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Welcome to Pass Over
Letter from Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro
Rehearsal Photos By Joel Moorman
Directed by STEVE
10 Bios 14 Inside Pass Over
A conversation with playwright Antoinette Nwandu
Greta Honold Joel Moorman Brianna Parry A.J. Roy Anna D. Shapiro Patrick Zakem
Ensemble member Jon Michael Hill and cast member Julian Parker Photograph by Saverio Truglia
THIS SUMMER, RELIVE THE ECSTASY—AND AGONY—OF YOUR FIRST LOVE! On July 4, fireworks aren’t the only flames burning for 17-year-old Richard Miller—whose passion for poetry is rivaled only by affection for Muriel, the girl of his dreams. When her father forbids the young couple from dating, Richard embarks on an evening of unexpected rebellion. Eugene O’Neill’s “warm-hearted, welcome dose of love and laughter” (Los Angeles Times) delightfully captures the bliss, adventure and angst of young romance.
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2 Pass Over Major Corporate Sponsor
Official Lighting Sponsor
Corporate Sponsor Partner
Anna D. Shapiro† Artistic Director
Steppenwolf Salutes the Sponsors of Pass Over Major Production Sponsor
David Schmitz Executive Director
Steppenwolf Theatre Company presents
By Antoinette Nwandu
Directed by Danya Taymor
Featuring Individual Production Sponsors Matthew Shapiro and Jacqueline Podewils Major Support for Steppenwolf’s New Play Development is provided by: The Davee Foundation The Zell Family Foundation
ComEd is the 2016/17 Season Lighting Sponsor
Ryan Hallahan,* Jon Michael Hill†* and Julian Parker*
Production Wilson Chin+ Scenic Design Dede Ayite+ Costume Design Marcus Doshi+ Lighting Design Ray Nardelli+ Sound Design and Original Music Aaron Carter Artistic Producer Tom Pearl Director of Production JC Clementz Casting Director Cassie Calderone* Stage Manager Kathleen Barrett Assistant Stage Manager
Pass Over was developed by Cherry Lane Mentor Project, Angelina Fiordellisi, Founding Artistic Director The world premiere of Pass Over was produced and presented at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago, IL; Anna D. Shapiro, Artistic Director and David Schmitz, Executive Director. Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for nonprofit professional theater. † member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble. * member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers. + member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829 of the IATSE.
4 Pass Over
Cast and Contributors
Welcome to Pass Over
Cast (in alphabetical order)
Ryan Hallahan* Mister/Ossifer Jon Michael Hill†* Moses Julian Parker* Kitch
Tasia Jones Assistant Director Aram Kim and Zhao Mingshuo Assistant Scenic Designers Kaili Story Assistant Lightining Designer Sarah Illiatovich-Goldman Script Supervisor Matt Hawkins Fight Choreographer Lucas Garcia and Lauren Katz Additional Research Aaron Stephenson Sound Board Op Jacob Brown, Kevin Lynch and Mark Vinson Additional Carpentry Bennett Seymour Additional Properties Sarah Diefenbach Wardrobe Crew Gianna Petrosino Stage Management Apprentice Rebecca Adelsheim, Rebekah Camm, Gregory Geffrard, Lavina Jadhwani, Neel McNeill, Derek Matson, Derek McPhatter and Leean Torske Audience Engagement Associates
Understudies (in alphabetical order) Gregory Geffrard Moses Jeffery Owen Freelon Jr Kitch Christopher Sheard* Mister/Ossifer
Setting Time: now. right now Place: a ghetto street. a lampost. night
There will be a post-show discussion immediately following the performance.
As a courtesy to the actors and your fellow patrons, please turn off your cell phones before the performance. The taking of photographs and the use of any type of recording device are not allowed in the theater during performances and is a violation of state and federal copyright laws. Digital media will be deleted, and tape or film will be confiscated. † member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble. * member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers. + member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829 of the IATSE.
