In a notably carefully worded press release from Steppenwolf Theatre, it was announced Friday that ensemble member Tim Hopper will be taking over the role of Actor 2 from ensemble member K. Todd Freeman in the theater’s world premiere production of David Rabe’s “Visiting Edna,” directed by Anna D. Shapiro.

Actor K. Todd Freeman. (Photo: Sun-Times files)

Actor K. Todd Freeman. (Photo: Sun-Times files)

In a prepared statement, Shapiro said: “K. Todd Freeman took on this challenging role and throughout the rehearsal process continued to delve deeper into the complexities of the part; however, ultimately decided for his own personal reasons to no longer continue in the role. He is a dear friend and longtime ensemble member and we respect his decision. Tim Hopper is a great admirer of David Rabe and this play and we are happy to have him join the cast.”

The “Visiting Edna” cast also features Tony Award winner Debra Monk as Edna, in her Chicago stage debut with ensemble member, along with Ian Barford in the role of Edna’s son, Andrew. Hopper will join Sally Murphy and Michael Rabe in supporting roles in this drama about a woman who “has suffered a number of losses as she has aged, and now faces the stealthy advance of cancer embodied by an intimate figure that she could do without.” As a description of the play explains: “Home for a visit, Edna’s son Andrew tries to bridge the gulf between the childhood love they shared and the aggressively polite but baffling relationship they now live with. Mother and son stumble toward honesty as they wrestle with the distractions–-both mundane and profound—that keep us from real connection.”

The production, which began previews Sept. 15,  opens Sept. 25 and runs through Nov. 6, 2016 in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St. For tickets ($20 – $89) call (312) 335-1650 or visit www.steppenwolf.org.