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The Burn


WELCOME TO THE BURN Letter from SYA Artistic Director Hallie Gordon

9  REHEARSAL PHOTOS By Joel Moorman 10 BIOS 16  ARTHUR MILLER AND CHEMICAL REACTIONS: FROM THE PLAYWRIGHT’S CHAIR By Education Manager Jared Bellot 20  WHEN THE ONLINE WORLD BECOMES (IN) REAL (LIFE): A TIMELINE By Education Projects Assistant Fatima Sowe 22  STORYCATCHERS THEATRE AND STEPPENWOLF: A NEW LIGHT A Conversation with Edmund O’Brien, Program Manager at Storycatchers Theatre


EDITOR Paul G. Miller

CONTRIBUTORS Jared Bellot Hallie Gordon Joel Moorman Brianna Parry A.J. Roy

DESIGN David Masnato

COVER Illustration by David Masnato

TO ADVERTISE Contact: Bryan Dowling 773-275-1247 bryan@media8midwest.‌com smARTmagazines/ smARTsponsorships

The Young Adult Council

is a unique program for passionate and motivated high school students who wish to learn the inner-workings of professional theater from the most celebrated artists in the city. In addition to face time with these leading professionals, Council members attend the best plays in Chicago, learn how to analyze and speak about these plays and lead events for their peers around Steppenwolf for Young Adults productions in hopes of inspiring a new generation of theatre enthusiasts and practitioners. 2 The Burn

Applications are available on March 1, 2018. Like the Steppenwolf Young Adult Council on Facebook and Instagram! Or visit for more information.

Anna D. Shapiro† Artistic Director

David Schmitz Executive Director

Hallie Gordon Artistic Director of SYA




The Burn

By Philip Dawkins Directed by Devon de Mayo‡

FEATURING Birgundi Baker, Nina Ganet, Phoebe González, Erik Hellman* (Feb. 14 - Mar. 3), Dyllan Rodrigues-Miller and Pat Whalen (Mar. 6 - Mar. 10)



MAJOR INDIVIDUAL SUPPORTERS OF STEPPENWOLF FOR YOUNG ADULTS Ann and Richard Carr Lynn Lockwood Murphy and Barrett B. Murphy Robert and Louise Sanborn

Courtney O’Neill+ Scenic Design Melissa Ng Costume Design Heather Sparling Lighting Design Sarah Ramos Sound Design Rasean Davonte Johnson Projection Design Hallie Gordon Artistic Producer Brianna Parry Production Manager JC Clementz Casting Director Brian Maschka* Stage Manager

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.

The Burn was commissioned by Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Martha Lavey, Artistic Director, David Hawkanson, 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. ‡ member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a national theatrical labor union.

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WELCOME TO THE BURN When I first sat down with Philip Dawkins to talk about writing a play for Steppenwolf for Young Adults, he conveyed an episode from a high school where he was teaching. Philip was serving as artist mentor to a very smart student, a student who turned out to be a bully and who was expelled from school because of it. Philip was shocked and dismayed about the inexcusable actions of a student who, in Philip’s experience, had been decent and thoughtful. As a consequence of this otherwise smart and capable student’s demonstrated bad behavior, Philip explained feeling somewhat betrayed by this student.


There have been many sad and troubling accounts of young people being bullied to the point of having to transfer to a different school or worse, driven to self harm and even suicide. Kids start believing what their bullies say, start internalizing the cruel messages of their tormentors and begin feeling unloved, unwanted, and worthless as a consequence. When you repeat a falsehood enough times, you start believing it; that falsehood becomes an article of faith to you, crowding out healthier, more helpful ideas. When you are a target, what can you do to protect yourself? In a lot of instances, the school community is not the source of help that it needs to become. School can be an ecosystem of despair and loneliness, a daily gauntlet of abuse and fear for a lot of kids. What happens in such an ecosystem if all its inhabitants learn only to fight them at their own game, to perpetuate the cycle of violence and cruelty. Then they too became bullies, and the entire ecosystem grows that much more unkind, that much more callous. The ecosystem used to exist only in direct contact with each other - to degrade and abuse each. Until recently we needed to be in the same room or corridor or park with each other. But with the insinuation of technology, the opportunity for misdeeds is multiplied - we are tethered by our devices and the proliferation of social media platforms around the clock. In many ways, technology has brought us closer together, true, but in other, darker ways, it has driven us apart; it affords us the chance for unprecedented collaboration and disseminating information, yes, but it also nourishes our most ruthless tendencies. These are some of the observations rendered in Dawkins’ The Burn. The Burn blurs lines between what happens in IRL and what happens online, and asks: are we at a point where there are no longer many differences? Or do we, in the false hope that the internet is a dreamscape without consequences, become someone else online? Can we reconcile these versions of ourselves? How can we retain our fullest, most generous, our kindest humanity while online? Hallie Gordon Artistic Director of Steppenwolf for Young Adults

By Clare


Directed by Jonathan

Featuring ensemble members Glenn Davis, Audrey Francis, Francis Guinan, and Caroline Neff with Emjoy Gavino, David Lind and Gabriel Ruiz January 25 – March 11, 2018 Tickets start at just $20 | steppenwolf.‌org | 312-335-1650 | 2017/18 Grand Benefactors

