This summer’s runaway hit is Steep Theatre’s Lela & Co. Called “a flawless piece of work” by Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune, this powerful U.S. premiere will run through September 16. Steep is adding eight new chances to hear Lela’s passionately told story of resilience and hope in the face of overwhelming adversity, featuring Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel and Chris Chmelik, whose performances have been described as “stunning,” “fantastic,” and “extraordinary empathetic.”
This will be the final extension of Lela & Co., as Steep makes way for their production of Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar's The Invisible Hand, which will open on October 5.
Steep Theatre introduces another emerging British playwright to Chicago with the U.S. Premiere of Cordelia Lynn’s Lela & Co., directed by Robin Witt, featuring Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel and Chris Chmelik. This production marks Lynn’s U.S. debut, but Chicago audiences are no stranger to the work of director Robin Witt. Witt, a Steep Company Member, has been at the helm of some of the ensemble’s most memorable shows, including Simon Stephens’ Wastwater, Motortown, Pornography, and Harper Regan; Dennis Kelly‘s Love and Money; and Alistair McDowall’s Brilliant Adventures. She won the 2015 and 2016 Jeff Award for Best Director for Griffin Theatre's Flare Path and London Wall.
Called “searing” by The Guardian and “a shattering piece of writing” by The Financial Times, Lela & Co. premiered at the Royal Court in London in 2015 to much critical acclaim. Lela says that stories become truth in the telling, and this intimate and powerful play reminds us how many truths go untold in times of conflict and oppression.
“It is a privilege and a joy to introduce Lela and Cordelia Lynn to Chicago audiences,“ said Steep Artistic Director Peter Moore. “This is one of the most affecting and important scripts I‘ve ever read, and Robin and her creative team are assembling a world for this story that will make it all the more stirring.”
About the Playwright
Cordelia Lynn‘s debut play After the War has been performed in venues around the UK and abroad. Her second, Believers Anonymous, was staged at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in 2012 (TimeOut Critic’s Choice). She has taken part in the Royal Court Young Writers Programme (2012) and is a member of the Soho Theatre Young Writers Company. Her play Lela & Co was performed at the Royal Court to great critical acclaim. Ms. Lynn was the recipient of the Royal Court‘s 2017 Pinter Commission, an annual award to support the creation of a new work.
About the Director
Director Robin Witt, a Steep Ensemble Member, has been at the helm for many of Steep’s most successful UK imports, including Simon Stephens’ Wastwater, Motortown, Pornography, and Harper Regan; Alistair McDowall’s Brilliant Adventures; Dennis Kelly’s Love and Money; Jez Butterworth’s Parlour Song; and Laura Wade’s Breathing Corpses. Her Harper Regan is still the best-selling show in Steep history and was named one of the Top Ten shows of 2010 by both the Chicago Tribune and TimeOut Chicago, and her Breathing Corpses was named one of TimeOut’s Top Ten Shows of 2008. In addition to directing numerous productions at Steep, Robin is also an ensemble member of Griffin Theatre Company where she has directed Ferber and Kaufman's Stage Door, Terrence Rattigan's Flare Path, Ena Lamont Stewart’s Men Should Weep, and John Van Druten’s London Wall. Witt received Jeff Award nominations for Best Director for Flare Path, London Wall, and Men Should Weep, for which she won the 2015 and 2016 Awards. Her productions have been cited as "Best of the Year" by The Chicago Tribune, TimeOut Chicago, and Chicago Reader. She has worked at a variety of Chicago area theatres including The Goodman, A Red Orchid, and Steppenwolf. Robin recently directed Juliet: A Dialogue About Love for sacred playground theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts (BFA) and Northwestern University (MFA). Robin is an Assistant Professor at UNC Charlotte.
About the Cast
Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel received her degree in acting from the Universidad del Salvador. Chicago credits include: La Havana Madrid and i put the fear of Mexico in 'em (Teatro Vista), Electra (Court Theatre), You on the Moors Now (The Hypocrites), The Compass (Steppenwolf Theatre- SYA), The Grown Up (Shattered Globe Theatre), The Life and Death of Madam Barker (Red Tape Theater), Your Problem With Men (Teatro Luna), The Clean House (Something Marvelous), and Corazon de Manzana (Mortar Theatre). Film Credits include: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Cruz is a graduate of the Improv Training Program at iO Theatre and an ensemble member at Teatro Vista.
Chris Chmelik is a founding member of The Inconvenience, a multidisciplinary arts group in Chicago. As an actor and performer, Chris has appeared in The Inconvenience’s productions of The Earl, Chicagoland, Our House, Strapped, and The Fly Honey Show. Select other Chicago credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor, Short Shakespeare! The Comedy of Errors, and King Lear (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Motortown, The Hollow Lands (Steep Theatre); Reverb (Redtwist Theatre); Coriolanus (The Hypocrites); Letters Home, On The Shore Of The Wide World, The Hostage (Griffin Theatre); The Sea (Theatre Mir); and Wuthering Heights (Lifeline Theatre). Television Credits include Sirens (USA), Double Cross (ID), Chicago Fire (NBC), and the upcoming feature film Death Wish. Chris received his BFA in acting from The Theatre School at DePaul.
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 16th 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
July 13 – September 16, 2017
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8pm
Sunday matinees at 3pm
General Admission Tickets: $25
Reserved Seat Tickets: $35
Access Tickets: $10 (Steep’s universal discount for students, artists, whomever)
Cast headshots and bios are available at steeptheatre.com/lela
Production Photos available at goo.gl/zEVwFG
Director – Robin Witt*
Stage Manager – Lauren Lassus**
Set Design – Joe Schermoly
Lighting Design – Brandon Wardell**
Sound Design – Thomas Dixon**
Costume Design – Jessica Kuehnau Wardell
Prop Design – Maria DeFabo**
Fight Choreography – Christina Gorman
Dramaturg – Carina Abbaticchio
Assistant Directors – Michael Rogerson & Isabel Perry
Production Manager – Julia Siple*