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Steppenwolf Theatre Has Announced its 2020/21 Season and the Grand Opening of New Theatre Building

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Steppenwolf Theatre Has Announced its 2020/21 Season and the Grand Opening of New Theatre Building

Steppenwolf Theatre Company Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro and the Steppenwolf ensemble announced the 2020/21 Season today. As the storied ensemble theatre company embarks on its 45th season, a lineup of thrilling plays will be featured in its current home at 1650 N Halsted with the final production of the season premiering in the new state-of-the-Art Theatre building at 1646 N Halsted in August 2021.

With a large roster of ensemble participation, the highly anticipated 2020/21 Season launches with the world premiere stage adaptation of Good Night, and Good Luck by Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies), based on the Oscar-nominated screenplay by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, directed by Tony-winning ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro (The Minutes, August: Osage County). A prescient story of media and censorship, the complete cast includes ensemble members Alana Arenas, Ian Barford, Audrey Francis, tom irwina?? and William Petersen with Jordan Brodess, Keith Gallagher and Joey Slotnick.

The 2020/21 season comes to a celebratory conclusion with an extraordinarily funny and magical world premiere adaptation of Seagull by Anton Chekov, translated, adapted and directed by ensemble member Yasen Peyankov. Stacked with an all Ensemble cast, Seagull will be the first show to open the stunning theatre-in-the-round and signal a new era of theatre-making at Steppenwolf.

"This season marks a milestone that has been years in the making. In 1976, a small group of intrepid young people took over a church basement in Highland Park and started making plays because they needed, simply, to create. Over the next four decades this group would grow to include some of the most important theatre makers in the world, let alone the country, and together this ensemble of committed actors, directors and writers would become a Chicago treasure and help secure our city's legacy as the North Star of the American Theatre.

This season-and 45 years after the lights went on in Highland Park-Steppenwolf will open our new building, completing a campus worthy of the artists whose commitment to excellence, truth and bravery continues to inspire our city," shares Artistic Director and ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro.

The new 50,000 sq. ft building will feature a 400-seat theatre-in-the-round-only six rows deep-a manifestation of a recommitment to the Steppenwolf ethos of intimate and powerfully personal storytelling.

"We chose Seagull to open the new theatre for so many reasons. There is, first and foremost the play itself: a timeless look at how aspiration and desire infect and inform our relationship not just with others but to ourselves. Reading Yasen Peyankov's adaptation aloud as an ensemble was a truly unforgettable experience where everyone in the room said without a doubt, this is it-this is the play to launch our new space.

At its heart, the story of Seagull is deeply meaningful to us-wrestling as it does with generational battles about not just the meaning of art, but its necessity at all. This plays out within a group of people who love each other more than they don't, and who need each other more than they know. We are at this seminal moment together-our ensemble and our audiences-we stand on the shoulders of those who brought us here and celebrate those who will lead us into the next 45 years," adds Shapiro.


The second phase of Steppenwolf's multi-year campus expansion will be visible at the start of the 2020/21 Season. Audiences will enjoy a renovated Downstairs Theatre lobby and new wine bar located on the second floor of the theatre just in time for the 2020/21 season opener, Good Night, and Good Luck (October 22 - December 20, 2020). The enhanced Downstairs Theatre lobby experience will be an exciting precursor to the new building, which once complete will connect the existing and new buildings, creating a seamless campus on Halsted Street.

Following Good Night, and Good Luck will be the world premiere of Bald Sisters by Vichet Chum (December 3, 2020 - February 7, 2021). Two Cambodian-American sisters plan their mother's funeral in this sharp-edged, hilarious and ultimately poignant exploration of an American family finding its way. One of the most captivating new voices in the American Theatre, Vichet Chum receives his Chicago debut with Bald Sisters.

The new year brings the daring and provocative Chicago premiere of Barcelona by Bess Wohl, directed by Trip Cullman featuring ensemble member Caroline Neff in a play that will leave audiences questioning their eyes, ears and most of all their loyalties (January 28 - March 14, 2021).