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2017/18 Benefactors


CAST (in alphabetical order)


Birgundi Baker Tara Nina Ganet Andi Phoebe González Mercedes Erik Hellman* Erik (Feb 14 - Mar 3) Dyllan Rodrigues-Miller Shauna Pat Whalen Erik (Mar 6 - Mar 10)

Will Quam Assistant Director

UNDERSTUDIES (in alphabetical order)

Michael Commendatore Associate Projection Designer & Programmer

Isabella Gerasole Mercedes/Shauna Emmaline Skillicorn Andi Netta Walker Tara Pat Whalen Erik

Ulises Acosta Assistant to the Playwright Sarah Slight Dramaturg

Judy Suh Assistant Projection Designer


Alex Bailey Dillon Stage Management Apprentice

In and Around a Chicago Public High School, both virtually and IRL

Regina Victor Script Supervisor

This play will be presented without an intermission. There will be a post-show discussion immediately following the performance.

† member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble. *m  ember of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers.

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Meet the Steppenwolf Education teaching artists who work on exploring the themes of The Burn with thousands of students across the Chicagoland area as a part of our in-school Residency Program!

Peter Andersen

Kari Betton

Jazmín Corona

Christina El Gamal

Tiffany Fulson

Cara Greene Epstein

Charles Andrew Gardner

Greg Geffrard

Larry Grimm

Wilfredo Ramos Jr.

Fatima Sowe

Mara Stern

Shannon Perry & Brophy Tolbert Additional Carpentry Aaron Stephenson Sound Board Operator Rebekah Camm, Gregory Geffrard, Lavina Jadhwani, Derek Matson, Neel McNeill, and Derek McPhatter Audience Engagement Associates 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. As a courtesy to the actors and your fellow patrons, please turn off your cell phones before the performance and after intermission. 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.

Interested in learning more about our In-School Residency Program? Email Education Manager Jared Bellot at

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THE BURN IN REHEARSAL Photography by Joel Moorman

City Connections is our opportunity to bring our work outside of Steppenwolf and into new neighborhoods by making connections with organizations that use the arts to empower youth. Steppenwolf Education is proud to partner with the following organizations: EMBARC CHICAGO As part of Embarc Chicago’s goal to provide experience-based opportunities to show youth they belong everywhere, Embarc students attend Step In workshops throughout the year as well as a production of Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ (SYA’s) production of The Burn.

Cast members Birgundi Baker, Dyllan Rodrigues-Miller and Nina Ganet

Cast member Erik Hellman

SNOW CITY ARTS In July 2018, Steppenwolf Education will host Snow City Arts youth, families and teaching artists at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre as a part of their 20th Anniversary Artistic Retrospective, allowing youth to have their work performed outside of a hospital setting for the first time.

CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY Chicago Public Library branches in Englewood and Roseland will host a series of Steppenwolf led playwriting workshops, free to all teens, as lead up to the Chi-Teen Lit Fest in April. Cast member Phoebe González

Cast member Birgundi Baker, Director Devon de Mayo and cast member Dyllan Rodrigues-Miller

BUILD, INC. Throughout the year, Steppenwolf Education will host a series of interactive, artist-led workshops inspired by our Step In series at BUILD, Inc., located in the West Austin neighborhood.

STORYCATCHERS THEATRE Working alongside Storycatchers’ staff, Steppenwolf Education will tour SYA’s world premiere The Burn to over 350 incarcerated youth in three juvenile justice facilities throughout Illinois and invite Storycatchers’ youth to perform original pieces on the Steppenwolf stage. The Cast of The Burn

If you are a community organization that works with youth, JOIN US. Visit for more information. 10 The Burn

Visit for videos, production images and more rehearsal images. steppenwolf 11

THE BURN BIOS Birgundi Baker (Tara) received her BFA from Howard University’s musical theatre program. Chicago television credits include Empire, Chicago PD and The Chi. Birgundi is honored to be a part of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. “She would like to thank her family and Gray Talent for their unconditional love and support.” Nina Ganet (Andi) makes her Steppenwolf Theatre Company debut. Ganet most recently appeared in Hand to God (Victory Gardens Theater, Jeff nominated for Best Production Play-Large) and Mosque Alert (Silk Road Theatre Project). Film credits include Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party directed by Stephen Cone and Cool Apocalypse directed by Michael Smith. Ganet is a School at Steppenwolf graduate and is represented by Stewart Talent.

Erik Hellman (Erik, Feb. 14 - Mar. 3) returns to Steppenwolf Theatre Company where he was last seen in the Steppenwolf for Young Adults productions of The Crucible, Elephant Man, and Huck Finn as well as Honest for Steppenwolf First Look. Recent Chicago credits include Harvey and One Man Two Guvnors (Court Theatre); Miss Bennet (Jeff Nomination- Northlight Theatre); Luna Gale (Goodman Theatre); and Marjorie Prime (Writers Theatre). Outside of Chicago, Erik has appeared at Milwaukee Repertory, Geva Theatre Center, Syracuse Stage, Indianapolis Repertory, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Houston’s Stages Repertory, and Off-Broadway at The Mirror Repertory. Film and television work includes The Dark Knight, The Chicago Code, Boss, Betrayal, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and the upcoming feature Walden. Erik also co-hosts the Erik and Jessie and Everyone You Know Variety Show which performs regularly at the Steppenwolf 1700 space.