Heartbroken by the absurd repetition of violence that made her question how much progress has been made against racism, Antoinette Nwandu wrote Pass Over . It would be hard to communicate in writing the depth and breadth of conversation her brave and provocative play has excited here at Steppenwolf, both among the staff who deal with the challenging and painful truths of the work in their day-to-day encounters with it and with ensemble members whose questions and concerns collide almost perfectly with their wishes and hopes for real programming changes at our theatre. These conversations include, but are not limited to, the role of a predominantly white institution in the presentation of voices historically not their own, awareness of the dangers of presenting powerful and potentially derogatory race-based tropes to audiences who simply may not have the context to look through them to the ideas beyond, and the fear, the deep, real fear, that the intentions of Antoinette’s work—the attempt to show why life for young Black men in this country is different than life for anyone else—would be lost in the noise of whether or not we should be the theatre to feature the work at all. While these conversations and the feelings attendant to them are not always easy, they are central to the vitality and relevance of Steppenwolf Theatre and all other arts organizations who wish to be an authentic part of this country’s desperately needed reckoning with race. But the truth is that I programmed the play for very personal reasons and those reasons belong not just to a broad conversation but to a small one raging in my own heart. I programmed Pass Over because I believe it truly speaks to the plight of young Black men in this country. I believe it is about how blind our community is to their conditions and our own culpability in the creation and maintenance of those conditions. I believe, as a mother, bearing witness to this story makes these young men my sons and therefore my responsibility. That they are still playful, still at times joyful and even goofy is not, to me, diminishing—it is a testament to their humanness and their spirit in the face of genocidal violence. And in a city where young Black men are losing their lives at a heartbreaking rate, I will admit that I did not want to enter the conversation patiently. And Pass Over is many things but it, too, is not patient. In my many conversations about the play, several ensemble members reached out individually about their concerns regarding how the young Black men are represented in the work and what some of the outcomes of our producing the play might be—outcomes they felt I might be missing. To a man, they were generous with me, taking time to help me understand and contextualize their response. I know those conversations weren’t easy for them—I also imagine that it must have been exhausting for them to have to exercise that patience for a conversation that they must be pretty tired of having to initiate. There will continue to be questions about this work and all the work we do that takes on the divisive, poisonous spine of racism that has run through our country since its founding. It’s possible that some of those conversations will be as humane and loving as those our ensemble members chose to have with me. It is also true that more of these conversations will be shouted from opposite ends of a gulf in the perception of who and what we are responsible for and will take this country even further from one another or any kind of potential solution. And in the meantime, more young men will die. And that is the story we must never turn away from. Anna D. Shapiro, Artistic Director
6 Pass Over
Pass Over in rehearsal Photography by Joel Moorman
Cast member Ryan Hallahan
Cast member Julian Parker
Director Danya Taymor
Playwright Antoinette Nwandu
Cast member Jon Michael Hill*
*Steppenwolf ensemble member
Cast members Ryan Hallahan, Jon Michael Hill* and Julian Parker
*Steppenwolf ensemble member
Cast members Jon Michael Hill* and Julian Parker
Visit steppenwolf.org for videos, production images and more rehearsal images. 8 Pass Over
Pass Over Bios Ryan Hallahan (Mister/ Ossifer) is thrilled to return to Steppenwolf Theatre Company after appearing in this season’s Straight White Men. Other recent Chicago credits include Pericles, Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare In The Park: Midsummer, Cyrano De Bergerac (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); The Real Thing, A Streetcar Named Desire (Writers Theatre); Octagon (Jackalope Theatre); The Body Of An American (Stage Left); Posh (Steep Theatre, Jeff Award Winner- Best Ensemble); A Doll’s House (Definition Theatre Company); as well as work with Strawdog Theatre, Metropolis Performing Arts Center, Livewire Theatre and Chicago Dramatists. Television credits include Chicago Fire. He is represented by Actors Talent Group. “Special thanks to Mom, MA&JL, Jonathan, Tam and Paloma. In loving memory of my father, who I know would have loved to have been here.” Jon Michael Hill (Moses)
has been a Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble member since 2007, where he most recently appeared in Constellations. Other Steppenwolf credits include Head of Passes, The Hot L Baltimore, The Tempest, Kafka on the Shore, Superior Donuts (also Broadway; Outer Critic’s Circle Award; Tony and Drama League Award nominations) and The Unmentionables. Other theater credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Public Theater/Shakespeare in the Park); In the Red and Brown Water (Alliance Theater); and The Cure at Troy (Seattle Repertory Theatre). Jon made his opera debut as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Houston Grand Opera. Television and film credits include In the Radiant City, No Pay, Nudity, Elementary, Detroit 1-8-7, Eastbound and Down, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Person of Interest and Guiding Light. He received a BFA from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
Danya Taymor (Director)
Julian Parker (Kitch)
is excited to be making his Steppenwolf Theatre Company mainstage debut. Past Steppenwolf credits include The Gospel of Franklin (First Look 2013); BlackTop Sky (Garage Repertory 2013); and Head of Passes (understudy). Other theater credits include Genesis, Dutchman, The Brothers’ Size (Definition Theatre Company); Hamlet, Julius Caesar (Writers Theatre); Prowess (Jackalope Theatre); The Hairy Ape (Oracle Productions, Jeff Award Winner for Actor in Principal Role ); Charm (Northlight Theatre); and The Royale (American Theater Company). Television credits include The Chi, Chicago PD and Chicago Fire. Julian is a founding member of Definition Theatre Company. He received his BFA from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is represented by Grossman & Jack Talent.
(Playwright) is a New York-based playwright via Los Angeles. Her play Breach will receive a World Premiere at Victory Gardens Theater in February 2018. She is currently under commission from Echo Theater Company in Los Angeles. Antoinette’s plays have been supported by the Cherry Lane Mentor Project (mentor: Katori Hall), the Kennedy Center, Page73, Ars Nova, PlayPenn, Southern Rep, The Flea Theater, Naked Angels, Fire This Time and The Movement Theater Company. Honors include a spot on the 2016 Kilroys list, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, the Negro Ensemble Company’s Douglas Turner Ward Prize and a Literary Fellowship at the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference. Antoinette is an alum of the Ars Nova Play Group, the Naked Angels Issues PlayLab and the Dramatists Guild Fellowship. Additional honors include being named a Ruby Prize finalist, PONY Fellowship finalist, Page73 Fellowship finalist, NBT’s I Am Soul Fellowship finalist and two-time Princess Grace Award semi-finalist. Antoinette is a graduate of Harvard University, The University of Edinburgh and Tisch School of the Arts.
