Steppenwolf Theatre Company is thrilled to announce that longtime ensemble member Randall Arney will direct the highly anticipated Steppenwolf revival of Sam Shepard’s True West—the production that catapulted Steppenwolf onto the American Theatre scene in 1982. Reimagined through the eyes of the new generation of Steppenwolf artists, the 2019 production of True West features ensemble members Jon Michael Hill and Namir Smallwood. True West runs July 5 – August 18, 2019 in the Downstairs Theatre. Tickets ($20 - $96) go on sale April 26, 2019 at 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org
“One of the goals of our upcoming production of True West is to bridge the gap between Steppenwolf's storied past and our bold and exciting future. To that end, we are thrilled to have ensemble member Randall Arney signed on to direct Jon Hill and Namir Smallwood in the final play of our 43rd Season,” shares Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro.
“Randy brings not only his long-time institutional knowledge, but also a deep passion and excitement for True West and an exciting vision that brings the play to the current moment.”
Randall Arney joined the company in 1984 right in the midst of the first real wave of national attention that came from Steppenwolf’s productions of Balm in Gilead and the original True West. After the success of Steppenwolf’s initial production of True West, later that year the company remounted the show at the Apollo Theater Chicago for an extended run before it transferred to New York. For the Apollo run, Randall Arney joined the True West cast as “Saul” alongside ensemble members Jeff Perry (Austin) and ensemble member John Malkovich (Lee), with Gary Sinise directing.
Randall served as Steppenwolf Artistic Director from 1987 - 1995 during which time he established the current Steppenwolf space at 1650 N. Halsted and oversaw the Broadway transfers of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, The Song of Jacob Zulu (six Tony Award nominations) and The Grapes of Wrath (1990 Tony Award, Best Play).
From 1999 - 2017, Randall Arney served as the Artistic Director of The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, bringing both critical acclaim and financial prosperity to the landmark LA theater.
In the past years, Randall Arney has directed Steppenwolf's wildly successful productions of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Slow Girl and The Seafarer.
By Sam Shepard
Directed by ensemble member Randall Arney
Featuring ensemble members Jon Michael Hill and Namir Smallwood
July 5 – August 18, 2019
In the Downstairs Theatre
In 1982, Steppenwolf exploded onto the American Theatre scene with its now legendary production of Sam Shepard’s True West. This American classic traces the sometimes violent and always volatile relationship of Austin and Lee, estranged brothers who find themselves trapped together in their mother’s empty house with not much more than a typewriter and a set of golf clubs. In its first Steppenwolf revival, we re-imagine Shepard’s masterpiece through the eyes of our new generation of Steppenwolf artists, with a little help from those who came before.
Steppenwolf’s original production of True West opened in 1982 with then fairly unknown actors Jeff Perry (Austin) and John Malkovich (Lee) playing the leads, alongside ensemble members Francis Guinan and Laurie Metcalf, directed by Gary Sinise. With Sam Shepard's approval, Steppenwolf’s production transferred to Off-Broadway, where it opened at Cherry Lane Theatre in October 1982 with Gary Sinise taking on the role of ‘Austin.’ It closed on August 4, 1984 after 762 performances. A television movie of the stage play, featuring Sinise and Malkovich, aired on the PBS series "American Playhouse" in January 1984.
Cast and Director Bios
Jon Michael Hill (Austin) has been a Steppenwolf ensemble member since 2007 and was last seen on Steppenwolf’s stage as Moses in Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over, which was filmed by Spike Lee and released by Amazon Studios. Hill reprised the role of Moses in the Lincoln Center Theater production the following year. Hill currently appears as ‘Detective Marcus Bell’ in the CBS-TV series, Elementary. He was nominated for a Tony Award and won an Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World Award for his role as ‘Franco Wicks’ in the Broadway production of Superior Donuts by ensemble member Tracy Letts, a role which he originated at Steppenwolf. Hill has also performed at Steppenwolf in The Hot L Baltimore, The Tempest, Kafka on the Shore and The Unmentionables. Additional television and film credits include Detroit 1-8-7, Eastbound and Down, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Person of Interest.
