The Brothers Size

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WELCOME TO THE BROTHERS SIZE Tarell Alvin McCraney believes theater can change lives. In fact, he himself is living proof of this idea. Growing up in the public housing projects of Miami, Tarell was exposed to theater at a young age, through an arts education program. He performed at halfway houses and drug rehabilitation centers to tell stories through drama. To him, theatre demonstrated its transformative capacity to bring people together by presenting stories that reflected their experience. Tarell wrote The Brothers Size while he was still in college, and it later become part of his celebrated three-play cycle, The Brother/ Sister Plays, about a community in the bayou, and how the lives of its people intersect. Steppenwolf produced all three plays in repertory almost 10 years ago, and I was thunderstruck. I deeply felt then, and have remained convinced over the intervening years, how important and valuable it would be to bring these stories to a wider audience of young people. The Brothers Size in particular stuck with me for many reasons: the haunting beauty of its language, the intimacy and authenticity of the family relationships at its center, the universal need for comfort and closeness, and the agonizing legacies of incarceration, not only in the life of the individual in prison, but for the people closest to them, as well. In the way of great artists, Tarell has an uncommon ability to transform the pain and despair of his own past into deeply human and compassionate stories that connect us all. Our society must reckon with our history of systemic racism, of which the mass incarceration of people of color is one of its most devastating legacies. One need look no further than our own city to find ample evidence of this, and books like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander or films like When They See Us, and 13th both by Ava DuVernay. Tarell has found a poetic way for us to share in the emotional costs of incarceration, and its lasting effects on two brothers, Ogun and Oshoosi. The play demonstrates how incarceration can last forever, even after one is released from prison, and shows us the sobering reality that freedom, real freedom, can only be enjoyed by the few among us born into privilege, and how the bonds of a brother’s love is more liberating and transcendent than any illusion of freedom bestowed by systems of power. Hallie Gordon, Artistic Director, Steppenwolf for Young Adults





16 O GUN’S BROTHER IS MISSING: AN INTERVIEW WITH PLAYWRIGHT TARELL ALVIN MCCRANEY Transcribed by Education Manager Jared Bellot 18 THE COSMOLOGY BEHIND THE STORY By former Young Adult Council Member and Chicago Public High School student Tyra Smith

EDITOR Jacqueline Corte

CONTRIBUTORS Jared Bellot Natasha Freeman Hallie Gordon Claire Haupt A.J. Roy Tyra Smith Lowell Thomas Patrick Zakem

DESIGN Donovan Foote

COVER Illustration by Donovan Foote

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INDIVIDUAL PRODUCTION SPONSOR Nora Daley and Sean Conroy INDIVIDUAL SUPPORTERS OF STEPPENWOLF EDUCATION Anonymous Ann and Richard Carr Robert and Louise Sanborn Andrew and Amy Bluhm Lynn Lockwood Murphy and Barrett B. Murphy Anne and Don Phillips Cari and Michael J. Sacks Steppenwolf’s young professionals board, the Steppenwolf Associates, dedicates its support to Steppenwolf Education. Steppenwolf Education is a citywide partner of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) School Partner Program.

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Anna D. Shapiro† Artistic Director

David Schmitz Executive Director

Hallie Gordon Artistic Director of SYA



Alvin McCraney† Directed by Monty Cole FEATURING

Patrick Agada*, Manny Buckley* and Rashaad Hall*

PRODUCTION Yu Shibagaki+ Scenic Design Mieka van der Ploeg+ Costume Design Claire Chrzan Lighting Design Jeffrey Levin Sound Design Rasean Davonte Johnson+ Projection Design Hallie Gordon Artistic Producer Tom Pearl Director of Production JC Clementz, CSA Casting Director Michelle Medvin* Production Stage Manager

World premiere of The Brothers Size produced by the Foundry Theater (Melanie Joseph, Producing Artistic Director) and the Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Mara Manus, Executive Director). U.K. stage premiere produced by the Young Vic Company. World premiere of The Brother/Sister Plays produced by the Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Andrew D. Hamingson, Executive Director), and McCarter Theatre Center (Emily Mann, Artistic Director; Timothy J. Shields, Managing Director). The Brother/Sister Plays were developed with the support of McCarter Theatre Center

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. ‡ member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a national theatrical labor union.


CAST AND CONTRIBUTORS CAST (in alphabetical order) Patrick Agada* Oshoosi Manny Buckley* Ogun Rashaad Hall* Elegba UNDERSTUDIES (in alphabetical order)

Breon Arzell Ogun Ben F. Locke Oshoosi Jarred Webb Elegba SETTING San Pere, Louisiana near the Bayou. Distant Present. This play will be presented without an intermission. Entry and re-entry to the theater after this performance begins is not guaranteed. There will be a post-show discussion following the performance. † 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.

