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Broadway-bound Tracy Letts play in Steppenwolf’s 2017-18 season

Rajiv Joseph's play, "Guards at the Taj," will be part of Steppenwolf Theatre's 2017-2018 season. | Photo by Doug Hamilton/courtesy of Atlantic Theater Company

Steppenwolf Theatre’s 2017-2018 season will feature seven plays, including a world premiere by Tracy Letts already scheduled for a Broadway transfer, and the Chicago premiere of a hit production seen in New York that will be remounted by its original director, Amy Morton, and feature its original cast.

The season of seven plays (including three world premieres and four Chicago premieres), was announced Tuesday by the company’s artistic director, Anna D. Shapiro, and executive director David Schmitz, and has been designed, according to Shapiro, “to embrace diversity, compassion and imagination.”

Steppenwolf Theatre's executive director, David Schmitz and artistic director Anna D. Shapiro in the theater's 1700 cafe/bar. | Photo by Frank Ishman

Steppenwolf Theatre’s executive director, David Schmitz, and artistic director Anna D. Shapiro, in the Front Bar of the company’s 1700 Theatre. (Photo: Frank Ishman)emiere of Guards at the Taj with the original cast—

Here is a closer look at the season:

+ “The Rembrandt” (Sept. 7 – Oct. 22 in the Upstairs Theatre): This Chicago premiere by Jessica Dickey, directed by Hallie Gordon and featuring ensemble members Francis Guinan and John Mahoney, is set in motion when a museum guard decides to touch a famous Rembrandt painting and a remarkable journey ensues. Spanning centuries of human experience, Dickey’s story explores the power of creative expression, and the sacrifices we make in the pursuit of love and beauty. Dickey is most widely known for her beautiful play, “The Amish Project.”

+ “The Minutes” (Nov. 9 – Dec. 31, 2017 in the Downstairs Theatre), by Tracy Letts. This world premiere (which follows fast on the heels of this month’s world premiere of Letts’ play, “Linda Vista”), will mark the fifth collaboration between the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright and director Shapiro, and will feature ensemble members Ian Barford, Francis Guinan and Tim Hopper. Following its Steppenwolf debut it will move directly to Broadway in Spring 2018. The play is being described as “a scathing new comedy about small-town politics and real-world power that exposes the closely-held American narratives while [also] asking each of us what we would do to keep from becoming history’s losers.”

Playwright Tracy Letts. (Photo: Tim Boyle)

Playwright Tracy Letts. | Photo by Tim Boyle

+ “BLKS” (Dec. 7, 2017 – Jan. 21, 2018, Upstairs): A world premiere by poet Aziza Barnes, directed by Nataki Garrett and including the company’s just named new ensemble member, Namir Smallwood (seen recently in the Steppenwolf for Young Adults show, “Monsters,” as well as in “The Grapes of Wrath” at The Gift Theatre) in the cast. After a morning that includes a cancer scare and kicking her girlfriend out of the house, Octavia decides to have a last “turn up” with her best friends in this portrait of a day in the life of four young women of color in New York City that explores the joy and anguish of “growing up and out.”

+ “You Got Older” (Jan. 25 – March 11, 2018, Downstairs): This Chicago premiere by Clare Barron, directed by Jonathan Berry (the prolific Chicago director who is  an artistic producer at Steppenwolf), will feature ensemble members Audrey Francis and Caroline Neff. Barron tells the story of Mae, brokenhearted and unemployed, who returns home to care for her ailing father and escape the loneliness of a life that just can’t seem to get off the ground. It explores “the haunted place between where we started and where we need to be that finds the most tender among us, and breaks them open.”

+ “The Doppelgänger (an international farce)” (April 5 – May 20, 2018, Downstairs): This world premiere by Matthew-Lee Erlbach, an actor and playwright from Chicago and New York, will be directed by Tina Landau and feature ensemble members Alana Arenas, Gary Cole, Ora Jones, Sandra Marquez and James Vincent Meredith. It takes us to the dangerous back channels of international resource politics as a wealthy British businessman suffers an untimely accident just before a critical African copper deal is signed. When his unwitting (and witless) American doppelgänger is thrust into negotiations to avert intercontinental disaster, chaos erupts, leaving us to ask: Whose side are we supposed to be on, who will save Africa, and who are the unlikely cast of characters who makes the deals that shape our world?

Steppenwolf ensemble member Amy Morton will direct a remount of her acclaimed New York production of the Rajiv ...play, "The ...." (Photo: Courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre)

Steppenwolf ensemble member Amy Morton will direct a remount of her acclaimed New York production of Rajiv Joseph’s play, “Guards at the Taj.” | Photo courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre

+ “Guards at the Taj” (May 31 – July 15, 2018, Upstairs): Rajiv Joseph’s play, directed by Amy Morton, will feature original New York cast members Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed. It is set in India in 1648, as the dawn reveals for the first time the extraordinary beauty of the Taj Mahal, which was built as a tribute to the ruler who demanded its construction. But for two hapless imperial guards, “the morning light brings with it an unspeakable task that will shake their faith in God, the empire and their lifelong friendship….as the play examines the true meaning of beauty and the cost of transcendence in a world that confuses the value of both.”

+ “The Roommate” (June 21 – Aug. 5, 2018, Downstairs): This Chicago premiere by Jen Silverman,which premiered at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville in 2015, will feature ensemble members Ora Jones and Sandra Marquez. While Sharon is Midwestern nice, to Robyn, her new roommate from the Bronx, that just means nosy and extremely talkative. But this comical mismatch leads to a surprising and touching friendship in this new comedy “about how early-life choices lead to mid-life challenges and the unexpected rewards of bridging the divide.”

For tickets and information about Steppenwolf’s many flexible subscription plans call (312) 335-1650 or visit www.steppenwolf.org.