A second Chicago premiere takes the stage in the spring-Last Night and the Night Before (April 1 - May 16, 2021) is a poetic and heartbreaking portrait of Black Love by Donnetta Lavinia Grays directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton. Ensemble member Namir Smallwood, who has received major critical acclaim for his work over the past two seasons in the revival of True West and Steppenwolf's debut of Bug, returns to the stage for Grays's masterpiece.

Fresh off a hit Broadway run and Tony nomination, Choir Boy by Oscar-winning ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight, MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT) and directed by Robert O'Hara (Slave Play, Marie Antoinette) makes its Steppenwolf debut featuring ensemble members James Vincent Mereditha?? and a??Austin Pendleton (June 10 - August 1, 2021). This elegy to quiet rebellion, filled with the sound of longing and aspiration, is a love song in pianissimo to the unseen heart that beats inside us all.

The new building-designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and London-based theatre design team Charcoalblue-features a 400-seat theatre-in-the-round, an education floor with classrooms and workshops, a new bar and sidewalk lounge. Christening the new theatre will be Seagull with an all ensemble cast taking the stage, August 1, 2021.

"The new theatre is a bold, modern in-the-round space offering unparallel levels of focus for the actors and audience. Chicago doesn't have another space like it-in fact Steppenwolf is leading a renewed charge in defining rooms where dialogue and the immediacy of the performers is paramount," shares Gavin Green, Senior Partner at Charcoalblue.

2020/21 Season Memberships are now available: Classic Memberships offer guaranteed seats to all main series shows in the 1650 N Halsted building plus the opportunity to unlock early-access to the new theatre-in-the-round when adding Seagull to a membership package at a members-only discount. Members enjoy savings of up to 60% off single ticket prices, exclusive invitations to behind-the-scenes events with artists, discounts at Front Bar and the Steppenwolf Gift Shop, unlimited guest tickets at the member rate and advance access to special events and performances. Memberships start as low as $130. To purchase Memberships, visit Audience Services at 1650 N Halsted St, call 312-335-1650 or visit steppenwolf.org/memberships.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 2020/21 Season

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

World Premiere

Good Night, and Good Luck

By a??Matt Charman

Based on the screenplay by a??George Clooneya?? and a??Grant Heslov
Directed by ensemble member a??Anna D. Shapiro
Produced by special arrangement by Jean Doumanian, Robert Fox, George Clooney and Grant Heslov

Complete cast features ensemble members a??Alana Arenas, Ian Barford, Audrey Francis, tom irwina?? and William Petersen along with Jordan Brodess, Keith Gallagher and Joey Slotnick

October 22 - December 20, 2020

In the a??Downstairs Theatre

1953: Dark days in Washington, D.C. Senator Joseph McCarthy wages his ruthless campaign against all those he deems "Un-American," public trust in the institutions of government is in perilous decline and a panicked gloom grips the nation. All that stands in the way of the continued disintegration of the American body politic is Edward R. Murrow, his room of intrepid journalists and one black-and-white newscast destined to change the course of this country's civic life. This world premiere adaptation of George Clooney's Oscar-nominated film is a stark, fast-moving and timely look at the treacherous business of telling truths in dark times.

Fifteen years after the release of the much-lauded film, this world premiere will hit Steppenwolf's stage at the height of 2020's election cycle. Against the backdrop of this highly charged political atmosphere, Steppenwolf's ensemble and Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro are eager to tell this prescient tale about a heroic moment in American history where those with everything to lose decided to stand up and call out injustice.

World Premiere

Bald Sisters

By Vichet Chum

December 3, 2020 - February 7, 2021

In the a??Upstairs Theatre

Two bald sisters at an impasse, an imperfect husband wrestling with his faith, a young immigrant hustling to pay for college and Ma-the matriarch whose sudden death has turned their world upside-down. How does this Cambodian American family plan a funeral for a force of nature who manages to bedevil them in death even more than she did in life? Do they honor the past from which she struggled to heal or the future she willed into existence? This world premiere play by Vichet Chum is a sharp-edged, hilarious and ultimately poignant exploration of an American family finding its way.