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ADDITIONAL STAFF Matt Hawkins Fight Choreographer Breon Arzell Movement Consultant Max Burger, Devin O’Leary Additional Carpenters Elyse Balogh, Meghan Erxleben, Lee Moore Additional Paint Kenya Hall Research Associate Yeaji Kim Projections Programmer Tim McMath Assistant Scenic Designer Sarah Beck Wardrobe Eli Hunstad, Hailey Rakowiecki and Megan Turner Stitchers Dana Nestrick Craft Artisan Elise Petrucci First Hand Nikki Konomos Stage Management Apprentice Jared Bellot, Greg Geffrard, Lavina Jadhwani, Lauren Katz, Derek Matson, Neel McNeill and Leean Kim Torske Post Show Discussion Moderators The theater reserves the right to limit admission of children younger than the age of six. 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.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT We recognize that Steppenwolf Theatre sits on Native land. This area is the traditional homelands of the people of the Council of Three Fires, including the Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Odawa. Although for over 200 years Native Nations have been forcibly removed from this territory, we must acknowledge that this land continues to be a site of gathering and healing for more than a dozen other Tribal Nations and remains home to over 100,000 tribal members in the state of Illinois. What is a land acknowledgement? A land acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous communities and their traditional territories. The purpose of recognizing the original inhabitants of a land is to show respect, gratitude, and appreciation to those whose land we reside on, as well as raising awareness about histories that are often erased or forgotten. It is important to understand the longstanding history that has brought us to reside on land currently occupied by non-Indigenous persons, and to pursue an understanding of everyone’s place within that history. Land acknowledgements do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation.

For further resources around Land Acknowledgements, please visit: American Indian Center Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research Group A politically-oriented, social justice organization connected to Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Ontario) “Indigenous Land Acknowledgement, Explained” Teen Vogue Article (February 2018) We are very grateful to our friends at the American Indian Center—Chicago, specifically Fawn Pochel, for their guidance on Steppenwolf Education’s new practice around Land Acknowledgements. 5

THE BROTHERS SIZE IN REHEARSAL Photography by Lowell Thomas

Cast member Patrick Agada

*Steppenwolf ensemble member

Director Monty Cole and cast member Rashaad Hall

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Cast members Rashaad Hall and Patrick Agada

*Steppenwolf ensemble member

Cast members Patrick Agada, Manny Buckley and Rashaad Hall

Visit for videos, production images and more rehearsal images.

THE BROTHERS SIZE BIOS Patrick Agada (Oshoosi) is excited to make his Steppenwolf debut. Chicago credits include: Something Clean, You For Me For You (Sideshow/ Rivendell Theatre); Dutch Masters (Jackalope Theatre, Jeff Award); Choir Boy, The Play About My Dad (Raven Theatre); Superior Donuts (Open Door Theatre); Dunsinane, Q Brother’s Christmas Carol, Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Jabari Dreams of Freedom (Chicago Children’s Theatre). Regional credits include Blue Man Group (Astor Place Theatre). TV credits include Chicago Fire. He is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent. Manny Buckley (Ogun) returns to Steppenwolf. He was previously seen in Of Mice and Men, George Orwell’s 1984 in SYA and Hit the Wall in Garage Rep. Manny is an ensemble member of American Blues Theater where he has been seen in Waiting For Lefty, Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, Dutchman/TRANSit and Six Corners. Television credits include Chicago Fire, Proven Innocent and Sirens. Film credits include Pilgrim, Sugar and Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing. Mr. Buckley is the recipient of a Black Theater Alliance Award, Black Excellence Award and teacher of the year award for 2019.

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Rashaad Hall (Elegba) is thrilled to return to Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Chicago credits include True West, Lord of the Flies (Steppenwolf Theatre, understudy); The Displaced (Haven Theatre); Hairy Ape (Oracle, Jeff nomination for Best Ensemble); Welcome to Jesus (American Theatre Co.); How to Catch Creation, Teddy Ferrara, A Christmas Carol and The Convert (Goodman Theatre); Time is on Our Side (About Face Theatre); Electra (Court Theatre) and All Our Tragic (Hypocrites Theatre). Web Series Credits Brown Girls and The Right Swipe. Film Credits include Rendezvous in Chicago, An Acceptable Loss and The Play Cycle. Rashaad is proudly represented by Paonessa Talent. Monty Cole (Director) has directed productions, readings and workshops for The Goodman Theatre, Center Theatre Group, The Alley Theatre, The Court Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, American Theatre Company, The Gift Theatre, The House Theatre of Chicago, Cape Cod Theatre Project, Oracle Productions, the Chicago Theater Marathon, California Institute of the Arts and others. Cole directed the critically acclaimed and Jeff Award-winning production of The Hairy Ape for Oracle Productions. Monty is currently adapting John Howard Griffin’s classic memoir Black Like Me for the stage and collaborating with choreographer

Breon Arzell on a new iteration of In Dahomey, the first black Broadway musical. Next up in Chicago, Cole will direct a workshop production of Incendiary by Dave harris for The Goodman Theatre’s New Stages Festival. He would like to thank his wife for her love and support. Tarell Alvin McCraney (Playwright) is an acclaimed playwright & screenwriter and since 2010, ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. His script In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue is the basis for the Oscar-winning film Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins, for which McCraney and Jenkins won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. He also wrote the film High Flying Bird which recently premiered on Netflix directed by Steven Soderbergh. McCraney’s plays include The Brother/Sister Plays trilogy, Head of Passes, Wig Out! and Choir Boy which was nominated for 2019 Tony Award. McCraney is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, the Whiting Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, the Windham Campbell Award and a Doris Duke Artist Award. He is currently Chair of Playwriting at Yale School of Drama and a member of Teo Castellanos/ D-Projects. McCraney is currently working on an original scripted TV series, David Makes Man, for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network, produced by Michael B. Jordan and Page Fright Productions.