Phoebe González (Mercedes) is very excited to be back Dyllan Rodrigues-Miller at Steppenwolf Theatre (Shauna) is very excited to Company, where she last be making her Steppenwolf performed in Teatro Vista’s Theatre Company debut. La Havana Madrid in the 1700 Theatre. Her Chicago credits include Previous credits include The Bridges of P is for PePe (NoMads Art Collective); and Madison County (Marriott Theatre); Quixote In Sarah’s Shadow (Pop Magic Productions). (Writers Theatre, understudy); Wit and She received her BFA from DePaul You on the Moors Now (The Hypocrites, University and is a proud Houstonian. understudy). She is a graduate of “She’d like to thank her family Northwestern University, where she studied and loving partner of 4 years for their acting, music theatre, and playwriting. unending support.” While a student, her play The Next Left was written in partnership with Jenny Avery and Next Theatre, and received its first public reading as an extension of the Agnes Nixon Festival.

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Pat Whalen (Erik, Mar. 6 Mar. 10) Pat is beyond thrilled to be working at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Past credits include Give It All Back (Sideshow Theatre Company); Rolling, Exit Strategy (Jackalope Theatre Company); and most recently Lottery Day (Goodman). Pat is a proud Jackalope Theatre Company member and hosts Chicago’s only late-night talk-show, Good Evening ( “Thanks to Stewart Talent, Phillip and Devon.” Philip Dawkins (Playwright) is a Chicago playwright and educator. His plays include Failure: A Love Story (Victory Gardens Theater); Le Switch (About Face Theatre, The Jungle); The Homosexuals (About Face Theatre); and Dr.Seuss’s The Sneetches, the Musical with composer David Mallamud (Children’s Theater Company, Minneapolis), as well as many plays for young audiences and performers. He received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work for his plays Charm (Northlight Theatre, MCC Theatre Company); and Miss Marx: Or The Involuntary Side Effect of Living (Strawdog Theatre Company); as well as the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Solo Performance for his play, The Happiest Place on Earth (Side Show Theatre Company/Greenhouse Theater Center). Winter 2018, look for his play, The Gentleman Caller with Raven Theatre, Chicago and later with Abingdon Theatre, NYC. Philip currently teaches playwriting at his alma mater, Loyola University Chicago. Devon de Mayo (Director) is thrilled to be working with Steppenwolf for Young Adults. Recent Directing credits include: Harvey (Court Theatre); Sycamore (Raven Theatre); You on the Moors Now (The Hypocrites);

Animals Out of Paper (Shattered Globe Theatre); You Can’t Take it With You, Lost in Yonkers (Northlight Theatre); Jet Black Chevrolet (the side project theatre company); Compulsion, Everything is Illuminated (Next Theatre); Roadkill Confidential, The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler and Clouds (Dog & Pony Theatre Company). Directing and devising credits include Don’t Look Back/Must Look Back (Pivot Arts); Guerra: A Clown Play (La Piara, Mexico); The Whole World is Watching, As Told by the Vivian Girls and The Twins Would Like to Say (Dog & Pony Theatre Company). Also, Devon has taught in a variety of settings for over 13 years and currently teaches at the University of Chicago and Loyola University. She received her MFA from Middlesex University in London and did further studies at the Russian Academy of Dramatic Arts in Moscow and the Indonesian Institute for the Arts in Bali, Indonesia. Courtney O’Neill (Scenic Design) is thrilled to return to Steppenwolf Theatre Company, having previously designed The Burials, The Compass, Life and Limb and Of Mice and Men. Current and upcoming designs include: Plantation! (Lookingglass Theatre Company); Black Pearl Sings (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); and When Father Comes Home from the Wars (Goodman Theatre). Courtney is the recipient of the 2017 Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award. She won a Jeff Award for Mud (The Hypocrites) and has received multiple nominations. She holds an MFA from Northwestern, a BFA from DePaul University, and currently teaches at both institutions. Bios 13

…cont’d Bios

Melissa Ng (Costume Design) is thrilled to make her Steppenwolf Theatre Company debut with this play. Her selected credits include The Bitter Game (Under the Radar Festival); Picnic (American Theater Company); Bright Half Life (About Face Theatre); and Fun Home (Victory Gardens Theater). Upcoming productions include Doing It (Victory Gardens Theater); and Diagram of a Paper Airplane (American Theater Company). She is part of the Special Forces Unit at Playwrights Horizons. She holds a BA from University of Chicago and an MFA from UC-San Diego.

