a steering committee member of the Latinx Theatre Commons, and Professional Lecturer at The Theatre School at DePaul University.

Sandra Marquez joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in spring 2016 and most recently appeared in Mary Page Marlowe and The Motherf**ker with the Hat and will appear in The Roommate this summer. Other credits at Steppenwolf include A Streetcar Named Desire, Sonia Flew and One Arm. At Teatro Vista, where she is a longtime company member, she directed Fade, My Mañana Comes, Breakfast Lunch & Dinner and Our Lady of the Underpass and has acted in numerous productions, including A View from the Bridge for which she received a Jeff Award. Last fall she completed a three-year arc playing Clytemnestra in what was billed as Court Theater's Iphigenia Cycle (Iphigenia at Aulis, Electra and Agamemnon). Film and television credits include Boss, Empire, Chicago Med, Chicago Justice and Timer. Marquez is on the theater faculty at Northwestern University.

Chicago Premiere

A Doll's House, Part 2

By Lucas Hnath

Director TBA

Featuring ensemble members Celeste M. Cooper, Sandra Marquez and Yasen Peyankov

January 31 - March 17, 2019

In the Downstairs Theatre

As a door slams in 1879 Norway, a young wife and mother leaves behind her family, freeing herself from the shackles of traditional societal constraints. Now, 15 years later, that same door opens to reveal Nora, a changed woman with an incredibly awkward favor to ask the people whom she abandoned. Lucas Hnath's bitingly funny sequel to Ibsen's revolutionary masterpiece unfolds in a series of bristling stand-offs that reveal in Nora's world, much like our own, behind every opinion there is a person, and a slamming door isn't just an end, but also the chance for a new beginning.


Lucas Hnath's plays include A Doll's House, Part 2; Hillary and Clinton; Red Speedo; The Christians (which Steppenwolf produced in December 2016); A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney; Isaac's Eye; and Death Tax. He has been produced on Broadway at the John Golden Theater, Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, and Ensemble Studio Theatre. His plays have been produced regionally all over the country with premieres at the Humana Festival of New Plays, Victory Gardens, and South Coast Rep. He has been a resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2011. Awards include Kesselring Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, Whiting Award, two Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award Citations, Outer Critics Circle Award for Best New Play, and an Obie.

Chicago Premiere

The Children

By Lucy Kirkwood

Directed by Jonathan Berry

Featuring ensemble members Ora Jones and Yasen Peyankov

April 18 - June 9, 2019

In the Downstairs Theatre

On a summer evening in an isolated seaside cottage in the East of England, a pair of retired nuclear scientists are startled by a visit from a former colleague. As some crackers and wine are trotted out, so are various old jealousies, leading to the true reason for Rose's sudden reappearance: the revelation of a chilling and dangerous plan. Following sold out runs in London and New York, Steppenwolf is proud to present this brave, humane and beautifully written play that confronts the responsibility each generation must face for the way it leaves

the world.


Lucy Kirkwood is an acclaimed playwright and screenwriter. In 2009, Lucy's play It Felt Empty When the Heart Went at First but It Is Alright Now was produced by Clean Break Theatre Co. at the Arcola Theatre. The play was nominated for an Evening Standard Award for Best Newcomer and made Kirkwood joint winner of the John Whiting Award 2010. NSFW premiered at The Royal Court Theatre in 2012. Chimerica, premiered at the Almeida Theatre in 2013 and subsequently transferred to the West End, earning the Best New Play at the 2014 Olivier and Evening Standard Awards, as well as the Critics Circle Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Recent work includes Mosquitoes, presented by special arrangement with Manhattan Theatre Club, which opened at the National Theatre in summer 2017; and The Children, which premiered at the Royal Court, London, in 2016, and opened on Broadway in December 2017. For screen, Kirkwood has written for Skins (Company Pictures), created and wrote The Smoke(Kudos / Sky 1), and wrote and directed the short film The Briny. Her new six part season Adult Material and mini-series of her play Chimerica have both recently been greenlit.

Jonathan Berry joined the Steppenwolf staff as Artistic Producer and Director of The School at Steppenwolf in June 2015. A prolific director, his Steppenwolf directing credits include You Got Older, Constellations, Gary for First Look and The Crucible and A Separate Peace for Steppenwolf for Young Adults, as well as assisting on The Weir, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Mother Courage and Her Children and This is Our Youth. Since 2009, Berry has taught Viewpoints for the School at Steppenwolf, and is a company member of both Steep and Griffin Theatres.


By ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney

Directed by ensemble member Tina Landau

Featuring ensemble members Glenn Davis and Tarell Alvin McCraney

May 23 - July 7, 2019

In the Upstairs Theatre

The legendary drag queens of the House of Light only come to walk the runway when they are sent for, and a rival drag house has SENT! The challenge: "Cinderella" ball. At midnight. TONIGHT. As they prepare to serve runway realness, we take a look behind the sequined curtain at the dazzling world of the African American drag ball culture. Ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney, fresh off an Oscar win for Moonlight, joins the cast of his pageant play WIG OUT!, a divine exploration of finding your identity, owning your sexuality and building your family.


Tarell Alvin McCraney's plays include The Brothers Size, In the Red and Brown Water, and Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet; Head of Passes, Choir Boy and WIG OUT! He is the recipient of the Whiting Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, the Evening Standard Award, the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, the Windham Campbell Award, a 2013 MacArthur "Genius" Grant, a Doris Duke Artist Award, and most recently, an Academy Award for best writing adapted screenplay for the film Moonlight. McCraney is a graduate from the New World School of the Arts, the Theatre School at DePaul University, and the Yale School of Drama where he currently serves as the head of the playwriting department. He is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, a resident playwright at New Dramatists, and a member of Teo Castellanos/D-Projects in Miami.

