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Steppenwolf's new theatre building and education center. (Credit: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture)

Steppenwolf Announces 2021-22 Season, Opening of New Building

The season will feature all ensemble-written plays and the opening of the company’s new 400-seat Round Theater.

CHICAGO: Steppenwolf Theatre Company has announced its 2021-22 season, featuring a season written entirely by ensemble members for the first time in the organization’s 46-year history. Additionally, Steppenwolf will open its new 50,000-square-foot theatre building and education center designed by Gordon Gill of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, with theatre design and acoustics by Charcoalblue. The new building will feature the 400-seat Round Theater as well as new bars and gathering spaces.

“The opening of our new building is a testimony to the confidence that the cultural heartbeat of Chicago will come roaring back with the grandness this city deserves,” said executive director E. Brooke Flanagan in a statement. “Together, we have created a home for the ensemble and a physical manifestation of our promise to the city of Chicago—Steppenwolf will continue its legacy of creation and service for generations to come.”

Steppenwolf’s new Round Theater. (Credit: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture)

The fall will see Steppenwolf continuing with its virtual stage programming, beginning with three short plays by Tracy Letts. Streaming this September will be Letts’ The Old Country, an animated short directed by Patrick Zakem; Night Safari, a monologue directed by Zakem and starring Rainn Wilson; and The Stretch, a monologue directed by Steppenwolf artistic director Anna D. Shapiro.

Next up on the virtual stage will be a new play by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Amy Morton will direct this in-progress, currently untitled filmed play set to stream in October.

Following will be The Light Remains (streaming in November), written and directed by Tina Landau. This filmed play follows six solo short stories while examining the myriad ways people grieve, including with celebration and laughter.

Steppenwolf will then return to in-person programming with Letts’s Bug (Nov. 11-Dec. 12), directed by David Cromer. This production, starring Carrie Coon and Namir Smallwood, closed due to COVID-19 in 2020, and the set, according to a statement from Shapiro, is even still on the Steppenwolf stage. The play follows a waitress and a young drifter as they begin to see bugs in their seedy Oklahoma motel room.

Interior of Steppenwolf’s new lobby. (Credit: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture)

The season will then continue with the world premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s King James (Feb. 24-April 3, 2022), which was co-commissioned and co-produced with Center Theatre Group. Directed by Shapiro and featuring ensemble members Glenn Davis and Chris Perfetti, the play follows two childhood friends and explores the role sports and athletes play in relationships and emotional lives through the lens of LeBron James and his impact on Cleveland.

Next up will be the grand public opening of Steppenwolf’s new Round Theater with Anton Chekhov’s Seagull (April 28-June 12, 2022), translated, adapted, and directed by Yasen Peyankov. Chekhov’s classic story of three generations colliding over a long summer weekend in the Russian countryside will feature an all-ensemble cast.

The season will conclude with Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy (July 16-24, 2022), directed by Kent Gash, which follows Pharus Young as he looks to be the best leader of his prep school’s prestigious choir while examining whether, in this world of rites and rituals, he should conform to the expectations of his peers to gain their respect.

Additionally, Steppenwolf for young audiences will present The Red Folder Project, an illustrated play written, directed, and illustrated by Rajiv Joseph and featuring Carrie Coon, this fall. The young audiences programming will be the first to utilize Steppenwolf’s new Round Theatre in February 2022 with 1919 by Eve. L Ewing, adapted by J. Nicole Brooks, and directed by Gabrielle Randle-Bent.

Founded in 1976, Steppenwolf Theatre Company is an ensemble-based company that produces contemporary works.

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