is a New York based director and translator. Recent work includes Antoinette Nwandu’s Flat Sam (PlayPenn); Nathan Yungerberg’s Esai’s Table (Cherry Lane Mentor Project); Justin Kuritzkes’ The Sensuality Party (The New Group); Susan Soon-He Stanton’s Cygnus (Women’s Project Theater); Brian Watkins’ Wyoming (Lesser America); My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer, Sarah Gancher’s The Place We Built (The Flea Theater); Dan McCabe’s Christina Martinez (Julliard); and an all-female Julius Caesar (Atlantic Stage 2). Translations include Alejandro Ricaño’s We Are Getting Better at Saying Goodbye and Luis Enrique Guitierrez Ortiz Monasterio’s I Hate Fucking Mexicans, which she also directed. Awards and fellowships include the 2014-2016 Time Warner Directing Fellow at Women’s Project, 2050 fellowship at New York Theatre Workshop. She is an Artist in Residence at Theatre for a New Audience, a member of Ensemble Studio Theater, and an Associate Artist at The Flea Theater. She is a frequent volunteer at Covenant House, where she teaches a master class in directing twice a year and has taught theater in Ecuador and Slovakia. Danya recieved her BA from Duke University. Upcoming work includes Martyna Majok’s Queens.
Wilson Chin (Scenic Design) returns to
Chicago after designing Lucia di Lammermoor at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. New play designs include Julia Cho’s Aubergine (Berkeley Repertory Theatre); Sam Hunter’s Lewiston (Long Wharf Theatre); Elizabeth Irwin’s My Mañana Comes (Playwrights Realm); Hansol Jung’s Wild Goose Dreams (La Jolla Playhouse); Meghan Kennedy’s Too Much, Too Much (Roundabout Underground); Jason Kim’s The Model American (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Mike Lew’s Tiger Style! (Huntington Theatre Company); Martyna Majok’s Cost of Living (Manhattan Theatre Club); Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons (Bucks County Playhouse); Geoffrey Nauffts’ Next Fall (Broadway); and Sharyn Rothstein’s By the Water (Manhattan Theatre Club/Ars Nova). wilsonchin.com
Dede Ayite (Costume Design) has previously worked at Steppenwolf Theatre Company on Marie Antoinette (2015 Jeff Award). Other recent credits include Tell Hector I Miss Him, Marie & Rosetta (Atlantic Theater Company) ; The Royale (Lincoln Center Theater); Ugly Lies the Bone (Roundabout Theatre Company); brownsville song (b-side for tray) (LCT3); The Last Tiger in Haiti (La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre); Bella: An American Tall Tale (Dallas Theater Center, Playwrights Horizons), UniSon, Henry IV, Part 1, The Wiz (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); The Blood Quilt (Arena Stage); Stagger Lee (Dallas Theatre Center); ToasT, Urban Retreat and Manahatta (The Public Theater). Television credits include Comedy Central, Fox Shortcoms and COPPER Project. Dede received her MFA from the Yale School of Drama. Marcus Doshi (Lighting Design) designs for
theatre, dance, opera and non-performance-based work. His designs have been seen internationally at The Barbican, Festival Lyric d’Aix-en-Provence, La Comédie Française, La Monnaie, Venice Biennale, Dutch National Opera, Holland Festival, Canadian Opera Company, Sydney Festival, many others. In the US with most major regional theatres and opera companies, and in Chicago with Steppenwolf Theatre Company (most recently Mary Page Marlowe, Visiting Edna and Linda Vista), Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Marcus is also a frequent collaborator with Theatre for a New Audience in NYC where he most recently designed The Skin of Our Teeth. He has degrees from Wabash College and Yale Drama, and is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Northwestern. marcusdoshi.com
Ray Nardelli (Sound Design and Original Music) returns to Steppenwolf Theatre Company where his credits include Wendall Greene, We All Went Down to Amsterdam and Absolution. Other credits include The Auditorium Theatre’s 125th Anniversary, Congo Square Theatre Company, American Theater Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Northlight Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, Lookingglass Theatre Company and Victory Gardens Theater. Regionally his work has appeared at Guthrie Bios 11
Theatre, Oregon Shakespreare Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Syracuse Stage, Alliance Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, McCarter Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Arena Stage, Hartford Stage Company and Alley Theatre. Mr. Nardelli has received four Jeff awards and eight Jeff nominations.
Cassie Calderone (Stage Manager) returns
to Steppenwolf Theatre Company after recently assistant stage managing Straight White Men. Recent credits include The Christians, Between Riverside and Crazy (Steppenwolf); The Heir Apparent and Othello (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). Chicago credits include: Betrayal, Gary, Fair Use, The Glass Menagerie (twice), To Kill a Mockingbird, fml: how Carson McCullers saved my life, Head of Passes, The Wheel, The Gospel of Franklin, Grand Concourse, Marie Antoinette, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Hushabye, Russian Transport, The Compass (Steppenwolf); Song for the Disappeared (Goodman Theatre); Grease, A Chorus Line (Paramount Theatre); The Homosexuals (About Face Theatre); Million Dollar Quartet (Chicago); The MLK Project (Writers Theatre); The Sparrow (Broadway in Chicago); and the Gay Games Opening Ceremony at Soldier Field. Regional credits include work with ArtsPower National Touring Theatre, Catharsis Productions, Opera Illinois and Portland Stage. Cassie is a proud member of AEA. “Many thanks to my little family for all their support.”
