Steep Theatre’s 17th season will open this fall with the Chicago premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar‘s The Invisible Hand, directed by Audrey Francis. Akhtar won the Pulitzer for his play Disgraced, which premiered in 2012 at American Theatre Company in Chicago and later played both at the Goodman Theatre and on Broadway. The Invisible Hand opened at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, with subsequent productions in New York and London, earning Mr. Akhtar an OBIE Award for Playwriting and an Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement. This production will mark Ms. Francis’ Steep directorial debut. She is both a Steppenwolf Ensemble Member and a co-founder of Black Box Acting.
The Invisible Hand features Owais Ahmed, Anand Bhatt, Raj Bond, and Steep Company Member Joel Reitsma. Mr. Reitsma, who is coming off an acclaimed turn in Northlight Theatre‘s By the Water, appeared in Steep’s Jeff Award-winning production of Bobbie Clearly and Simon Stephens’ Motortown, for which he was nominated for the Jeff Award for Best Actor in a Featured Role. Mr. Ahmed, Mr. Bhatt, and Mr. Bond have all performed extensively across Chicago and are making their Steep Theatre debuts.
“We‘re honored to have the opportunity to bring a new work by Mr. Akhtar to Chicago,” said Steep Artistic Director Peter Moore. “It‘s a brilliant play that deftly tackles political, financial, religious, and human issues; but it‘s also one helluva a pot-boiler, and I‘m excited to experience it in the intimacy of our space.“
About the Playwright
Ayad Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a novelist and author of American Dervish, published in more than 20 languages worldwide. His play Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, ran on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre, and was nominated for the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play. His plays The Who & The What and The Invisible Hand received Off-Broadway runs and are currently being produced around the world. Akhtar was listed as the most produced playwright for the 2015/16 Season by American Theatre magazine. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has received fellowships from MacDowell, Djerassi, the Sundance Institute, Ucross, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. He is also a Board Trustee at PEN/America and New York Theatre Workshop. Akhtar is currently the Resident Playwright with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.
About the Director
Audrey Francis, an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre and co-founder of Black Box Acting, is working with Steep Theatre for the first time. Audrey has worked in Chicago as an actor, director, and teacher for over ten years. Theatre credits include: The Fundamentals, Between Riverside and Crazy, The Herd, Where We're Born, Life and Limb, Drunken City, Want (Steppenwolf Theatre); Kill Floor (American Theatre Company); Talking Pictures, The Actor (Goodman Theatre); Othello, Another Part of the Forest (Writer's Theatre); Awake and Sing! (Northlight Theatre). Television credits include: Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, ER, and Written Off. Film credits include: Signature Move, Dig Two Graves, Medal of Victory, Dustclouds, and Chicago Overcoat. Commercial and Voice-over credits include campaigns for: Sears, Humana, Ford, Citibank, Kenmore, Moen, Quaker, and Allstate. Directing credits include: Sexual Perversity in Chicago (First Floor Theatre); The Sugar Syndrome (Chicago Dramatists); The Sweetest Swing in Baseball (Step Up Productions); and Life and Limb and The Most Liquid Currency in the World (Pine Box Theatre). Audrey teaches at the School at Steppenwolf, DePaul Theatre School, the University of Chicago, and at The ACADEMY at Black Box Acting.
About the Cast
Owais is a proud Chicago native, where he is an ensemble member of Definition Theatre Co. His theatre credits include The Hard Problem (Court Theatre), The Invisible Hand (Milwaukee Rep), Orange (Mixed Blood Theatre), The Qualms (Steppenwolf Theatre), and Blood & Gifts (Timeline Theatre). Film and television credits include Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (Dir. Zack Snyder), Age Of Ice (Dir. Emile Edwin Smith), & Empire (Dir. John Singleton).
Anand’s theatre credits include Great Expectations (Remy Bumppo/Silk Road); A Disappearing Number (TimeLine Theatre); Multitudes (Vitalist/Rasaka); Mosque Alert (Silk Road Rising); A Widow of No Importance, Washer/Dryer, and A Nice Indian Boy (Rasaka). In addition to acting Anand is also well versed in Martial Arts, Dance, Acrobatics and Parkour stunts.
Raj is a Chicago(land) native and a graduate of the William Esper Studio and Bradley University. His Chicago theatre credits include work with Remy Bumppo Theatre and Silk Road Rising (Pumblechook/Orator in Great Expectations) as well as work with Rasaka Theater, Chicago Dramatists and (re)discover.
Joel is a Steep Theatre Company Member. He has previously been seen at Steep in Bobbie Clearly and Motortown (Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination). Other Chicago credits include By the Water (Northlight Theatre); A Loss of Roses and Vieux Carré (Raven); Lisbon Traviata (Eclipse); Ecstasy (Cole Theatre); and The Brig (Mary Arrchie). He is also acting locally in film and has just wrapped a feature-length indie film. Joel is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.
About Steep Theatre
Housed in what was once a small grocery store steps from the Berwyn Red Line stop, and lead by an ensemble of 34 actors, directors, designers, writers, and other theatre artists, Steep is the quintessential storefront theatre. Described by Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune as "a storefront theater known for the power of its acting," Steep creates powerful productions of plays by today's most exciting writers and features the work of Chicago's hottest theatre artists in an intimate, accessible space. Currently in its 17th season, Steep is known as a home for hard-hitting, finely tuned ensemble work. With each production, the company has shepherded a growing community of audiences and artists into bold new territories of story and performance.
Steep Theatre is conveniently located by the Berwyn Red Line stop and is within blocks of the #92, #36, #146, #147, and #151 buses.
1115 West Berwyn, Chicago, IL 60640
October 5 – November 11, 2017
Press Opening: Thursday, October 5 at 8:00pm
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8pm
Sunday matinees at 3pm on October 15, 22, and 29
-Audio Description: Sunday, October 29 at 3:00pm
-Open Captioning: Saturday, November 4 at 3:00pm
General Admission Tickets: $27
Reserved Seat Tickets: $38
Access Tickets: $10 (Steep’s universal discount for students, artists, whomever)
Starting with this production, Steep’s box office will not charge online ticketing service fees.
Director – Audrey Francis
Stage Manager – Lauren Lassus**
Set Designer – Ashley Ann Woods
Lighting Designer – Meghan Erxleben
Sound Designer & Composer – Thomas Dixon**
Costume Designer – Rachel Sypniewski
Props Designer – Jamie Karas
Fight Choreographer – Almanya Narula
Dialect Coach – Sammi Grant
Dramaturg – Sonny Das
Assistant Director – Abhi Shrestha
Assistant Stage Manager – Serena Dully
Production Manager – Catherine Allen
Technical Director – Brian Sprague
*Denotes Steep Company Member
**Denotes Steep Artistic Associate