Yu Shibagaki (Scenic Design) is a Chicago and NYC based set designer, born and raised in Japan. Recent Chicago credits include Cambodian Rock Band, Fun Home, The House That Will Not Stand, Appropriate, MOJADA (Victory Gardens Theater); Witch, Vietgone (Writers Theatre); Mansfield Park (Northlight Theatre); The Father, Both Your Houses (Remy Bumppo Theatre); X, HeLa, Truth and Reconciliation, Antigonick (Sideshow Theatre Company) and more. Regional credits include Cambodian Rock Band (City Theatre Company, Merrimack Theatre Repertory); Pride and Prejudice (Heritage Theatre Festival); Engaging Shaw, The Maids, The Island, The Year of Magical Thinking (American Players Theatre) and more. Mieka van der Ploeg (Costume Design) is a costume designer based in Chicago. Credits include designs with Court Theater, Writers Theatre, Lyric Opera Unlimited, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare, Lookingglass Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Remy Bumppo, Second City, Redmoon, The Hypocrites, Chicago Children’s Theatre, About Face Theatre, Steep Theatre, The House Theatre, Theater Wit, Albany Park Theater Project, and Manual Cinema. She is a member of USA829. Claire Chrzan (Lighting Design) is a Chicago based lighting designer for theatre and dance. Recent credits include Radio Golf, Frankenstein (Court Theatre); Yen, Suddenly

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…cont’d Bios

Last Summer (Raven Theatre); The Room, The Mutilated (A Red Orchid Theatre); Hamlet (The Gift); Fun Harmless Warmachine (The New Colony); We’re Gonna Die, Fear and Misery in the Third Reich (Haven) Caught (Sideshow); Dada Woof Papa Hot, Bull in a China Shop (About Face); Winning Works (2017-2019; Joffrey Ballet’s Joffrey Academy). In her spare time, Claire is a facilitator with the ABLE ensemble (Artists Breaking Limits and Expectations). Jeffrey Levin (Sound Design) is happy to be designing at Steppenwolf for the first time. Jeffrey is a composer, sound designer, and musician based in Chicago. He has contributed original music and sound designs for over 100 productions for many theatre companies in and outside of Chicago. Awards and recognitions for work in theatre include ten Joseph Jefferson Award Nominations for Sound Design and Original Music and one win for The Hairy Ape (Oracle Productions) also directed by Monty Cole. Masters of Music DePaul University and Bachelors of Music Columbia College Chicago. Rasean Davonte Johnson (Projection Design) returns to Steppenwolf for Young Adults where he previously worked on The Burn as well as Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s The Great Leap, MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT, La Ruta, You Got Older and BLKS. A Chicago based video artist and theatrical designer, he

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has had the opportunity to work with institutions such as The Public Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Geva Theatre Center, Berkshire Theatre Group, Alliance Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Court Theatre, The Hypocrites, Dallas Theatre Center, Timeline Theatre Co., The Kitchen Theatre, Teatro Vista, Collaboraction, American Theatre Company, Manual Cinema, and internationally with the Ningbo Song and Dance Company and B-Floor Theatre. MFA: Yale School of Drama.

Michelle Medvin (Production Stage Manager) is thrilled to return to Steppenwolf. Favorites over many years with the company include We Are Proud to Present a Presentation…, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, two versions of The Crucible, August: Osage County, Purple Heart (also at Ireland’s Galway Arts Festival), and The Pillowman, among others. She has also worked with Northlight Theatre, Drury Lane, Victory Gardens, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Hartford Stage, Dallas Theater Center, and Portland Center Stage. Michelle serves as Production Manager and Adjunct Faculty at Governors State University. She is proud to be a member of Actors’ Equity, a graduate of Smith College, wife to Mary, and mama to Elliott, Lena, and Samuel.