Anna D. Shapiro (Artistic Director) joined
the Steppenwolf ensemble in 2005 and was awarded the 2008 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for August: Osage County (Steppenwolf, Broadway, London). She was nominated in 2011 in the same category for The Motherf**ker with the Hat (Public Theater, Labyrinth Theater). Other directing credits at Steppenwolf include Visiting Edna, Mary Page Marlowe, Three Sisters, A Parallelogram, Up, The Crucible, The Unmentionables (also at Yale Repertory Theatre), The Pain and the Itch (also in New York), I Never Sang for My Father, Man from Nebraska, Purple Heart (also in Galway, Ireland), The Drawer Boy, Side Man (also in Ireland, Australia and Vail, Colorado), Three Days of Rain, The Infidel and This is Our Youth (which transferred to Broadway). Other Broadway credits include Of Mice and Men (with James Franco) and Fish in the Dark (with Larry David). Off-Broadway credits include Domesticated (Lincoln Center). She is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Columbia. She is a full professor in Northwestern University’s Department of Theatre.
David Schmitz (Executive Director) has worked at Steppenwolf Theatre Company for 11 years, serving in the roles of Director of Finance and Administration, General Manager and currently as Executive Director. Prior to working at Steppenwolf, David was the General Manager at Lookingglass Theatre Company, Associate Artistic Director of Stage Left Theatre and Business Manager at the entertainment agency Kathleen Barrett (Assistant Stage Manager) Adair Performance. Currently, he serves as Vice President of the Board for The House Theatre of is happy to return to Steppenwolf Theatre Chicago as well as on the boards of the League Company following her 2014/15 stage of Chicago Theatres and Arts Alliance Illinois. management apprenticeship. Steppenwolf credits David is a former board member for the Lincoln include work on The Fundamentals, Constellations, Park Chamber of Commerce and has worked as John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, The Herd and a strategic planning, business practices, finance Airline Highway. Recent credits include A Doll’s and hiring consultant for numerous Chicago House Part 2, Flora & Ulysses, Office Hour (South organizations, including The House Theatre of Coast Repertory); Cinderella at the Theater of Chicago, The Hypocrites and Stage Left Theatre, Potatoes (The Hypocrites); Hand to God (Victory among others. He holds a BA in theatre from the Gardens Theater); Far from Heaven (Porchlight University of Northern Colorado, an MFA from Music Theatre); and Gotta Dance (Broadway in the Theatre Conservatory at the Chicago College Chicago). She also stage manages for South Coast of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University and Repertory’s youth conservatory program. Kat a Certificate in Non Profit Management from Roosevelt University. holds a BA from Kalamazoo College in Michigan. 12 Bios
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Inside Pass Over
violation of his parole. So that’s just bonkers. Just so absurd.
A conversation with Antoinette Nwandu
So I took all of that frustration and anger I was feeling personally, and for my students and then this larger, political anger, specifically ignited by Trayvon Martin’s death, and I sat down to write this play. It was putting all those different feelings, all those frustrations into one big bucket and seeing what emerged. GH: The play also finds some of its inspiration from other texts, yes? The Exodus story and also Beckett’s Waiting for Godot? Can you offer some insight on those texts, and what they mean to you and this play?
Greta Honold, Audience Engagement Creative Producer: Can you speak about what inspired the play? Antoinette Nwandu: It was a dual inspiration, both personal and political. Personally, I was feeling lost in a wilderness that felt never-ending and absurd, especially when thinking about my writing career and where it was or wasn’t going. And the time and effort I’d put into this part of my life that just felt stuck. And then in the larger political climate, I felt reverberations of that same wandering, that same “lost-ness” because for every step forward the Black community makes—
specifically young Black men—there is this equal and opposite specter of violence that resists that forward progress. On the one hand Obama is elected president, for instance, but on the other documented violence against black and brown men is routinely sanctioned by the police and the justice system. It all sort of came together for me at my day job, actually. I was a professor at a community college and came face to face with an explicit example of that same opposition to progress that just sent me over the edge. In particular, there were two young men who became very good friends. One finished the semester and one did not because he found himself back in the system, because his parole officer said he couldn’t hang out with certain people, but those were the people in his neighborhood, so he was in this absurd Catch-22 type situation where going home and being at home was literally a
AN: The basics of the Exodus story are that these people who have been chosen by God are living as slaves, and Moses arrives on the scene and says basically “I’ve spoken to God and the promise is true. There is a land out there for us. We just have to head into the wilderness and we will get there. Our lives will be better, and we will have a place, we will have an identity, and we will have peace.” And when you connect that to the Black community, and specifically to the legacy of runaway slaves, the language of the Exodus story, of crossing the River Jordan, and the lexicon of passing over that barrier from the South to the North is very helpful to ground not only the moral imperative of that journey, but also to instruct yourself and others on the courage needed to take it. So for the Children of Israel, the start of their journey is like, yes! we’re going to have
But then, for various reasons, their severalmonth journey becomes a 40-year journey and the Children of Israel are forced to wander in the desert. It’s something we can say very casually now, like when I was a kid learning these stories in Sunday School, it was always a very casual thing, “oh, and then they wandered in the desert for forty years,” but if you’re on year 27 of a 40-year journey, I’m sure you’d start to wonder, “does this so-called promised land even exist? We’re walking in circles. We’re in the desert. Nothing is growing here. People are dying. This is terrible.” Or to connect it with the Black community, there’s a sense of, “hey, we got to the north, but guess what, these people are actually super-racist here too.” So in either case, that journey starts to feel repetitive, absurd even, because it involves this cyclical movement backward, or a lack of movement at all. And after a time the people on that journey, or who inherit the motions of that journey, start to feel like, wow, there is actually no point to any of this.
