Steppenwolf Announces 18/19 Season Lineup

Steppenwolf Announces 18/19 Season Lineup

Photo: Tarel Alvin McCraney

Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro and Executive Director David Schmitz have announced the company’s 18/19 season.

Featuring seven productions, the 43rd season starts 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 will direct, and the production will feature ensemble members K. Todd Freeman, Francis Guinan and Tim Hopper.

Ensemble member and Academy Award-Winner (“Moonlight”) Tarell Alvin McCraney will be reunited with ensemble member Tina Landau as they remount their acclaimed production of McCraney’s WIG OUT!, which will feature ensemble member Glenn Davis and, in a rare return to the stage, McCraney himself.

Additional highlights include new productions of the Zimbabwean-American family comedy, FAMILIAR, by Danai Gurira featuring ensemble members Celeste M. Cooper and Ora Jones; Lucas Hnath’s sequel to Ibsen’s masterpiece, A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2, featuring ensemble members Celeste M. Cooper, Sandra Marquez and Yasen 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 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.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s 2018/19 Season (from the press release): 
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.”


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.

World Premiere
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.


Chicago Premiere
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.

Chicago Premiere
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.

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.

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.

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