Associate Artistic Director of Stage Anna D. Shapiro (Artistic Director) Left Theatre and Business Manager joined the Steppenwolf ensemble at the entertainment agency Adair in 2005 and was awarded the Performance. Currently, he serves 2008 Tony Award for Best Direction as Vice President of the Board for of a Play for August: Osage The House Theatre of Chicago as County (Steppenwolf, Broadway, well as on the boards of the League London). She was nominated in of Chicago Theatres and Arts 2011 in the same category for The Alliance Illinois. David is a former Motherf**ker with the Hat (Public board member for the Lincoln Park Theater, Labyrinth Theater). Other Chamber of Commerce and has directing credits at Steppenwolf worked as a strategic planning, include The Minutes, Visiting Edna, business practices, finance and hiring Mary Page Marlowe, Three Sisters, consultant for numerous Chicago A Parallelogram, Up, The Crucible, organizations, including The House The Unmentionables (also at Yale Repertory Theatre), The Pain and the Theatre of Chicago, The Hypocrites and Stage Left Theatre, among others. Itch (also in New York), I Never Sang He holds a BA in theatre from the for My Father, Man from Nebraska, Purple Heart (also in Galway, Ireland), University of Northern Colorado, an MFA from the Theatre Conservatory The Drawer Boy, Side Man (also in Ireland, Australia and Vail, Colorado), at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University and a Three Days of Rain, The Infidel and This Is Our Youth (which transferred to Certificate in Non Profit Management from Roosevelt University. 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 Theater). 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 14 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, Bios 11

CITY CONNECTIONS Partnering with others to use the arts to empower young people

WHAT IS CITY CONNECTIONS City Connections is Steppenwolf Education’s community engagement model rooted in building authentic and mutually beneficial long-term partnerships. By partnering with organizations that share our mission of using the arts to empower youth, we find authentic ways to bring barrier-free programming into communities we don’t currently serve, with the hope that young and emerging adults can feel inspired to join us at Steppenwolf. To learn more, contact Education Manager Jared Bellot at

Partnering with Steppenwolf has been really impactful. I can see the change in the youth. This partnership is beautiful because these kids need creativity. Steppenwolf sharing their workshops and knowledge of the arts to our kids is more profound than I think most of us realize. —Max Cerda Street Intervention Specialist Build, Inc



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An Interview with Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney

Transcribed by Education Manager

Jared Bellot

Jared Bellot: Tarell, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me about our upcoming production of your play, The Brothers Size. I’m curious, what is the origin for this story? Tarell Alvin McCraney: The Brothers Size is one of the first plays I ever wrote. I’ve been a writer most of my life, but it is one of the first full pieces of mine that wasn’t just a one act or a sketch of something. It is also one of the few pieces that I wrote while I was in Chicago. I wrote it my last year 14 Features

at The Theatre School at DePaul University alongside In Moonlight, Black Boys Look Blue (the source for the film Moonlight), so the two are sort of companion pieces. Both represent moments in my life when I was trying to understand both who I was as a person in the world, and also who I was as the oldest brother of two younger brothers. The Brothers Size is based on a kind of raw form of theatre that I had been learning about at school and getting to experience

Illustration by Donovan Foote

In the lead up to The Brothers Size, Education Manager reached out to playwright, Academy Award winner, MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient and Steppenwolf Ensemble Member Tarell Alvin McCraney. The two spoke about the origin stories, language and the passing of time alongside The Brothers Size and McCraney’s hopes for the play.

at various theaters around the city. I was lucky enough to have seen August Wilson plays at The Goodman and Peter Brooks’ Hamlet at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and I had the opportunity to work with director Tina Landau on Theatrical Essays here at Steppenwolf. Through these experiences I was able to witness what it meant to engage with theatre in a way that broke out past the fourth wall. I was able to witness theater where characters spoke directly to the audience, engaging them in the story that they wanted to tell. JB: What questions or themes did you want to explore when you set out to write this play? TAM: The play is based on a lot of stories that happened in my life but that also happened in a larger way. I wanted to explore what it meant to be a part of the American Dream. I was being launched out into the world with this college degree into a place of milk and honey, and yet I felt a great responsibility to take care of my younger brother, who was incarcerated. I felt a great responsibility to make sure the generational poverty that had plagued us all our lives didn’t consume us. And I knew that no amount of degree or professional training was going to shield me from the onslaught of racism and patriarchy that

were going to find me as a black person. More than anything, I think the play was there to explore something that I couldn’t put words to at the time—and probably still can’t—which is that the prison industrial complex destroys families and changes lives forever. And not just the lives of the people who are incarcerated, but the lives of all of the people around them as well. My brother came out of jail completely changed, and there was no way to help him. I did not have the tools, the resources, the access—and still don’t—to make his life better. And that haunted me. That haunts me still. To have to watch him suffer—I have no words for it. So all I could do was write about it. Write about the resentment and the guilt and all of those things. JB: Can you speak a bit about your decision to ground your personal experiences in the world of Yoruba cosmology? TAM: The piece had been in my heart and in my mind for a while, but I didn’t write it down and it didn’t become a play until I came across a simple two line Yoruba poem that basically says: “Ogun’s brother is missing. Ogun builds tools to find him.” When I read that I thought: That’s my life. I know that life. I know what it’s like to miss my brothers. To not know where they are. And Features 15