Beckett was the beginning of everything for me.
Illustration by Donovan Foote
Leading up to the first days of Pass Over rehearsal, playwright Antoinette Nwandu sat down with Steppenwolf’s Artistic and Marketing teams to talk about the play. Here is an excerpt from the conversation.
a home and things are going to get better. And for the Black community, it’s like, the arc of the moral universe definitely bends towards justice, which is awesome.
And then when you layer Beckett into the conversation, things get really interesting because in a lot of ways his worldview is just diametrically opposed with the Exodus story. I mean, in the Bible, things might seem absurd for a while, but the Israelites finally do get to the promised land. They get there.
It exists. It was a tough road, but it actually does exist. And of course in Waiting for Godot, no one gets anywhere. Godot never comes and waiting never ends. It just never ever ends. And so while I was layering in the different texts, I found myself caught in the middle of both of them, but feeling affinity for both of them. Especially since, as far as the theater goes, Beckett was the beginning of everything for me. I was an English major in college and I started out by reading Beckett’s novel trilogy (which no one reads) and I actually wrote my senior thesis on it and it’s insane. I loved it and so from there
the Red Sea, the River Jordan, the Ohio River maybe, if you’re a slave heading north. But the thing we know from the Exodus story is that the children of Israel were never in a position to pass over anything until the Angel of Death passed over them. So really, there’s two passing overs that have to happen—the Angel of Death has to pass over you, and if you survive, then you are free to journey forward and to pass over the river. The title uses and re-appropriates these conditionals for the modern situation. Aaron Carter, Artistic Producer: How would you describe the style of humor in the show? It lives in an interesting space.
We’re making jokes right now to remind ourselves that we’re alive, we’re together, and we’re trying to survive. Survival humor. I was like, “I gotta read everything this guy has written.” So, for a very long time with my play I felt like I had to choose sides: promised land or eternal waiting? But now what I’m doing is synthesizing what is cogent in each of those texts with what is happening in our world today. Erika Nelson, Marketing Director: Could you talk about the inspiration for the title Pass Over? AN: The reason why it’s two words is that it’s more about…passing…over. (Group laughs) So the passing over that I’m most focused on is passing over some barrier in order to reach the promised land. And in the origin texts, that’s usually a body of water:
AN: In the best possible world, I’d love for Moses and Kitch to be in the same family tree as Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, and obviously Didi and Gogo from Waiting for Godot. There was something in the dark humor and the unflinching barrenness and harshness of Beckett’s landscapes that just makes so much sense. I have an affinity for turn of the century Irish writers and mid-twentieth century Jewish writers and comedians, along with Black writers, of course. There’s something about those hardscrabble backgrounds and a hardscrabble life, and being able to lace in this acidic and acerbic humor to the whole situation that just feels like home for me. It’s language humor, of course, a humor
of opposites, but then it’s also humor that makes you ask “ok, why are we making jokes right now?” We’re making jokes right now to remind ourselves that we’re alive, we’re together, and we’re trying to survive. Survival humor. AC: Let’s talk about the “N” word. Do you have any response to the idea that people might be offended by that word? AN: Yeah, people will be offended by that word, but that doesn’t mean these men don’t deserve to be alive. The decision to lean in to the use of this language came right out of that time in my life when I was teaching. Because of the way I look and because of the way I dress, my students started letting their guard down around me. Before class I would just observe them talking and joking with each other. A lot of my black and brown students would use this word constantly. And for a long time my response was to simply police it, to shut it down because what’s what I thought a professor should do in those situations. And then at a certain point I thought “I can either spend all of my energy getting frustrated or I can enter into why and how my students are talking.” Then I got seduced by the language. By the poetry and the beauty and the danger of it. They use this word all the time, to describe themselves and to describe each other. It has myriad uses, some heinous and some gorgeous and deeply creative. And when you remove the judgment, you can actually just exist in that space with your students.
Basically, I realized I had a choice: I can either judge these young men, or I can love them where they’re at. And outside of being a teacher, I don’t really have that big a problem with the “n” word in most contexts, meaning within the Black community. I grew up around it, and as a writer I would never limit what words I have access to. Obviously, when it’s said within the context of hate speech, that’s something completely different and troubling that should not happen. But the line between permissible and forbidden usage is maybe thinner for me than it is for some people. It’s a line I don’t mind poking. So yes, it’s going to be offensive to some people and that’s fine. I don’t mind people living in that offense, but if we’re talking quite literally about a matter of life and death, a matter of respectability politics, then the language that these men use, or the fact that their language offends you, doesn’t negate their right to inherit whatever promise America purports to offer.
I can either judge these young men, or I can love them where they’re at.
