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Steppenwolf Theatre Company to Host Two Visiting Companies as Part of LookOut

Steppenwolf Theatre Company to Host Two Visiting Companies as Part of LookOut

Steppenwolf Theatre Company will host two bold visiting companies as part of LookOut, a year-round series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. Steppenwolf's 1700 Theatre will be the home to two productions from impressive Chicago storefront theatres next year: First Floor Theater and Definition Theatre.

First up is First Floor Theater's Chicago premiere of the wonderfully strange production of Plano (February 16 - March 28, 2020) by Will Arbery, directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Audrey Francis. Next is Definition Theatre's brash and uproarious production of WHITE (April 17 - May 24, 2020) by Definition Theatre ensemble member James Ijames, directed by Tasia A. Jones. This show will coincide with Steppenwolf's bold and inventive main stage production of James Ijames's The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington (April 2 - May 17, 2020).

Tickets to First Floor Theater's Plano and Definition Theatre's WHITE are on sale now through Audiences Services (1650 N Halsted), 312-335-1650 and Steppenwolf RED Card holders may use their ticket credits towards Plano and WHITE. Full details below; prices vary. For information, visit

Steppenwolf Executive Director David Schmitz shares, "hosting visiting companies is in our DNA. Over the decades we have welcomed dozens of amazing Chicago theater companies into our house, providing space and institutional support for them to create works that are bold, daring and take us back to our roots in Chicago's storefront scene. We relish the opportunity to engage with a new crop of artists and audiences, who inevitably bring fresh ideas and energy onto our campus, and we are always better for it. As part of our ongoing visiting company initiative, we are excited to be hosting First Floor Theater and Definition Theatre, companies we admire greatly, and the stellar group of artists they bring with them."

Steppenwolf's 1700 Theatre is a flexible and intimate venue connected to Steppenwolf's own Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks at 1700 N Halsted St., an inviting space to grab a drink, have a bite, or meet up with friends and collaborators, day or night. Guests can take drinks into the theater.

Visiting Companies

Listed in date order. All artists, dates and prices subject to change.
*Doors open 30 minutes before performance time

First Floor Theater presents:

By Will Arbery
Directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Audrey Francis

Tonight, and later, and earlier, three sisters (no, not those ones) are stricken with a series of strange plagues. Isabel's got pains. Anne's got slugs. And Genevieve doesn't want to talk about hers. She just wants you to eat the damn hummus (she made it!) Fresh from its wildly successful Off-Broadway debut and remount that TimeOut NY called "experimental theater perfection," Plano is "as funny as it is powerfully disturbing" (Vulture.) Steppenwolf Ensemble Member Audrey Francis returns to direct at First Floor Theater, where she previously co-directed FFT's first production in 2012.

The Plano cast features (pictured top row L to R) Chris Acevedo (John/Juan), Elizabeth Birnkrant (Anne), Andrew Cutler* (Steve), (pictured bottom row L to R) Amanda Fink* (Isabel), Andrew Lund (Faceless Ghost), Janice O'Neil (Mary) and Ashley Neal (Genevieve)

The Plano production team includes Caitlin McCarthy (Co-Director of Production), Cole Von Glahn* (Co-Director of Production), Bobby Huggins* (Technical Director) Kristen Martino (Scenic Design), Raquel Adorno (Costume Design), Jason Lynch (Lighting Design) and Eric Backus (Sound Design). Additional credits include Lucy Whipp (Stage Manager), Micah Figueroa (Movement Design) and Catherine Miller* (Casting Director). *Denotes First Floor Theater Company Member.

About First Floor Theater: First Floor Theater (FFT) stages stories of individuals facing moments of radical change. By combining visceral acting, immersive design, and collaborative dramaturgy, FFT expands these stories to ask urgent, social questions.

Founded in 2012, First Floor Theater has garnered a reputation for pairing some of the most cutting-edge scripts in Chicago and the American Theater with a signature innovative design style. Shortly after our inaugural season, FFT was named "Best New Theater Company" in the Chicago Reader. We were also honored to be recognized with the 2018 Francesca Primus Prize from ATCA for our production of Leah Nanako-Winkler's Two Mile Hollow, and in Newcity's Players 2019: "The Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago". Some of First Floor's notable twenty-two past productions include Hooded or Being Black for Dummies, Mike Pence Sex Dream, Two Mile Hollow, Peerless and Matt & Ben. First Floor Theater is a Resident Company at The Den Theatre. First Floor Theater's next production is the world premiere of The Juniors by Noah Diaz, directed by Artistic Director Hutch Pimentel.

Definition Theatre presents:

By James Ijames*
Directed by Tasia A. Jones

Pictured (L to R) playwright James Ijames* and director Tasia A. Jones
*Denotes Definition Theatre ensemble member

Gus is a painter expecting his big break with a prestigious contemporary art museum in 'The New America' exhibition. When he's told by the museum's new curator that "white dudes" aren't a part of New America, he enlists the help of Vanessa, a black actress, and together they create Balkonae Townsend, a bold, young radical artist to serve as the face of his work. But when things start to spiral out of control, Gus is left to deal with the mess he created and Vanessa must come to terms with her own agency as an artist. Audacious and bitingly funny, WHITE explores white privilege, racial politics and the fine line between appropriation and opportunity.

The WHITE production team includes Scott Penner (Scenic Designer), Sanja Manakoski (Costume Designer), Simean Carpenter (Lighting Designer), David Samba (Sound Designer), Sam Rosenfeld (Props Designer) and Maddie Martin (Production Manager). Additional credits include Jared Bellot (Dramaturg), Toni Ward (Stage Manager) and Ariel Beller (Assistant Stage Manager).

About Definition Theatre: Definition Theatre is a culturally diverse theater dedicated to telling language-driven, relationship-oriented, socially relevant stories about and created with underrepresented communities in Chicago. We pride ourselves on leading the way as an anti-racist organization rooted in engaging and educating future artists and audiences.

Dei??nition Theatre has built its reputation on work that rei??ects its unique voice. It shared the words of Academy Award-Winner Tarell Alvin McCraney in The Brothers Size; it grooved with Amiri Baraka's whirlwind story of a chance meeting on a train in Dutchman; and staged its first world premiere production, Genesis, written by ensemble member Mercedes White and inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's iconic masterwork A Raisin in the Sun. In partnership with, The New Colony staged the world premiere of Byhalia, Mississippi, which starred Academy Award nominee and ensemble member Kiki Layne. In association with The Goodman Theatre, Definition staged the Chicago premiere of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' An Octoroon, a subversive take on race in America that captivated audiences. Most recently, Definition sent us all to the moon with Definition Theatre ensemble member James Ijames's Moon Man Walk, explored the challenges of America's public-school system through Nilaja Sun's No Child..., and highlighted the first-generation experience in Sam Kebede's ETHIOPIANAMERICA. For more information, visit and

LookOut is Steppenwolf's performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form, emerging artists and performance legends, quintessential Chicago companies and young aspiring ensembles, familiar Steppenwolf faces and new friends. Greta Honold and Patrick Zakem are the producers for LookOut, and Zoe Lesser is the 2019/20 LookOut Producing Apprentice. For more information, visit


The 1700 Theatre features wheelchair-accessible seating, an Induction Hearing Loop, and assistive listening devices. Front Bar features a push-button entrance, all-gender accessible restrooms and accessible counter and table spaces.


Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N Halsted St near all forms of public transportation, bike racks and Divvy bike stands. The parking facility ($15 or $17, cash or card) is located just south of our theater at 1624 N Halsted. Valet parking service ($15 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.

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