then make a way to find them. The Brothers Size was my way to find them. JB: The language of this play is so beautiful. Something that may be surprising about experiencing this play for audiences is how characters often speak aloud their actions, alongside their dialogue. Can you talk a bit about how/why language operates the way it does in this play? TAM: I like to describe The Brothers Size as a fable told in the now. In the script, I refer to the setting as the “distant present.” Which is my way of indicating that this story happens somewhere between now and then. When you tell a story it’s always in the past, but this past can be repeated. It can be made new in front of you. Each time the actor tells you where they are, what they are doing, they are reminding you that the story is being unfolded for you in a new way that has never happened before. JB: This play first premiered here in Chicago at Steppenwolf almost a decade ago, in 2010. What is it like thinking about this play 10 years later? Has anything changed? TAM: It terrifies me that this play is almost 20 years old, yet its themes remain wildly relevant. My brother, to this day, still has a hard time finding or keeping a job. There are people who are being let out of jail right now that 16 Features

are dealing with the same issues, there are still families being torn apart by the prison industrial complex in my home state of Florida, and across the country. As an artist, you always want to make sure that you have work that is relevant. But at the same time, when you write about themes like these, you also wish that you had a period piece. That you made something that was about a time that happened a long time ago and now we can do a play where the world doesn’t look like that anymore. That is just not the case with The Brothers Size. The same issues that plagued those three men in the play plague them now. JB: You’ve spoken a lot about how others’ perception informs your work as an artist and the importance of creating stories that amplify our authentic selves. How do you see The Brothers Size fulfilling this mission of amplifying your story and the stories of your communities? TAM: I think most young people can relate to the notion of being presented with the options of what our lives can be. In school environments, we are constantly being pointed or pushed in a particular direction based on how we learn, and whether that learning style is deemed is deemed “good” or “bad.” And if a young person doesn’t fit our mold, we exclude them from

the conversation. And then they have to go home, to generations of poverty, and figure out what to do with their lives. And often times, the answer is a life that looks like crime. I’ve said often, I had way more opportunities or invitations to join what people would think of as organized crime than invitations to join the gifted program. I got one invitation to the gifted program, I had constant invitations to be the lookout boy, to be a drug mule, to help around the “neighborhood.” And there’s a community there. So what is a person to do? Is a person to shun their community in order to engage in this one opportunity at a place that barely pays attention to them in the first place? It’s necessary that we think of these young people, particularly in this story, these young men, fully, in terms of the pressures that they are getting. And I think that is one of the reasons this play is so important to me— because its not about trying to take on the entire system, it’s about the intimate moments that these people do in response to that system. What is the best thing that you can do for a person who feels caught or caged? What can you do? I think that the play tries to answer that. JB: Thousands of students from across the Chicagoland area will be seeing the show. What do you

hope that they will take away from it? TAM: I hope it effects change. I hope the play gets people thinking about their loved ones and other people’s loved ones. I hope that people see the play and think more sensitively about people who are convicted of crimes, especially non-violent crimes. We need to figure out what our justice looks like because those people, those non-violent offenders who are convicted, go into a prison system that doesn’t rehabilitate them, and more than likely, hinders them. They receive a trauma that is worse than what they have before and then they are pushed to rely on the system to eek out some sort of existence, which destroys the potential they could have had for a life. This play asks large questions. It asks, “What do we do? How do we free people who feel caged? How do we provide some sort of freedom and life for those people who feel like they’ve been stripped of that?” And I bet our audiences will have answers. I bet those young people will have lots to say about that. And we better be ready to listen. We better be ready to pick up and understand, and even implement their thoughts. Because if not, we’ve wasted an incredible opportunity. Features 17

An Egungun Festival photographed in Nigeria

THE COSMOLOGY BEHIND THE STORY By former Young Adult Council Member and Chicago Public High School student Tyra Smith

Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brothers Size incorporates Yoruba cosmology to tell the story of two brothers, Ogun and Oshoosi. In this article, we will explore who the Yoruba people are and the mark they’ve made on not only this play, but other contemporary influences as well.

Who are the Yoruba and what is their modern influence?

Yoruba is an ethnic group composed of over 40 million people who reside in present day Benin, Togo and southwestern Nigeria and share a common language and culture. Due to the Transatlantic Slave Trade, many Yoruba people 18 Features

were forced to come to North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean between the 16th and 19th centuries. This forced migration of Yoruba people has led to a blending of multiple religions and cultures representing a fusion of African, indigenous, and European traditions such as: voodoo (practiced in Haiti) and Santeria

(practiced throughout Latin America). Today, a number African Americans in the United States practice iterations of Yoruba spiritual practices and Yoruba imagery has appeared in popular culture such as: Beyoncé’s “Hold Up” music video, author Tomi Adeyemi’s young adult fantasy series Legacy of Orisha, and rapper Princess Nokia’s Santeria-inspired music.

Yoruba Culture and The Brothers Size

Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney has noted that The Brothers Size draws on elements, icons, and stories from the Yoruba cosmology most notably through the names and traits of its characters. The names of each character (Ogun, Oshoosi, and Elegba) are derived from and inspired by Yoruba gods and deities. For example, the deity Ogun is the god of iron, and in the play the character Ogun Size is an auto mechanic. Similarly, the deity Oshoosi, who is tied to hunting, has an innate connection to survival. In The Brothers Size, the audience experiences what survival means for Oshoosi Size as he lives as a formerly incarcerated person on parole. Yoruba religion associates Elegba with deception and crossroads and the character Elegba appears beside Oshoosi—literally and in his dreams—and drives the action at the heart of the play.

