OF NOTORIETY: Steppenwolf Theatre announces 2012-13 stage season of surprises

2012-03-07T15:15:00Z 2012-03-07T17:01:07Z OF NOTORIETY: Steppenwolf Theatre announces 2012-13 stage season of surprisesBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Steppenwolf Theatre Company Artistic Director Martha Lavey announced Wednesday the 2012-13 stage subscription season, including a Steppenwolf-commissioned world premiere and the work of 15 ensemble members.

The season begins in Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theatre with David Lindsay-Abaire's "Good People," directed by ensemble member K. Todd Freeman.

Up next, ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro directs "The Motherf**ker with the Hat" by Stephen Adly Guirgis. In The Upstairs Theatre, ensemble member Austin Pendleton will direct "The Birthday Party" by Harold Pinter.

In April 2013, ensemble member Tina Landau directs the Steppenwolf-commissioned world premiere of "Head of Passes" by ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney, their first collaboration since the widely-praised "The Brother/Sister Plays" in 2010. The season concludes with "Belleville" by Amy Herzog, directed by Anne Kauffmann.

"As we began assembling the plays for our season, we found ourselves compelled by an underlying theme uniting this diverse and exciting collection of works," Steppenwolf Artistic Director Lavey said.

"In each of these five plays, there is a moment when the past reveals itself, unbidden but ineluctable in its force. We are calling this moment ‘The Reckoning.' The word shimmers with Biblical meaning: the day of reckoning; with the mathematical record: a settling of accounts; with a narrative trajectory: a summing up. Each of these meanings adds an appropriate weight to the metaphors we use to make sense of our fate. Whether we narrate the story of our life with religious or secular cast, there is a deeply human impulse to discern a system of justice to explain our fate."

Steppenwolf ensemble members currently confirmed for the 2012/13 Season include: Alana Arenas, Ian Barford, K. Todd Freeman, Francis Guinan, Moira Harris, Jon Michael Hill, Tim Hopper, Tina Landau, John Mahoney, Mariann Mayberry, Tarell Alvin McCraney, James Vincent Meredith, Austin Pendleton, Molly Regan and Anna D. Shapiro.

Additional casting is to be announced.

Season subscriptions are currently on-sale, with packages starting at $140. To purchase a 2012-13 subscription, contact Audience Services at 1650 N. Halsted St. or call (312) 335-1650 or

Here's the complete description for each of the offerings:

"Good People" by David Lindsay-Abaire runs Sept. 13 to Nov. 11 and will be directed by ensemble member K. Todd Freeman. It features ensemble members Alana Arenas, Mariann Mayberry and Molly Regan in the Downstairs Theatre. When Margie Walsh loses her job at a South Boston dollar store, she reaches out to her old friend and flame Mike, a Southie boy who made good when he became a successful doctor. What begins as an attempt to hit Mike up for a job takes on a threatening cast when Margie realizes the power that secrets from Mike's past life hold over his current one. Penned by this Pulitzer Prize-winner, "Good People" is described as an incisive and funny character study of old friends, old flames and the question of whether you can ever leave the old neighborhood behind. "Good People" was produced on Broadway in 2011 and marks David Lindsay-Abaire's debut at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. An ensemble member since 1993, K. Todd Freeman's recent Steppenwolf credits include "The Brother/Sister Plays," "The Tempest" and "Art."

"The Motherf**ker with the Hat" by Stephen Adly Guirgis runs Dec. 27 to March 3, 2013 and will be directed by ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro in the Downstairs Theatre. It tells the story of how things are on the up and-up for recovering alcoholic Jackie and girlfriend Veronica-until Jackie spots another man's hat in their apartment, and embarks on a sublimely incompetent criminal quest for vengeance. Described as "fast-paced and uproarious," it also asks probing questions about the havoc addiction wreaks. Ensemble member Shapiro, director of the acclaimed Broadway premiere, returns to the helm with a new cast. Stephen Adly Guirgis is a playwright, screenwriter, director, actor and co-artistic director of LAByrinth Theater Company in New York City.

"The Birthday Party" by Harold Pinter runs from Jan. 24 to May 19, 2013 and will be directed by ensemble member Austin Pendleton and featuring ensemble members Ian Barford, Francis Guinan, Moira Harris and John Mahoney with Sophia Sinise in the Upstairs Theatre. Petey, Meg and their long-time tenant Stanley live comfortably, if without particular flair, in a seaside boarding house in England. But their humdrum daily routine of cornflakes, newspapers and naps comes to a sudden end when two mysterious men appear, bringing with them menace, mystery and one overwhelming question: "What exactly are they searching for?" When the group gathers together to celebrate Stanley's birthday, alliances are re-drawn, scandals are revealed and all are left teetering on a precipice. This marks the first production of Pinter's classic at Steppenwolf. The ensemble members featured in "The Birthday Party" have nearly 125 Steppenwolf credits among them.

"Head of Passes" by ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney will be directed by ensemble member Tina Landau running from April 4 to June 9, 2013 and will feature ensemble members Alana Arenas, K. Todd Freeman, Jon Michael Hill, Tim Hopper and James Vincent Meredith. The setting is the distant present, at the mouth of the shifting Mississippi River. Shelah's family and friends plan a surprise birthday party for her. But the festivities are quickly overshadowed by a series of revelations that point to a dark secret in the family's past-revelations that leave Shelah trying to find faith, a footing and a truer sense of God. Ensemble members Tarell Alvin McCraney and Tina Landau, the writer and director behind Steppenwolf's lauded production of "The Brother/Sister Plays," team up again for this ensemble drama, told in McCraney's signature style-a vast and bustling landscape, where the spiritual world mingles freely with the day-to-day. "Head of Passes" is a Steppenwolf-commissioned world premiere, funded in part by The Joyce Foundation. Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney has been an ensemble member since 2010. Tina Landau's Steppenwolf credits include McCraney's "The Brother/Sister Plays," "Space," "The Time of Your Life," "The Tempest" and "Superior Donuts."

"Belleville" by Amy Herzog and directed by Anne Kauffmann runs June 27 until Aug. 25, 2013 and will feature ensemble members Alana Arenas and Kate Arrington in the Downstairs Theatre. Twenty-something American expats Zack and Abby live an enviably hip, do-gooder existence in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Belleville, Paris. But a single encounter one morning in the apartment they rent from their Senegalese landlords Alioune and Amina tips the scales of their relationship, revealing that the bubble they've built abroad is much closer to bursting than it appears. Kauffmann, director of the production's acclaimed Yale Repertory Theatre premiere, directs this new run.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.




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