Tina Landau is a writer, director, and teacher whose work includes directing/conceiving SpongeBob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical (currently on Broadway), Tarell McCraney's Head of Passes (Steppenwolf, The Public and the Mark Taper Forum), WIG OUT! (Vineyard Theatre), and In the Red and Brown Water (The Public), Bill Irwin/David Shiner's Old Hats and Chuck Mee's Big Love and Iphigenia 2.0 (all Signature Theatre), Paula Vogel's A Civil War Christmas (New York Theatre Workshop), and her musical Floyd Collins (also bookwriter/additional lyrics, Playwrights Horizons.) On Broadway, Landau has also directed Tracy Letts's Superior Donuts and the revival of Bells Are Ringing. At Steppenwolf, where she is an ensemble member, directing credits include The Wheel, Hot L Baltimore, The Brother/Sister Plays, The Tempest, The Time of Your Life (also Seattle Rep, ACT),The Diary of Anne Frank, The Cherry Orchard, The Ballad of Little Jo, Berlin Circle, and her own play Space (also Mark Taper Forum, the Public.) Landau has co-authored The Viewpoints Book with Anne Bogart and has taught regularly at such schools as Yale, Columbia, Harvard, and Northwestern. Upcoming projects include a follow-up book with Bogart, Viewpoints on Viewpoints, and the premiere of the new musical Dave this spring at Arena Stage.

True West

By Sam Shepard

Director TBA

Featuring ensemble members Jon Michael Hill and Namir Smallwood

July 5 - August 18, 2019

In the Downstairs Theatre

In 1982, Steppenwolf exploded onto the American Theatre scene with its now legendary production of Sam Shepard's True West. This American classic traces the sometimes violent and always volatile relationship of Austin and Lee, estranged brothers who find themselves trapped together in their mother's empty house with not much more than a typewriter and a set of golf clubs. In its first Steppenwolf revival, we re-imagine Shepard's masterpiece through the eyes of our new generation of Steppenwolf artists, with a little help from those who came before.


Sam Shepard's first New York plays, Cowboys and The Rock Garden, were produced by Theatre Genesis in 1963. For several seasons, he worked with Off-Off-Broadway theatre groups including La MaMa and Caffe Cino. Eleven of his plays won Obie Awards, including Chicago, The Tooth of the Crime, and Curse of the Starving Class. Other award-winning plays include Fool for Love, True West, A Lie of the Mind, and Buried Child, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1979. In 1986, Shepard was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received the Gold Medal for Drama from the Academy in 1992. He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame two years later. As a writer and director, he filmed Far North and Silent Tongue. As an actor, he appeared in numerous films, including The Right Stuff, Days of Heaven and Resurrection. His final works of prose, The One Inside and Spy of the First Person, were published in 2017, the year of his death.

Memberships & Ticket Information

Membership at Steppenwolf is more than just a seat in the house-it's insider access, great savings and the ultimate flexibility. Classic Membershipsoffer guaranteed seats for the full Steppenwolf experience (7-Play Package) or choose your own experience (customizable package of 5 or 6 total plays). Flex Memberships are for audiences who prefer extreme flexibility with all the perks: The Black Card Membership offers six ticket credits good for any performance, any time; credits are valid for one year with the option to reload credits. Red Card Memberships offer audiences under the age of 30 the option to purchase six ticket credits at a discounted price to use towards any play, any time. Membership perks for both Classic and Flex 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. Discounted Student/Educator Series and Accessible Series Memberships also available.

To purchase a 2018/19 Steppenwolf Membership, visit Audience Services at 1650 N Halsted St, call 312-335-1650 or Single tickets to the 2018/19 Season will go on sale at a later date.

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.

Visitor Information

Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N Halsted St near all forms of public transportation, bike racks and Divvy bike stands. The parking facility ($12 or $14, cash or card) is located just south of our theater at 1624 N Halsted. Valet parking service ($14 cash) is available directly in front of the main entrance starting at 5pm on weeknights, 1pm on weekends and at 12noon before Wednesday matinees. Limited 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 and the Downstairs and 1700 Theatres are each equipped with an induction hearing loop. All theaters feature wheelchair accessible seating and restrooms, and Front Bar features a push-button entrance, all-gender restrooms and accessible counter and table spaces.

Steppenwolf ensemble members include: Joan Allen, Kevin Anderson, Alana Arenas, Randall Arney, Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Robert Breuler, Cliff Chamberlain, Gary Cole, Celeste M. Cooper, Glenn Davis, Kathryn Erbe, Audrey Francis, K. Todd Freeman, Frank Galati, Francis Guinan, Moira Harris, Jon Michael Hill, Tim Hopper, Tom Irwin, Ora Jones, Terry Kinney†, Tina Landau, Martha Lavey*, Tracy Letts, John Mahoney*, John Malkovich, Sandra Marquez, Mariann Mayberry*, Tarell Alvin McCraney, James Vincent Meredith, Laurie Metcalf, Amy Morton, Sally Murphy, Caroline Neff, Bruce Norris, Austin Pendleton, Jeff Perry†, William Petersen, Yasen Peyankov, Martha Plimpton, Rondi Reed, Molly Regan, Anna D. Shapiro, Eric Simonson, Gary Sinise, Namir Smallwood, Lois Smith, Rick Snyder, Jim True-Frost and Alan Wilder. *In Memoriam †Co-Founder

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation's premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble represents 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 programming 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,, Twitter: @SteppenwolfThtr and Instagram: @steppenwolfthtr.

Photo credit Kyle Flubacker

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