Neel McNeill, Marketing Manager: What are you hoping your audience will take away from the production? What are you hoping to enlighten people with? AN: I’m here to be a witness to the truth. Full stop. To be a witness to what I see happening in the world today. People are going to take away what they bring in, and I don’t know what that is.
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AD Martha Lavey
February 1957 – April 2017
Martha Lavey, ensemble member and former Steppenwolf Artistic Director, passed away on Tuesday April 25 due to complications from a stroke she suffered the previous week. This stroke was in addition to the debilitating stroke she suffered in May of 2015, and from which she had been struggling to recover. She spent her last days as she lived, in the company and comfort of family, ensemble members and people who love her deeply. As faithful friends, audience members, donors, staff, artists, mentees and members of the Steppenwolf community, we were all indelibly impacted by Martha's passion, commitment, vision and unmatched intellect. Martha cared deeply for each and every one of us-no matter our relationship to her or the theatre. She will be dearly missed.
GO SEE MIND-BLOWING THEATER ON YOUR OWN TERMS. steppenwolf.org/red | 312-335-1650 |
The Steppenwolf Ensemble first began performing in the mid-1970s in the basement
of a Highland Park church, the ambitious brainchild of three high school and college friends: Jeff Perry, Terry Kinney and Gary Sinise. Fast forward 41 years and Steppenwolf Theatre Company has become the nation’s premier ensemble theater—redefining the landscape of acting and performance. The ensemble has grown to 49 members who represent a remarkable generation of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling, powerful, groundbreaking productions from Balm in Gilead and The Grapes of Wrath to August: Osage County—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf’s artistic force remains rooted in the original vision of its founders: an artist-driven theater, whose vitality is defined by its sharp appetite for groundbreaking, innovative work. That work is represented in production photos displayed throughout the theater.
The Steppenwolf Ensemble
K. TODD FREEMAN
JON MICHAEL HILL
TARELL ALVIN MCCRANEY
JAMES VINCENT MEREDITH
ANNA D. SHAPIRO
In the Downstairs Theatre Broadway-Bound
A world premiere by ensemble member Tracy Letts Directed by artistic director Anna D. Shapiro Featuring ensemble members Ian Barford, Francis Guinan and Tim Hopper November 9 – December 31, 2017
You Got Older In the Upstairs Theatre
A Chicago premiere by Jessica Dickey Directed by Hallie Gordon Featuring ensemble members Francis Guinan and John Mahoney September 7 – October 22, 2017
A world premiere by Aziza Barnes Directed by Nataki Garrett Featuring ensemble member Namir Smallwood December 7, 2017 – January 21, 2018
Guards at the Taj
A Chicago premiere by Rajiv Joseph Directed by ensemble member Amy Morton Featuring Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed May 31 – July 15, 2018
A Chicago premiere by Clare Barron Directed by Jonathan Berry Featuring ensemble members Glenn Davis, Audrey Francis and Caroline Neff January 25 – March 11, 2018
The Doppelgänger (an international farce)
A world premiere by Matthew-Lee Erlbach Directed by ensemble member Tina Landau Featuring ensemble members Alana Arenas, Gary Cole, Ora Jones, Sandra Marquez and James Vincent Meredith April 5 – May 20, 2018
A Chicago premiere by Jen Silverman Directed by Phylicia Rashad Featuring ensemble members Ora Jones and Sandra Marquez June 21 – August 5, 2018
Join us today | steppenwolf.org | 312-335-1650
Steppenwolf Staff Artistic
Jonathan Berry Aaron Carter Hallie Gordon Artistic Producers JC Clementz Casting Director Polly Hubbard Literary Manager Tam Dickson Casting Associate Francis Guinan Tracy Letts Amy Morton Yasen Peyankov Associate Artists
Hallie Gordon Artistic Director Megan Shuchman Education Director Jared Bellot Education Coordinator Emilio G. Robles Curriculum and Instruction Manager Ali Hoefnagel Amanda Dunne Acevedo Ashley Roberson Cara Greene Epstein Greg Geffrard Jazmin Corona Larry Grimm Mara Stern Sindy Castro Thom Pasculli Tiffany Fulson Wilfredo Ramos, Jr. Teaching Artists
Rachel D. Freund Director of Operations and Management Lupe Garcia Quiles Events Management Director Jackie Snuttjer Finance Director Jovito Alvarez Finance Manager Paul Miller Office Manager LaDonna Lane Human Resources Generalist Brian Hurst Finance Coordinator Mike Mroch Facilities Project Coordinator Gabriel Alaniz Events Management Associate George Costas IT Associate Adrianna Durantt Executive Administrator Rebecca Adelsheim Interim PLP Assistant
Anna D. Shapiro Artistic Director
Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry and Gary Sinise Executive Artistic Board