Theatre, Renaissance Theatreworks, AndHow Theater Company, Gateway Playhouse and Piedmont Opera. She is an alumnus of the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Rasean Davonte Johnson (Projection Design) is delighted to work with Steppenwolf for Young Adults. Previous Steppenwolf Theatre Company credits include You Got Older and BLKS. A Chicago-based video artist and theatrical designer, he has had the opportunity to work with institutions such as Yale Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Berkshire Theatre Group, Alliance Theatre, Heather Sparling (Lighting Design) is Drury Lane Theatre, Court Theatre, The grateful to be working with Steppenwolf Hypocrites, Chicago Dramatists, TimeLine Theatre Company for the first time. Recent Theatre Company, The Kitchen Theatre, design credits include The Fly Honey Show Teatro Vista, Collaboraction Theatre (The Inconvenience); Twelfth Night, The Company, American Theater Company, Heart of Robin Hood (Door Shakespeare); Manual Cinema and internationally with Yardbird (Hackney Empire, London); La the Ningbo Song and Dance Company. Havana Madrid (Teatro Vista); Longer! Additionally his installation work has Louder! Wagner! (Lyric Opera of Chicago); been seen at the Yale Art Gallery, and The Way She Spoke (Greenhouse The Bridgeport Film Festival and Theater). Additionally, Heather is a fulltime Assistant Lighting Designer at the Lyric the Columbus International Film Opera of Chicago. Heather is a proud alum Festival. MFA Yale School of Drama. of Boston University. She’d like to thank John, for everything. For more information on her Brian Maschka (Stage Manager) has work, visit previously worked on The Rembrandt, Sarah Ramos (Sound Design) has been the Resident Audio and Video Supervisor at Court Theatre in Chicago for seven years. Locally, she has worked with Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Drury Lane Theatre, American Blues Theater, The Gift Theatre Company, About Face Theatre, Congo Square Theatre Company, Bailiwick Chicago, Teatro Luna, Prop Thtr and LiveWire Chicago. Regionally, she has worked with Indiana Repertory Theatre, First Stage, Milwaukee Chamber 14 Bios

Monster, Visiting Edna, Mary Page Marlowe and Domesticated at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Chicago credits include Edward Tulane and Wonderland (Chicago Children’s Theatre). New York credits include Frost/ Nixon (Jacobs); Anna Nicole (Brooklyn Academy of Music); 100 Saints You Should Know (Playwrights Horizon); Here Lies Jenny (Zipper); Indoor/Outdoor, Thom Pain, Ears on a Beatle (The DR2 Theatre); Sakharam Binder (Play Company); The Glass Cage, Susan and God and John Ferguson (Mint

Theater Company). Regional credits include Kiss Me Kate, Swingtime Canteen (Weston Playhouse); Boeing-Boeing, Doubt, Rabbit Hole, Santaland Diaries, Opus, Shirley Valentine, Dancing at Lughnasa (Florida Repertory Theatre); Peter Pan, Wit and Art (Syracuse Stage).

Of Mice and Men (with James Franco) and Fish in the Dark (with Larry David). OffBroadway 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.

Hallie Gordon (Artistic Director of Steppenwolf for Young Adults) is currently an artistic producer, where she most recently directed The Rembrandt and Hir by Taylor Mac. Other Steppenwolf directing credits include the world premiere of Monster by Walter Dean Myers, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, the world premiere of The Book Thief, To Kill a Mockingbird and the world premiere of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Hallie has also directed for Northlight Theatre and is an ensemble member for Rivendell Theatre where she directed the critically acclaimed Dry Land and Eat Your Heart Out.

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 Adair Performance. Currently, he serves as Vice President of the Board for The House Theatre of Chicago as well as on the boards of the League of Chicago Theatres and Arts Alliance Illinois. David is a former board member for the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce and has worked as a strategic planning, business practices, finance and hiring consultant for numerous Chicago organizations, including The House Theatre of Chicago, The Hypocrites and Stage Left Theatre, among others. He holds a BA in theatre from the University of Northern Colorado, an MFA from the Theatre Conservatory at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University and a Certificate in Non Profit Management from Roosevelt University.

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 The Minutes, 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

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Arthur Miller and Chemical Reactions: From the Playwright’s Chair Conducted by Education Manager Jared Bellot

Education Manager Jared Bellot sat down (in real life!) with Philip Dawkins, playwright of Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ (SYA) world premiere production of The Burn to discuss his inspiration for this play, how this story fits into larger conversations happening in our communities, and how our use of social media shapes both our identities and our perception of the world around us.

Jared Bellot: Philip, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me about Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ upcoming world premiere production of your brand new play, The Burn. Twitter style, in 280 characters or less – what is The Burn about? Philip Dawkins: Oh, that’s the worst for me, I’ve never tweeted a day in my life! How about: The Burn is about all the many identities that young people today are forced to cultivate all at once, and how older generations may or may not be helping them in the cultivation of those identities.

The Crucible is a ghost haunting the world of The Burn. That’s kind of what I thought about while I was writing it. Jared: So why tell this story today in 2018? Philip: The idea that you can put out any sort of hateful speech that you want while thinking that you can hide behind anonymity or you can hide behind free speech is more relevant than ever. Just because you’re free to do something doesn’t mean there’s not going to be consequences. Now we have a bully running the country. Whatever you think about him, I think we can all agree that he uses bullying tactics. It’s an interesting moment to try to teach young people to model behavior that bullying is never okay, even if you happen to be right about something. “Rightness” doesn’t give you carte blanche to be disrespectful and horrible to people and disregard their feelings. We are living in a polarized time where there’s no room for a gray area. Everything is yes or no or black or white, and that is destructive. It doesn’t leave room for conversation.