Namir Smallwood (Lee) joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in March 2017, where he has been seen in Aziza Barnes’ BLKS, Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ Monster, Christina Anderson’s Man In Love and The Hot L Baltimore. Other Chicago credits include The Lost Boys of Sudan (Victory Gardens Theater); the world premiere of Philip Dawkins’ Charm (Northlight Theatre); The Grapes of Wrath (Gift Theatre) and East Texas Hot Links (Writers’ Theatre). Regional credits include Marin Theatre Company, Pillsbury House Theatre, Ten Thousand Things and Guthrie Theater. New York credits include Lincoln Center Theater’s productions of Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau and Pass Over by Antoinette Nwandu. Television credits include Chicago Fire and Betrayal.
Randall Arney has been a theater professional for over 30 years and ensemble member and former artistic director of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre where his directing credits include Slowgirl, The Seafarer, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Death and the Maiden, Curse of the Starving Class, Killers, and The Geography of Luck, among others. Arney also directed Steppenwolf’s world premiere of Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile, as well as the subsequent national and internationally acclaimed productions. Mr. Arney’s acting credits with Steppenwolf include Born Yesterday, Ghost in the Machine, The Homecoming, Frank’s Wild Years, You Can’t Take It with You, Fool for Love, True West, Balm in Gilead, and Coyote Ugly. As the artistic director for Steppenwolf from 1987 to 1995, Arney oversaw the creation of a new state-of-the-art theater which is Steppenwolf’s current home. Broadway transfers under his leadership include The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, The Song of Jacob Zulu (six Tony Award nominations) and The Grapes of Wrath (1990 Tony Award, Best Play). Arney recently served as the artistic director of the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles (1999 to 2017). In addition to his artistic programming and oversight at the Geffen, Arney has directed many productions for the theater, including Icebergs, Outside Mullingar, The Night Alive, Reasons to Be Pretty, Slowgirl, American Buffalo, Superior Donuts, The Female of the Species, Speed-the-Plow, and All My Sons. Arney has an M.F.A. degree in Acting from Illinois State University and has taught master classes and workshops at the University of California, Los Angeles; Steppenwolf, around the U.S., and in Tokyo. Member of SAG-AFTRA, SDC, and Equity.
Single tickets to True West ($20 - $96) go on sale April 26, 2019. If interested in securing a seat now, purchase a Black Card Membership and receive six tickets good for any show, any time; tickets are sold at a reduced price, valid for one year at the time of purchase, and all exchanges are free and easy. More info at steppenwolf.org/blackcard. Red Card Memberships offer audiences under the age of 30 six tickets at a discounted price to use towards any play, any time, www.steppenwolf.org/red. For questions about Membership packages and perks, call Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or visit steppenwolf.org/memberships.
Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N Halsted St near all forms of public transportation, bike racks and Divvy bike stands. The parking facility ($12 or $14, cash or card) is located just south of our theater at 1624 N Halsted. Valet parking service ($14 cash) is available directly in front of the main entrance starting at 5pm on weeknights, 1pm on weekends and at 12noon before Wednesday matinees. Limited street and lot parking are also available. For last minute questions and concerns, patrons can call the Steppenwolf Parking Hotline at 312-335-1774.
Committed to making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to everyone, performances featuring American Sign Language Interpretation, Open Captioning and Audio Description are offered during the run of each play. Assistive listening devices and large-print programs are available for every performance, and the Downstairs and 1700 Theatres are each equipped with an induction hearing loop. All theaters feature wheelchair accessible seating and restrooms, and Front Bar features a push-button entrance, all-gender restrooms and accessible counter and table spaces.
United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Steppenwolf.
Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks
Connected to the main lobby is Steppenwolf’s own Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, offering a warm, creative space to grab a drink, have a bite, or meet up with friends and collaborators, day or night. Open Tuesdays – Sundays from 8am to midnight, Front Bar serves artisanal coffee and espresso provided by La Colombe and food prepared by Goddess and Grocer. The menu focuses on fresh, accessible fare, featuring grab-and-go salads and sandwiches for lunch and adding shareable small plates and desserts for evening and post show service. front-bar.com
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble represents a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County and Pass Over—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programing includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.
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