Molly Layton Group Sales Coordinator Sandy Karuschak Roseann Bishop Director of Development Membership Coordinator Eric Evenskaas Benjamin Adams Associate Director Craig Barnes of Development Rebecca Butler Courtney Anderson Rebekah Camm Director of Special Events Sarah Carter Juli Del Prete Kristy Conway Allison Diamond Director of Corporate and Victoria Gilbert Foundation Relations Elizabeth Gottman Leslie Mastroianni Dylan Grassl Campaign Director Kevin Greene Suzanne Miller Kenya Hall Annual Giving Director Annaliese McSweeney Max Lando Michael Russell Corporate Relations Manager Charles Strater Audience Services Jessica Gretch Individual Giving Manager Associates Karyn Todd Audience Outreach Donor Engagement Manager Joshua Cashman Sarah Giovannetti Audience Outreach Special Events Associate Manager A.J. Roy Spencer Blair Development Associate Audience Outreach Supervisor Chelsea Smith Campaign Assistant Benjamin Adams Charles Frydenberg Marketing, Wright Gatewood Communications Rukmini Girish & Audience Marilyn Hillary Services Brian Lee Isaiah Polstein John Zinn Michael Russell Director of Marketing Maggie Shreve and Communications Audience Outreach Donovan Foote Associates Design Director Madeline Long Operations Communications Director Cory Jeanes Erika Nelson Facilities Director Marketing Director Peter Van Kempen Greta Honold Facilities Manager Audience Engagement Adrian Castro Creative Producer Operations Coordinator Joel Moorman David Albert Digital Content Producer Harold Jaffe Kevin Castillo Facilities Staff Digital Marketing Manager Irukia Ahmed Ali Neel McNeill Victor David Marketing Manager Padam Dhungel Patrick Zakem Tul Ghaley Audience Engagement Madan Gurung Coordinator Noor Alam Islam Ababe Mekonen Jacqueline Rosas Shamshuddin Marketing Assistant Mohamed Shofi David Masnato Aminata Talawally Graphic Designer Bhagirath Timsina Leean Kim Torske Custodial Staff PR Assistant Casey VanWormer Audience Audience Services Director Experience Jimmy Freund Evan Hatfield Social Media Director and Director of Audience Audience Services Experience Supervisor Danielle Shindler Billie Rye Bryant Food & Beverage Director, Audience Services Manager Front Bar General Manager Stephanie Heller Jacob Lorenz Audience Services Front Bar Assistant Manager Subscription Manager Denise Yvette Serna Mike Brunlieb Front of House Manager Geehoon Lim Donald Coulson Audience Services Parking Manager Supervisors
Aaron Aptaker Audience Experience Coordinator Nick Burt David Clauson Maureen Davies Bryce Gangel Allison Heinz Megan Kaminsky Greg Mehl Sarah Mitchell Chrystle Morman Renato Sanchez Anthony Silvestri Dan Smeriglio Jessica Smith Shunna Tolliver Kelly Voke Lizzy Wigley Audience Experience Associates Cassandra Bowers Morgan Burkey Ben Burmeister Jake Drummond Quinn Hegarty Samuel Garrott Jared Hecht Dani Nicole James Juwan Lockett Alyson Morrill Savannah Reich Ashley Schilling Lukas Vlasnik Taleshia Walker Paris Wilson Front Bar Staff Angel Aguilar Mustafa Chaudry Sam Morales Gabriel Sanchez Parking Staff Jack Meyer and Lauren Louer, The Saints Volunteer Usher Coordination
Tom Pearl Director of Production Brianna Parry Associate Production Manager Erin Cook Company Manager and Assistant to the Artistic Director Mike Donohue Technical Director Chad Hain Associate Technical Director Christopher Kristant Assistant Technical Director Kyle Land Ryan Luwe Russell Scott Lydia Strini Scenic Carpenters Jon Woelfer Draftsperson
David Schmitz Executive Director Zoe Shiffrin Scenic Charge Artist Jenny DiLuciano Properties Master Emily Feder Jay Tollefsen Assistant Properties Masters Charles Moser Master Properties Artisan Aimee Plant Properties Artisan Shannon Higgins Wardrobe, Hair and Make Up Supervisor AJ Littlefield Staff Wardrobe Caryn Weglarz Klein Costume Director Mae Haskins Assistant Costume Designer Laurel Clayson Head Draper Lynae Vandermeulen Work Room Supervisor and Draper Daisy Lindas Assistant Costume Director Staci Weigum Costume Shop Assistant J. R. Lederle Lighting Supervisor Ernesto Gomez Master Electrician Rick Haefele House Carpenter Dawn Przybylski Stage Carpenter Martha Wegener Audio Engineer Gregor Mortis Assistant Audio Engineer Matthew Chapman 1700 Tech Coordinator Karen Thompson Light Board Operator Cassie Calderone Malcolm Ewen Christine D. Freeburg Laura D. Glenn Brian Maschka Stage Managers
Board of Trustees Executive Committee
Eric Lefkofsky, Chair Keating Crown, Vice Chair Deborah H. Quazzo, Secretary L. Heather Mitchell, Treasurer Henry S. Bienen Carole L. Brown Douglas R. Brown Elizabeth H. Connelly Nora Daley Rich Feitler Paul W. Goodrich Lynn Lockwood Murphy Kenneth J. Porrello Bruce Sagan Stephanie B. Smith John R. Walter Helen Zell
Sarah Beardsley Michael W. Bender Marlene Breslow-Blitstein Ebs Burnough Robin Tennant Colburn Beth Boosalis Davis Amy Eshleman Juliette Feld D. Cameron Findlay Lawrence M. Gill Matthew Gray Robert J. Greenebaum, Jr. Caryn Harris John Hart Jon Michael Hill Dennis D. Howarter George A. Joseph Donna La Pietra Tina Landau Tracy Letts Mary Ludford Ronald J. Mallicoat, Jr. Holly Maloney Tarell Alvin McCraney David E. Mendelsohn Verett Mims Christopher M. Murphy Katherine Nardin Yasen Peyankov David C. Pisor Merle Reskin Cari B. Sacks Robert Sanborn Manuel “Manny” Sanchez Anna D. Shapiro Matthew Shapiro Colette Cachey Smithburg Elliot A. Stultz Bryan Traubert
Emeritus Trustees J. Robert Barr Lawrence Block Michael Cahan John N. Fox, Jr. Gloria Scoby
Past Chairpersons William L. Atwell Larry D. Brady Douglas R. Brown Nora Daley Laurence Edwards John N. Fox, Jr. Elliott Lyon Gordon Murphy William H. Plummer Bruce Sagan Gloria Scoby Donna Vos
Professional Leadership Program
Grace Bolander Abbey Bumbledare Cosette Craig Jacob Goodman Nina Jayashankar Yianni Kinnas Roshni Lavelle Gabrielle Muñoz Hanna Samawi Melanie Thompson Sara Torres Daniel Washelesky Lindsey Zeritis