We are living in a polarized time where there’s no room for a gray area. Everything is yes or no or black or white, and that is destructive. It doesn’t leave room for conversation.

Jared: By my count, that adheres to Twitter’s guidelines – congratulations on your first (kind of) tweet! So tell me, what was the inspiration for this particular story?

Jared: How is The Burn in conversation with our season theme, “When does a lie become the truth?”

Philip: The inspiration for The Burn came about eight years ago when I was working as a teaching artist at a Chicago high school. One day, all of a sudden, one of the only students who was actually doing her creative writing work in the class stopped showing up. I asked the classroom teacher what happened to the student and he said, “Oh, she was expelled.” I was like, what?! And he walked me through what happened to that girl, a story that very closely resembles Mercedes’s character arc in The Burn.

Philip: When I hear it I wonder: What is the truth and what is a lie? Something that is a lie for one person can be true in somebody else’s mind, and something that is true for me may not be true for you. And we can say exactly the same things. Does something become a lie just because the context around it changes? I don’t know, but I think ultimately, the idea that there is just one truth is naïve and not conducive to acting with empathy.

That memory has always stuck with me. Both because there is something very creative in the act of making a burn page and because this was a person who had been, in real time, actually bullied who then turned around and did something on an online platform. And because that was the thing that could be seen, she went down for it. It seemed unjust. These other girls had been being horrible somewhere people couldn’t see and then she does it where people can see it and she takes the fall.

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Jared: That idea was also explored this fall in our production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. How is The Burn in conversation with Arthur Miller’s play? Philip: The Crucible is such a rich source material. The Burn doesn’t fit nicely on top of The Crucible as a direct overlay. It’s not, “this character is a direct representation of this character.” It’s not a neat one-to-one parallel. It’s more like The Crucible is a ghost haunting the world of The Burn. That’s kind of what I thought about while I was writing it.

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Set Design by Courtney O’Neill

Jared: Tara has a line midway through the play which reminds me of what you’re talking about – “If you put something on the internet, people will rip it and burn it and reshape it into something new. You shouldn’t have put it out there if you didn’t want it sampled and handed back to you. It’s creation. It’s remix.” Philip: I read an article recently attacking the creators of Stranger Things for referencing so many 80s movies, but one of the points of that show is a homage to all of these 80s movies. Some people are like, well that’s stealing, and other people are like, no that’s homage. And I think: Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t it be all of it? There’s nothing new under the sun. There is no such thing as creation. There are only chemical reactions and the energy that is given off by the chemical reaction. To think that we’re all creating something new is vanity. This play is a remix of The Crucible. This play is what playwright Paula Vogel calls answering back to the playwrights who came before. This is my answer to Arthur Miller, whom I respect in the extreme. This is my love letter back to his body of work which was a love letter back to the Greeks. I don’t feel it to be stealing or appropriation; it’s just a continuing of the conversation across the ages. Jared: The characters in your play all use social media for different purposes. Can you talk a bit more about the role of social media in this story? Philip: Social media is a tool, and any tool can be used appropriately or inappropriately, creatively or thoughtlessly. I tried to make all of the characters in this play smart in their own ways. Even though Andi is made fun of for being stupid, she’s really not. She’s using tactics to survive in ways that she thinks ingratiates her to others, and she’s doing it in a very smart way. I think that each of them is using social media as a tool in a way that they think furthers their survival in high school, a place where survival is always on your mind. Jared: How do you think that this survival tactic, the juggling act of maintaining and adhering to these multiple identities, affects Andi, affects Shauna, affects Tara?

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Philip: A major question the play explores is how each of these characters juggle all of their many identities at one time. They’ve been given too much to hold, and they’ve been expected to cultivate and carry too much on their own, and they’ve also been expected by those above them just to know how to do it and know how to do it perfectly. And then when they don’t do it perfectly, they get in trouble. But they’re not really being instructed or helped or guided on how to juggle that successfully. Jared: As we wrap up: If you had to choose a social media platform to represent you – which would you choose and why? Philip: I would choose the street protest, the original form of social media, because it’s one I know how to do and it’s one I’m comfortable with. In protest, you have to put your body into a situation. If I stand in front of a car and raise my bike above my head, then it’s not like the worst that can happen to me is I might get offended. The worst that can happen to me is that someone might run me over. I prefer to put my whole self behind the cause or my whole self behind what I’m writing. That would be my social media platform. Standing in the town square on a soapbox or marching with others in allied causes and using my voice alongside others using theirs, rather than shouting something entirely into the void. Jared: Thousands of students from across the Chicagoland area will be seeing the show. What do you hope that they will take away from it? Philip: This is always the first question I start with before writing a play. I call it the “car-versation ” because it is the conversation that I want people to have on the car (or bus) ride home after the play. This play has many, car-versations, but I think one of the main questions this play is asking is, in what ways are we using social media to become even more ourselves and more a part of our real communities, and in what ways are we using it to divide and to push away and to isolate? And how am I using it in my own life and in what ways am I using it to draw me closer to others, and in what ways am I using it as a defensive mechanism to keep anyone from becoming closer to me?