The Power of Storytelling

Yoruba inspired imagery is a common trend among present day artists including (from top to bottom) musical icon Beyoncé, author Tomi Adeyemi, and rapper Princess Nokia

We also see parallels between The Brothers Size and the importance of griots and oral storytelling in Yoruba culture. Griots are people whose role in society is to remember the histories of their people and be able to relay the history verbally. These historians also use music to preserve the past—a technique that is also utilized in Features 19

this play. Oshoosi is described as having a sweet and powerful voice. He has the gift of singing songs that touches others in their soul. In the play, Oshoosi sings songs by prominent black icons such as Otis Redding, a nod to popular songs that help define modern-day African American history and represent the African American experience.

Immersive in Nature

The Brothers Size constructs an immersive experience that breaks conventions of Western theater. In most Western theater, the fourth wall is present—an imaginary boundary between the performers onstage and the audience in the house. Performances from the Yoruba tradition are more immersive. An example of this is the annual Egungun festival, where a select group Yoruba people don masks and garb (the Egungun) in order to embody the spirits of their ancestors and communicate between the learn iving and the dead. Upon request, the Egungun can embody a deceased person’s voice or reenact former arguments the deceased person partook in for a living relative. The festival is not performed on the stage. Rather it takes place mostly outside where townspeople can interact with the Egungun and are able to watch from any angle they choose.

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Experiencing The Brothers Size

When you see The Brothers Size, you are experiencing a unique piece of theater resulting from McCraney’s creativity and the mixing of Yoruba, AfricanAmerican, and European cultures. These elements are employed to compose a distinct story reflective of our modern times.



Curated by Steppenwolf’s own Young Adult Council, The Scene is an exclusive opportunity for teens to score a cheap ticket to a Steppenwolf production, meet the artists involved with the play, and connect with likeminded teens. Each ticket includes dinner and a post-show discussion with the actors.

Step In workshops are a free series that offer teens the chance to participate in hands-on theatre workshops led by some of the hottest theater artists we know, all while getting to learn more about the Steppenwolf Young Adult Council, an afterschool program for teens interested in careers in the arts.



Purchase tickets at the door one half-hour before the show, in advance online, or in advance by calling Steppenwolf Audience Services at 312-335-1650 and use code YACSCENE.

To reserve your spot, please RSVP to Education Associate Abhi Shrestha at

UPCOMING EVENTS The Scene: The Brothers Size Saturday, October 12, 2019 Performance at 3:00pm with event to follow The Scene: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter Saturday, March 14, 2020 Performance at 7:30pm with event to follow


UPCOMING EVENTS Step In #1: DESIGN Wednesday, October 30, 2019 Step In #2: WRITING Wednesday, December 4, 2019 Step In #3: MOVEMENT Wednesday, January 29, 2020 Step In #4: VOICE Wednesday, March 19, 2020 Step In #5: DIRECTING Wednesday, May 6, 2020


THE STEPPENWOLF ENSEMBLE Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble members represents a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead and August: Osage County to Pass Over and Downstate—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 programing includes a sevenplay 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.

























































STEPPENWOLF STAFF Anna D. Shapiro Artistic Director

Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry and Gary Sinise Executive Artistic Board

Artistic Leelai Demoz Associate Artistic Director Jonathan Berry Artistic Producer and Director at the School at Steppenwolf Hallie Gordon Artistic Producer and Artistic Director, Steppenwolf for Young Adults JC Clementz Casting Director Polly Hubbard Director of New Play Development Greta Honold LookOut Director Patrick Zakem LookOut Producer Kenya Hall Artistic and Literary Coordinator Glenn Davis Audrey Francis Tracy Letts Sandra Marquez Amy Morton Caroline Neff Yasen Peyankov Artistic Associates

Education Megan Shuchman Director of Education Jared Bellot Education Manager John Rooney Education and Leadership Programs Coordinator Abhi Shrestha Education Associate Sheila Chapman Education Volunteer Peter Andersen Jazmín Corona Tina El Gamal Monét Felton Tiffany Fulson Charles Andrew Gardner Greg Geffrard Lauren Katz Sonya Madrigal Airos Sung-En Medill Anastacia Narrajos Jeremy Ohringer

24 The Brothers Size

Wilfredo Ramos, Jr. Fatima Sowe Mara Stern Teaching Artists

David Schmitz Executive Director

Emma Casey Sydney Charles Taylor Craft Brian Keys Marshall Kious Georgette Kirkendall Walker Lee Patty Malaney Jay Mast Greg Mehl Bran Moorhead Davey Weston O’Dell Lindsay Stock Shannon Vogt Toby Walters Bartenders Barbara Casey Administrative Volunteer