Agency of Record Grip
In the Neighborhood
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With your help Steppenwolf gives back to our community. Donors like you…
Accessibility at Steppenwolf Committed to providing services and programming that enhance the experience of guests with disabilities, Steppenwolf is proud to feature: • Assistive listening devices in our Downstairs, Upstairs and 1700 theaters. • Audio-described performances, artistic conversations and touch tours of the stage for patrons who are blind or have low vision. • Sign language-interpreted and open-captioned performances for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Induction hearing loops in the 1700 and Downstairs Theatre If you use a hearing aid or cochlear implant that has a T-Coil, feel free to turn it on for the performance! The 1700 Theatre and both levels of the Downstairs Theatre are equipped with induction loops, installed with the help and expertise of Assistive Hearing Systems Ltd. Individual portable neck loops are available in our Upstairs Theatre—just ask any member of the house staff if you’d like to use one.
… Create an artistic home for our ensemble of 48 actors, directors and playwrights—allowing them to practice their craft here, for Chicago audiences
… Bring more than 900 local veterans and active service members every year to Veterans’ Night: dinner and the final dress rehearsal of each of our mainstage plays, at no charge
… Inspire thousands of local teens through Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which provides professional productions to more than 15,000 students, teachers and family audiences every year
… Make live theatre accessible for everyone: Open Captioning, Sign Language Interpretation, Audio Description and Touch Tours available for audience members at all mainstage shows
… Allow us to commission new plays and diversify the voices heard in American theater
For more information visit steppenwolf.org/support, or contact Donor Services at 312-654-5617.
Steppenwolf’s induction loop was made possible in part by a generous gift from John Hart and Carol Prins. Would you like to utilize or learn more about these services? Audience Services 312-335-1650 | TTY 312-335-3830 | E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Steppenwolf Customer Service Tips Driving to the theater? Rather than arriving to discover that our garage has reached capacity (which can happen during busy performances), please enter the Steppenwolf Parking Hotline (312-335-1774) into your cell phone and call us when you’re a few minutes away from the theater—we’ll tell you if there’s still space available in our facility, or suggest the most convenient alternative. Spending your intermission in line at the bar? Enjoy the entire break by ordering and paying for your intermission refreshments before the show. When you exit the theater at the end of the first act, your drinks will be waiting for you. Need restaurant information or the score of the ballgame? Please visit our book shop and information desk at the south end of the main floor lobby. Hailing a cab after the play? This is typically an easy affair—Halsted is a busy street and sees a fair amount of taxi traffic. If you’d like assistance hailing a cab or calling a company, though, just ask a member of the house staff; we’re happy to help.
Lost or Found? On-site? Please check in with a member of the house staff. Already left? Call the Front of House office at 312-932-2445. Want to provide feedback? Your input is always valuable to us. Have an opinion about the play or artistic content? Stick around for the post-show discussion featured after every performance, fill out the survey inserted in this program or join the conversation at facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre. Have a comment about your overall experience at the theater ? Please ask us for a customer service form to fill out, or e-mail us at email@example.com. Need to contact a patron during a performance? If you need to contact a patron during a performance in our Downstairs or Upstairs Theaters, please call our Concierge Desk at 312-932-2476. Hours: one hour prior to curtain until 15 minutes after curtain call.
Latecomers will be seated at the discretion of the House Manager. The theater reserves the right to limit admission of children younger than the age of six. The taking of photographs and the use of any type of recording device is not allowed in the theater during performances and is a violation of state and federal copyright laws. Digital media will be deleted, and tape or film will be confiscated. Photo/Video Disclaimer: During your visit, you or members of your family may be filmed, videotaped, and/or photographed by a Steppenwolf employee, contract photographer or the media. Your attendance at Steppenwolf events serves as permission for the use of your image, or the image of your family members, by Steppenwolf.
Content Disclaimer: Steppenwolf does not offer advisories about subject matter, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have any questions about content, age-appropriateness or stage effects (such as strobe lights or theatrical fog) that might have a bearing on patron comfort, please contact the box office at 312-335-1650.
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