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When the Online World Becomes (In) Real (Life): A Timeline By Education Projects Assistant Fatima Sowe Through social media, we can now interact with the world effortlessly. However, anonymous online platforms also give us the cover to engage in cruel, thoughtless, and aggressive acts, by obscuring the victims and consequences. When we can’t see someone’s reaction, it’s easy to dip our toe in the bullying pool. As a result, a few comments or likes can quickly spiral into a mob reaction with real world impacts. The examples below illustrate the IRL effects of online bullying.

1991 ROMANTIC MANIPULATION The first recorded occurrence of romantic catfishing (the act of setting up a false personal profile on a social networking site for deceptive purposes). Journalist Lindsay Van Gelder publishes an expose about a man named Alex posing in chatroom as a woman with paraplegia named “Joan” for over two years in order to manipulate others. Alex would go on to serially deceive countless individuals in intimate online relationships.

1997 IDEOLOGICAL HIT LIST Militant anti-abortionist Otis Horsley publishes a website providing the home addresses of abortion providers in the United States. The act of publishing an individual’s private information for the access of an online mob of harassers is known as doxing. Horsley took doxing a step beyond harassment, encouraging assassination in “wanted style” posters. Eight abortion providers were killed and 17 murders were attempted as a result of the website.

1999 LEGAL REPERCUSSIONS California is the first state to pass significant cyber-harassment legislation regulating online behavior. Four weeks after the legislation was passed, Los Angeles prosecutors brought the first case against a 50-year-old man who retaliated against rejection from a 28-year-old woman by harassing the victim online, inviting IRL threats. He was tried and found guilty.

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2003 RIP TROLLING 7th grader Mitchell Henderson commits suicide and his Myspace Memorial is infiltrated by trolls from the message board site 4chan. These “trolls” differ from mainstream internet mischief makers due to their strong affiliation with a culture of pranksters who harm for the sake of personal enjoyment at the expense of another. This phenomenon known as RIP trolling, often escalates from the online harassment to IRL trolling. In the case of the Henderson’s, the harassment moved offline into trolls pretending to be Mitchell, prank calling the Henderson home.

2013 FINANCIAL CRASH Hackers tweet from the Associated Press’ twitter claiming that explosions at the White House had injured President Obama. The isolated tweet caused major instability in global financial markets. Once the mistake was discovered, the loss was managed, but revealed the real life impact social media could have on economics.

2016 SOCIAL MEDIA SHUTDOWN Comedian Leslie Jones’ website is hacked and filled with crude images and memes tied to her appearing in a remake of Ghostbusters. As indicated by the crude content, the attack was motivated by Jones’ gender and race. The harassment caused the CEO of Twitter to ban the inciting internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos from the social media platform.

2017 ADMISSION RESCINDED After discovering offensive posts in a private Facebook group, 10 prospective Ivy League students have their admissions offers revoked. This is part of a phenomenon on campuses where meme-sharing culture is flourishing as a release amidst the high-pressure environments. Though many such forums are spaces to critique the university administration, the groups that feature more nefarious content face dire consequences. The reverberation of consequences from the cyber world to our own can be resounding, and can quickly escalate into IRL conflict or crime. The allure of anonymity online can bring out the worst of folks, and what might seem like a harmless click can very quickly turn into something much larger. We’ve seen examples of seemingly innocent online activity impacting relationships, employment, college admissions, and global economic markets. Clearly the power that we have at our fingertips is real, so perhaps the ultimate question is – what will you do with it?

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A Conversation with Edmund O’Brien, Program Manager at Storycatchers Theatre

Storycatchers Theatre guides young people to transform their traumatic experiences into powerful musical theatre, inspiring them to develop the courage and vision to become leaders and mentors. By creating support for youth within the criminal justice system, Storycatchers prepares them to change their lives and emerge successfully from court involvement. Steppenwolf Education is honored to be able to partner with our friends at Storycatchers and to work with them to tour our production of The Burn to hundreds of youth at three juvenile justice facilities throughout Illinois. We asked Edmund O’Brien, Program Manager for Storycatchers’ Firewriters program at the Illinois Youth Center (IYC)-Chicago, to talk about working with young people living in a juvenile justice facility. He responded, “Almost none of the boys in Firewriters have ever performed in front of an audience before, let alone written songs and stories about their own lives, and they seldom believe they can accomplish such a thing. Yet, four times a year I get to celebrate their achievements at a cast party following the performances of the work they create. And every time, they are filled with pride. They see themselves and each other in a new light.” O’Brien continued, “Thanks to the generosity of theaters all over Chicago, I’m also able to bring select groups to see professional productions. Sometimes we see plays that I have read or seen before, but when surrounded by teens whose trauma-filled lives have led them to their current situation, I experience these works in a new light. During a discussion of the way that Arthur Miller used the Salem Witch Trials as an allegory for McCarthyism at the Steppenwolf for Young Adult’s production of The Crucible this fall, the guys told me they could write an allegory about the police force to explain how a gang really works. Unfortunately, only small groups of five are allowed to leave to see these plays. That’s why I’m so excited to be a part of the partnership between Storycatchers, Steppenwolf, and the Juvenile Justice Facilities that will allow The Burn to be toured to hundreds of youth inside their current walls. These audiences will be filled with boys and girls who have most likely never seen a professional theatre production before. Hopefully they’ll be primed to consider the major themes of the play after the teaching artists of Storycatchers and Steppenwolf engage them in workshops to discuss, debate, and create art around the themes of bullying, second chances, “ruined” futures, and revenge. And I’ll be entering the audience just as primed and ready to see The Burn in a new light for myself.”