Marketing, Communications & Audience Services

Kara Henry Director of Marketing and Communications Madeline Long Karena Fiorenza Senior Communications General Manager Director LaDonna Lane Erika Nelson Human Resources Senior Marketing Director Director Maria Nondorf Joel Moorman Finance Director Creative Director Cory Jeanes Donovan Foote Director of Operations Design Director Jovito Alvarez Lowell Thomas Finance Manager Video Content Producer Development Brian Hurst Kerstin Adams Finance Coordinator Leslie Bradberry Digital Marketing Director of Jacqueline Corte Manager Interim Office Manager Development Javier Dubon Kristy Conway Nic Andrews Marketing Manager Institutional IT Administrator Maya Fazio-Siu Partnerships Director Connor Pickett Marketing Assistant Eric Evenskaas IT Coordinator Corinne Florentino Senior Development Kate Lerner Social Media and Director Bar Manager Communications Mercedes Rohlfs Ashley Schilling Assistant Campaign Director Café Manager Leean Kim Torske Courtney Anderson Peter Van Kempen PR Associate Donor Engagement Facilities Manager Corinne Neal Director Adrian Castro Audience Services Operations Coordinator Lupe Garcia Quiles Director Events Director James Heppler Stephanie Heller Suzanne Miller Facilities Coordinator Audience Services Individual Giving Membership Manager Irukia Ahmed Ali Director Tul Ghaley William Benjamin Jessica Gretch Madan Gurung Audience Services Individual Giving Rina Gurung Manager Manager Ababe Mekonen Jimmy Freund Max Lando Shamshuddin VIP Liaison to Audience Institutional Partnerships Services Mohamed Shofi Manager Aminata Talawally Mike Brunlieb Custodial Staff A.J. Roy Audience Services Board Relations Emma Casey Membership Supervisor Manager Annie Cleveland Rukmini Girsh Omar Dyette Chelsea Smith Audience Services Cameron Harrie Campaign Manager Supervisor Dani James Gabriel Alaniz Molly Layton Maggie Malaney Donor Engagement and Group Sales Jack Newton Events Coordinator Coordinator Madison Serrett Tina El Gamal Roseann Bishop Kyla Spencer Prospect Development Membership Marketing Julia Toney Analyst Coordinator Rosemary Vigil Natasha Freeman Baristas Donor Services Assistant

Administration and Operations

Craig Barnes Itzel Blancas Kat Davis Kenya Hall Greg Glomb Hanna Kime Connor Lifson DJ Shafer Julia Waits Audience Services Associates

Audience Outreach Brandi Jones Audience Outreach Supervisor Stephanie Aguilar Alena Cook Greg Glomb Marilyn Hillary Jeffrey Jauch Seph Mozes RJ Numez Audience Outreach Associates

Audience Experience Aaron Aptaker Audience Experience Director Megan Kaminsky Audience Experience Manager Paige Ward Front of House Manager Donald Coulson Parking Manager Jake Green Taylor Hobart Caitlyn Johnson Laura LoChirco Nora Manz Claudia Price Rio Ragazzone Hoot Sanders Hilary Schwartz Jessica Smith Kyla Spencer Audience Experience Associates Angel Aguilar Mustafa Chaudry Sam Morales Gabriel Sanchez Parking Associates Lauren Louer, The Saints Volunteer Usher Coordination

Production Tom Pearl Director of Production Erin Cook Company Manager and Assistant to the Artistic Director Claire Haupt Elise Hausken Assistant Production Managers Mike Donohue Technical Director Chad Hain Associate Technical Director Lydia Strini Assistant Technical Director Tom Egan Scene Shop Supervisor Nate Feit Kyle Land Russell Scott Brophy Tolbert Scenic Carpenters Zoe Shiffrin Scenic Charge Artist Sarah Lewis Interim Scenic Charge Jenny DiLuciano Properties Director Erin Ohland Jay Tollefsen Associate Properties Directors Victoria Ross Props Artisan Charles Moser Master Properties Artisan Shannon Higgins Wardrobe, Hair and Make Up Supervisor Melissa Motz Assistant Wardrobe Supervisor Daisy Lindas Costume Director Mae Haskins Assistant Costume Designer Laurel Clayson Head Draper Lynae Vandermeulen Work Room Supervisor and Draper

Melissa Humbert First Hand J. R. Lederle Lighting Supervisor Ernesto Gomez Master Electrician Karen Thompson Light Board Operator Rick Haefele Stage Operations Supervisor Vanessa Retzlaff Assistant Stage Supervisor Martha Wegener Sound Supervisor Gregor Mortis Associate Sound Supervisor Matthew Chapman 1700 Tech Coordinator Christine D. Freeburg Laura D. Glenn Michelle Medvin Production Stage Managers Kathleen Barrett Mary Hungerford Jaclynn Joslin Amanda Landis Stage Managers

Agency of Record Grip

Production Counsel provided by Rick Pappas

Organizational Counsel provided by the attorneys at Schiff Hardin, LLP

Professional Leadership Program

Nina Attinello Anisha Banerjee Brenna Barborka Amanda Barth Sarah Beck Grace Burns Sophia Deck Daniel Etti-Williams Johan H. Gallardo Ada Gรถktepe Maranda Jenkins Kevin Karn Nikki Konomos Zoe Lesser Nadya Naumaan Elon Sloan Jessica Van Winkle Courtney Winkelman Rafael Zhang