From the Wingfields to the Westons, Steppenwolf has always been drawn to the explosive collisions of the American family. Bald Sisters offers a refreshingly unique perspective on this time-honored tradition. The ensemble is excited to invite stories onto our stage where layers of the past pile onto layers of the present, weaving together a lush and complex fabric of American identity. While our differences exist, these iterations of the American family remind us of the commonalities we all share.

Bald Sisters was developed at Steppenwolf as part of the SCOUT new play series, which also developed La Ruta by Isaac Gómez.

Chicago Premiere

Barcelona

By a??Bess Wohl

Directed by a??Trip Cullman

Featuring ensemble member a??Caroline Neff

January 28 - March 14, 2021

In the a??Downstairs Theatre

Barcelona. Las Ramblas. Late night. A young American woman stumbles into the arms of an older handsome stranger. As the booze fades and the light gathers, their relationship grows murkier, darker and decidedly more dangerous and it becomes clear that these lovers are not who they seem. Bess Wohl's daring and provocative play is an expertly drawn battle of personal fantasy vs national truth that will leave audiences questioning their eyes, ears and-most of all-their loyalties.

One of this country's most exciting voices, Bess Wohl has created a play that speaks to the essentially American conundrum of accountability, both personal and political. With two astonishing roles for actors and an engaging and complex plot line, Barcelona captures every element of the Steppenwolf ethos in its taut and dangerous 90 minutes.

Chicago Premiere

Last Night and the Night Before

Bya??Donnetta Lavinia Grays

Directed by a??Valerie Curtis-Newton

Featuring ensemble membera?? Namir Smallwood

April 1 - May 16, 2021

In the a??Downstairs Theatre

A young woman is on the run. From what, she will not say. Arriving on the doorstep of her older sister's Brooklyn brownstone with her ten-year-old daughter Sam, but without her loyal husband, her presence asks more questions than it answers as everyone in her orbit is thrown off balance and into one another. As Sam becomes increasingly haunted by the life she was forced to leave in Georgia, the adults are forced to consider what they must sacrifice to break a cycle of despair. Stunning, poetic and heartbreaking, Donnetta Lavinia Grays's portrait of Black Love explores the complex forms family can take.

Donnetta Lavinia Grays's play is a perfect example of the kind of New American Realism that speaks to both the Steppenwolf Ensemble and its audiences. Exquisitely drawn characters, perfectly structured narrative and a truly original voice inhabit the world of Sam, the young narrator, as she stands in the middle of a familial web whose truth is ever-changing and for whom salvation is elusive. To inhabit this world as theatre makers and to witness it as theatre goers will be something none of us will soon forget.

Choir Boy

By ensemble member a??Tarell Alvin McCraney

Directed by Robert O'Hara

Featuring ensemble members a??James Vincent Mereditha??and a??Austin Pendleton

June 10 - August 1, 2021

In the a??Downstairs Theatre

Pharus Young, now a senior at the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys, an institution committed to building "strong, ethical black men," endeavors to be the best leader of the school's prestigious choir in its 50-year history. But in a world built on rites and rituals, should he conform to the expectations of his peers in order to gain the respect he desperately seeks? Written by Oscar-winning ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight), this Tony-nominated play-threaded throughout with soul-stirring a cappella gospel hymns-is the story of a young gay black man and his battle between identity and community.

Tarell Alvin McCraney is one of our country's most important voices. Speaking as he does for both the unseen masses and the spectacularly singular, there is simply no journey he goes on that Steppenwolf would not want to follow. Choir Boy is an elegy to quiet rebellion, filled with the sound of longing and aspiration. It is a love song in pianissimo to the unseen heart that beats inside us all. The company is thrilled to bring this beautiful story "home."