22 Features

Youth and staff reached

Hours of instructional time provided by Steppenwolf and Storycatchers teaching artists

Tour performances with the full cast

We will travel to Illinois Youth Center Chicago Illinois Youth Center Warrenwille Cook County Juvenile Detention Center The articles in this program were created for The Burn study guide. Steppenwolf Education creates an original study guide for each of its Steppenwolf for Young Adults productions. Study guides are available for all teachers attending the production and accessible for all for free on our website at

Features 23

THE STEPPENWOLF ENSEMBLE Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble of 49 members represent a remarkable crosssection of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County—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 seven-play season; a twoplay Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performance 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.



















































STEPPENWOLF STAFF Anna D. Shapiro Artistic Director


Jonathan Berry Aaron Carter Hallie Gordon Artistic Producers JC Clementz Casting Director Polly Hubbard Literary Manager Kristina Valada Viars Princess Grace Fellow Francis Guinan Tracy Letts Sandra Marquez Amy Morton Yasen Peyankov Associate Artists


Hallie Gordon Artistic Director Megan Shuchman Education Director Jared Bellot Education Manager Fatima Sowe Education Projects Assistant John Rooney PLP Assistant Peter Andersen Kari Betton Jazmin Corona Cara Greene Epstein Tiffany Fulson Christina El Gamal Charles Andrew Gardner Greg Geffrard Larry Grimm Mara Stern Wilfredo Ramos, Jr. Fatima Sowe Teaching Artists


Karena Fiorenza General Manager 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

26 The Burn

Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry and Gary Sinise Executive Artistic Board

BOARD OF TRUSTEES David Schmitz Executive Director

Joel Moorman Digital Content Producer Kevin Castillo Digital Marketing Manager Neel McNeill Marketing and Memberships Manager Patrick Zakem Development LookOut Producer/ Leslie B. Mastroianni Audience Engagement Director of Coordinator Development David Masnato Graphic Designer Kristy Conway Senior Development Leean Kim Torske PR Assistant Director Juli Del Prete Eric Evenskaas Social Media Senior Development Coordinator Director Casey VanWormer Courtney Anderson Audience Services Director of Special Director Events Billie Rye Bryant Audience Services Suzanne Miller Annual Giving Director Manager Stephanie Heller Jessica Gretch Audience Services Individual Giving Subscription Manager Manager Jimmy Freund Max Lando Audience Services Institutional Giving Training Manager Manager Mike Brunlieb Geehoon Lim Karyn Oates Audience Services Donor Engagement Supervisors Manager Molly Layton Sarah Giovannetti Group Sales Special Events Coordinator Coordinator Roseann Bishop Membership A.J. Roy Coordinator Development Benjamin Adams Coordinator Craig Barnes Chelsea Smith Iztel Blancas Campaign Coordinator Rebecca Butler Rebekah Camm Samantha Price Development Associate Sarah Carter AllisonDiamond Rachel DuBose Marketing, Communications & Sam Garrott Hall Audience Services Kenya Charles Strater John Zinn Audience Services Director of Marketing Associates and Communications Donovan Foote Audience Outreach Design Director Joshua Cashman Madeline Long Audience Outreach Communications Manager Director Spencer Blair Erika Nelson Audience Outreach Marketing Director Supervisor Greta Honold Benjamin Adams LookOut Producer/ Charles Frydenberg Audience Engagement Rukmini Girish Producer Marilyn Hillary Madeline Kelly Gabriel Alaniz Events Management Associate Samuel Barnes IT Business Systems Analyst Nic Andrews IT Associate

Brian Lee Jillian Mueller Corrin Rosenstein Jen Worster Audience Outreach Associates

Ashley Schilling Café Manager Morgan Burkey Ben Burmeister Lace Burwell Emma Casey Tory Davidson Operations Jake Drummond Cory Jeanes Quinn Hegarty Director of Operations Dani Nicole James Peter Van Kempen Juwan Lockett Facilities Manager Patty Malaney Pat Mangan Adrian Castro Operations Coordinator Alyson Morrill Meaghan Morris Harold Jaffe Kyla Norton Facilities Staff Adam Simers Irukia Ahmed Ali Raquel Villalobos Victor David Taleshia Walker Tul Ghaley Front Bar Staff Madan Gurung Angel Aguilar Rina Gurung Mustafa Chaudry Ababe Mekonen Sam Morales Shamshuddin Gabriel Sanchez Mohamed Shofi Parking Associates Aminata Talawally Jack Meyer and Custodial Staff Lauren Louer, Audience The Saints Volunteer Usher Experience Coordination Evan Hatfield Director of Audience Production Experience Tom Pearl Danielle Shindler Director of Production Food & Beverage Director, Front Bar Brianna Parry General Manager Associate Production Denise Yvette Serna Manager Front of House Erin Cook Manager Company Manager and Donald Coulson Assistant to the Parking Manager Artistic Director Aaron Aptaker Mike Donohue Audience Experience Technical Director Coordinator Chad Hain Nick Burt Associate Technical Ana Cackley David Clauson Director Lynn Cosby Erin Freeman Maureen Davies Scene Shop Supervisor Sami Ismat Kyle Land Curtis Jackson Ryan Luwe Megan Kaminsky Marshall Kious Russell Scott Georgette Kirkendall Lydia Strini Leah Meacham Scenic Carpenters Anna Sung-En Medill Zoe Shiffrin Greg Mehl Scenic Charge Artist Renato Sanchez Allison Shackelford Jenny DiLuciano Jessica Smith Properties Master Kelly Voke Emily Feder Audience Experience Jay Tollefsen Associates Assistant Properties Masters Charles Moser Master Properties Artisan Aimee Plant Properties Artisan