BOARD OF TRUSTEES Executive Committee Eric Lefkofsky, Chair Keating Crown, Vice Chair Deborah H. Quazzo, Secretary Verett Mims, Treasurer Henry S. Bienen Douglas R. Brown Elizabeth H. Connelly Nora Daley Rich Feitler Paul W. Goodrich Lynn Lockwood Murphy Bruce Sagan Stephanie B. Smith Matthew Shapiro Bryan Traubert John R. Walter Helen Zell

Tracy Letts Mary Ludford Ronald J. Mallicoat, Jr. Holly Maloney Tarell Alvin McCraney David E. Mendelsohn L. Heather Mitchell Christopher M. Murphy Pam Netzky Yasen Peyankov Anne M. Phillips Robert Rivkin Shilpa Rupani Cari B. Sacks Robert Sanborn Manuel “Manny” Sanchez Anna D. Shapiro Matthew Shapiro Colette Cachey Smithburg Elliot A. Stultz

Trustees Sarah Beardsley Michael W. Bender Susan O. Berghoef Amy Bluhm Meredith BluhmWolf Marlene BreslowBlitstein Carole L. Brown Ebs Burnough Beth Boosalis Davis Glenn Davis Amy Eshleman D. Cameron Findlay Matthew Gray Robert J. Greenebaum, Jr. Caryn Harris John Hart Jon Michael Hill Dennis D. Howarter Rebecca L. Johnston

Emeritus Trustees J. Robert Barr Lawrence Block Michael Cahan John N. Fox, Jr. Lawrence M. Gill Donna La Pietra Kenneth J. Porrello Merle Reskin Randall K. Rowe 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


Grand Benefactors $100,000+ Anonymous Allstate Insurance Company* The Crown Family ‡ Paul M. Angell Foundation‡ Polk Bros. Foundation* United Airlines

Benefactors $50,000 – $99,999 Ann and Richard Carr Steppenwolf Associates*

Producers $25,000-$49,999

American Express Archer Daniels Midland Company Andrew and Amy Bluhm ‡ Walter E. Heller Foundation Fry Foundation JPMorgan Chase Liz and Eric Lefkofsky ‡ Lynn Lockwood Murphy and Barrett B. Murphy ‡ The Oppenheimer Family Foundation Anne and Don Phillips‡ Robert and Louis Sanborn Cari and Michael J. Sacks‡ Stephanie Smith and Gerald Smith Zell Family Foundation

Patrons $10,000 – $24,999

American Express Robert and Isabelle Bass Foundation, Inc. The Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation Caroline and Keating Crown Mary and Paul Finnegan Illinois Tool Works Foundation Ms. Anne Kaplan Bryan Traubert and Penny Pritzker Deborah and Stephen Quazzo Dr. Scholl Foundation Siragusa Family Foundation Nina B. Winston

Sustainers $5,000 – $9,999

Helen Brach Foundation A. Montgomery Ward Foundation Marlene Breslow-Blitstein and Berle Blitstein The Boeing Company Helen Brach Foundation Michael and Cathy Brennan Douglas R. Brown and Rachel Kraft Cheryl Lynn Bruce and Kerry Marshall ComEd Philip H. Corboy Foundation Brian Duwe John Hart and Carol Prins Karkomi Family Foundation John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation* Malkin Family Lisa and Paul McGrady ‡ Mesirow Financial The Orlebeke Foundation Louis and Nellie Sieg Fund Tom and Blaine Wells

‡ Multi Year Pledge * The Steppenwolf Associates is a community of more than 100 dynamic young professionals who work each season to raise funds for Steppenwolf for Young Adults.

IN-SCHOOL RESIDENCIES Steppenwolf Education reaches 2,500 students each year through its in-school residencywork, pairing teaching artists and classroom teachers to enrich students’ experiences of the Steppenwolf for Young Adults plays on our stages.




I am thankful to have this relationship with Steppenwolf because it is so student centered. The students’ faces light up as they are talking enthusiastically about the plays, and the workshops. They are sharing their experiences and gaining self confidence well after our workshops are complete! — Mary Rossi, Residency Teacher, Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences

TEACHING ARTIST COHORT Steppenwolf Education Teaching Artists partner with classroom teachers, exploring the themes of the Steppenwolf for Young Adults season in workshops with thousands of students across the Chicagoland area.

To28 learn more, contact Education Manager Jared Bellot at The Brothers Size

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. 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. 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

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.

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 or join the conversation at 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

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

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.

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, ageappropriateness 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.

FEB 26 - MAR 21, 2020




Adapted by Isaac Gomez Based on the novel by Erika L. Sánchez Directed by ensemble member Sandra Marquez Featuring ensemble member Karen Rodriguez Student matinees Tuesday – Friday | $7.50 per student To book group tickets to a student matinee please visit Public performance tickets only $20 (students $15) | | 312-335-1650 LEAD SUPPORTER OF STEPED