World Premiere Adaptation

Seagull

Bya??Anton Chekhov

Translated and adapted by ensemble member a??Yasen Peyankov

Directed by ensemble membera?? Yasen Peyankov

Featuring ensemble members a??Ian Barford, Cliff Chamberlain, Francis Guinan, Tim Hopper, Sandra Marquez, James Vincent Meredith, Caroline Neff, Karen Rodriguez a??anda?? Namir Smallwood

July 24 - September 12, 2021

In the a??NEW theatre-in-the-round

In a giant country house filled to overflow on a long summer weekend in the Russian countryside, three generations collide in Yasen Peyankov's extraordinarily funny and magical adaption of Anton Chekhov's Seagull, the play that will open our new theatre-in-the-round. In classic Chekhovian style, an all Ensemble cast will wrestle with the eternal questions that haunt the intellectual artist class: What is Love? What is Art? When is Lunch? Please join us for this historical moment in Steppenwolf's journey as we explore the work that inspired us, laugh at the battles that consume us and celebrate, together, all that makes us grateful for each other.

We chose Seagull to open the new theatre for so many reasons. There is, first and foremost, the play itself: a timeless look at how aspiration and desire infect and inform our relationship, not just with others, but with ourselves. Its compassionate and loving examination of both the futility and necessity of longing in our lives is shown through the exquisitely etched cast of characters that inhabit this impossibly humor-filled world. But also, at its heart, the story of Seagull is deeply meaningful to us, wrestling as it does with generational battles about not just the meaning of art but its necessity at all. And of course, all of this plays out within a group of people who love each other more than they don't and who need each other more than they know. At this moment, this play, and our company, are together. We want to share that with our audiences.

About Steppenwolf's New Theatre Building at 1646 N Halsted St

Rendering of Steppenwolf's New Building by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

"The new building will be an open invitation to all-with performance, rehearsal and social places intentionally built to place artists, audiences and students in constant engagement with each other. The theatre-in-the-round design will highlight what makes our company unique-visceral, human and intimate experiences of incredible acting. Our first-ever purpose-built learning space, which is the crowning jewel of the building, will allow us to place education at the heart of our mission and increase the number of teens impacted by our programming from 15,000 to 40,000," shares Executive Director David Schmitz.

The parking garage at 1624 N. Halsted will remain and undergo cosmetic changes to its façade to create symmetry across the campus. Increased valet service will be offered to continue to make parking easy, and accessible parking will be available next to Front Bar at 1700 N Halsted. During construction, the parking garage continues to be available to patrons.

"The expansion of Steppenwolf will introduce new relationships with its patrons, neighborhood and Chicago as a whole. Architecturally the design fits within the character of the neighborhood, recognizing the significance of its presence along Halsted Street while respecting our neighbors," shares lead architect Gordon Gill.

The new theatre will ultimately replace the Upstairs Theatre and will be the only in-the-round theatre space found in a major Chicago theatre. With 400 seats and only six rows deep, the ensemble is eager to have such an artistically different space that returns the company to its roots, where fearless acting is within arm's reach.

Rendering of Steppenwolf's New Theatre by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
(Note: The production depicted is not representative of Seagull)

"It is so exciting to have an additional artistic home that enables the ensemble to have a closer connection to the audience, something the ensemble has wanted to return to since our days playing in small venues. I think this theatre will also be a great place for audiences and students to see our work in an up-close and personal way. A chance for them to feel a part of the whole experience," shares ensemble member Amy Morton.

Designed with the highest accessibility standards, the new theatre building will be located at 1646 N Halsted between the existing parking garage (which will remain) and the main theatre building, seamlessly connecting the campus across the west side of Halsted Street. As part of this expansion phase, the lobbies of the Downstairs Theatre will also undergo major renovations to better serve audiences starting Fall 2020.

For more details about Steppenwolf's Campus Expansion, visit steppenwolf.org/buildingonexcellence.



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