Shannon Higgins Wardrobe, Hair and Make Up Supervisor 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

Professional Leadership Program

Elyse Balogh Katelynn Barker Madi Bivins Alex Dillon Evan Duckworth Shelby Edwards Estrellita Edwell Rachel Hogen Jane Kittendorf Persephone Lawrence Am’Ber Montgomery Rio Ragazzone Jacqueline Saldana Alexi Siegel Kiefer Szumlas Regina Victor Cody Von Ruden Ellen Wiese

Agency of Record Grip

Counsel provided by

Rick Pappas and the attorneys at Schiff Hardin.

Executive Committee Eric Lefkofsky, Chair Keating Crown, Vice Chair Deborah H. Quazzo, Secretary L. Heather Mitchell, Treasurer Henry S. Bienen Douglas R. Brown Elizabeth H. Connelly Nora Daley Rich Feitler Paul W. Goodrich Lynn Lockwood Murphy Bruce Sagan Matthew Shapiro Stephanie B. Smith John R. Walter Helen Zell Trustees Sarah Beardsley Michael W. Bender Amy Bluhm Meredith Bluhm-Wolf Marlene BreslowBlitstein Carole L. Brown Ebs Burnough Beth Boosalis Davis Amy Eshleman Juliette Feld D. Cameron Findlay Matthew Gray Robert J. Greenebaum, Jr. Caryn Harris John Hart Jon Michael Hill Dennis D. Howarter George A. Joseph 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 Pam Netzky Yasen Peyankov Anne M. Phillips Cari B. Sacks Robert Sanborn Manuel “Manny” Sanchez Anna D. Shapiro Colette Cachey Smithburg Elliot A. Stultz Bryan Traubert 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

steppenwolf 27


Grand Benefactors $100,000+

Patrons $10,000 – $24,999

Allstate Insurance Company

Robert and Isabelle Bass Foundation, Inc.

The Crown Family‡

Helen Brach Foundation

Polk Bros. Foundation‡

Douglas R. Brown

United Airlines

Citadel LLC

Benefactors $50,000 – $99,999

Amy Eshleman and Lori Lightfoot

Nora Daley and Sean Conroy

Ann and Richard Carr Lynn Lockwood Murphy and Barrett B. Murphy‡ Paul M. Angell Foundation Steppenwolf Associates*

Producers $25,000 – $49,999 Alphawood Foundation

ComEd Mary and Paul Finnegan Joan Hall Lefkofsky Family Foundation‡ Tracy Letts Dr. Scholl Foundation Siragusa Family Foundation Nina B. Winston

Archer Daniels Midland Company BMO Harris Bank The Field Foundation of Illinois Walter E. Heller Foundation J.P. Morgan Lloyd A. Fry Foundation Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation Robert and Louise Sanborn Zell Family Foundation

Sustainers $5,000 – $9,999 Sarah Beardsley and Dr. Christopher Randolph Michael and Cathy Brennan Citi Private Bank Carol and Douglas Cohen Caroline and Keating Crown HUB International Illinois Tool Works Foundation John Hart and Carol Prins David and Susan Kalt Brad and Kim Keywell Verett Mims The Orlebeke Foundation Anne and Don Phillips Deborah and Stephen Quazzo Becky and Ilan Shalit Louis & Nellie Sieg Fund Stephanie B. Smith and Gerald Smith

‡ 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.


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.

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

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

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, 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.






THE SCENE is a special opportunity for high school students to score an affordable ticket to a Steppenwolf production, meet Chicago’s most celebrated artists and connect with other teens who are passionate about theater. Each ticket includes dinner and post-show discussion with the actors.

STEP IN is a new series that offers teens from all over the city the chance to participate in hands-on theatre workshops alongside some of the most exciting theatre artists working in the city right now while learning more about the Steppenwolf Young Adult Council, an afterschool program for teens interested in careers in the arts.



Purchase tickets at the door 30 minutes before the show, or in advance by calling Steppenwolf Audience Services at 312-335-1650. Use code 35026

To reserve your spot, please RSVP to Education Manager Jared Bellot at





SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24 AT 7:30PM (post-show)

All events last from 4:30-6:00pm

Questions? Please contact Steppenwolf’s Education Manager Jared Bellot at 312-654-5643 or

The Burn Program  
The Burn Program