In conjunction with the world premiere of BLKS by acclaimed poet/playwright Aziza Barnes this December, Steppenwolf Theatre Company has collaborated with Barnes to bring a beautiful lineup of Black artists, queer artists, women-identified artists, artists of color and their communities to Steppenwolf’s LookOut Series. The BLKS Salon Series celebrates the themes and conversations sparked by Barnes’s play—an ingenious portrait of a day in the life of four young black women in New York City.
All events take place in Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted. Individual tickets are $5. Purchase all four events for $15, plus receive a discounted ticket offer to BLKS. Tickets go on sale Friday, November 3 at 11am through Audience Services at 312.335.1650 or steppenwolf.org.
BLKS runs December 7 – January 28, 2018 in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St.
BLKS Salon Series Lineup
In the 1700 Theatre
Thursday, December 14, 8pm
An Intentional Turn Up with Slo 'Mo Party
Slo ‘Mo, Chicago’s party for lovers, presents an evening of joy and self-care through sensuality and community connection in celebration of Aziza Barnes’s BLKS. Weaving in the party's iconic "slow jams for queer fam" mission, the evening will feature the Slo 'Mo family & sound.
Saturday, December 16, 8pm
B.A.P.S. Comedy Presents: Curlz, 'Fros & Braids
B.A.P.S. Comedy presents a night of stand-up and sketches highlighting the wonders, woes and 'fros of being us. Three Black women.
Sunday, December 17, 7pm
The Poetry Gods Featuring Eve L. Ewing
Poets are f**ing hilarious. Joyful and absurd, with stories for days. We hear them at the bar, during their banter at the reading. We wanted to hear it in a podcast. So we made one. Hosted by Aziza Barnes, Jon Sands and José Olivarez.
Tuesday, December 19, 8pm
BLKS Poetry Salon: Curated and Hosted by Aziza Barnes
After spending the last six weeks in Chicago bringing BLKS to life, poet and playwright Aziza Barnes says goodbye-for-now to Chicago with a Poetry Salon featuring a lineup of beloved, supremely talented Chicago poets. Join Aziza and friends for a night of poetry, performance, story and community
FREE! Every Friday during BLKS
Live DJ Series Curated by Party Noire: Every Friday in Front Bar during the run of BLKS join Party Noire, Chicago’s leading curators of culture, cool and Black Joy for a specially selected lineup of DJs spinning from 6-11pm. Fridays include Dec 8, 15, 22, 29, Jan 5, 12, 19, 26.
BLKS by Aziza Barnes (Dec 7, 2017 – Jan 28, 2018)
Steppenwolf presents the world premiere production of BLKS by award-winning poet and playwright Aziza Barnes and directed by Nataki Garrett. An uproarious and frank play, the acclaimed Chicago-based cast features ensemble member Namir Smallwood (Justin /Sosa/Pedro/Dominican Dude) with Leea Ayers (June), Nora Carroll (Octavia), Celeste Cooper (Imani), Danielle Davis (Ry) and Kelly O’Sullivan (That Bitch on the Couch/White Woman). BLKS begins previews December 7, 2017, opening night is December 18 and the production runs through January 28, 2018 in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St. Press performances are Monday, December 18 at 7:30pm and Wednesday, December 20 at 7:30pm; Single tickets ($20-$89) are available at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Pay Your Age available for all preview performances, Dec 7 – 17.
F**ked up sh*t happens. After an unsavory wake-up call, Octavia decides to put off her troubles and have one last turn up with her friends. In poet Aziza Barnes’s ingenious portrait of a day in the life of four young black women discovering life’s uncomfortable truths in New York City, BLKS explores the joy and anguish of growing up and out. Riotously funny and distinctly rendered, Barnes’s playwriting debut marks the arrival of a truly original contemporary American voice.
“BLKS is a self-portrait of me and my best friends in our cripplingly early 20s. So, a bunch of painful absurdity, that whenever I sit down to edit the latest draft reveals more to me than I can imagine or even am ready for. BLKS for me is emotionally rigorous and delightful because I’m constantly laughing with the person I was and am, and the jokes me and my kin tell each other,” shares Aziza Barnes.
Aziza Barnes is the winner of the 2015 Pamet River Prize for Aziza’s first full length collection i be but i ain’t, from YesYes Books 2016. Barnes is a Cave Canem Fellow and co-host of the popular podcast, The Poetry Gods. Z is a graduate of New York University and participant in the 2016 Ojai Playwrights Conference.
Nataki Garrett was named in American Theatre Magazine’s “One to Watch” and is the Associate Artistic Director of Denver Center for the Performing Arts, a Company Member at Woolly Mammoth and co-Artistic Director of BLANK THE DOG PRODUCTIONS (BTD). Most recently for BTD she directed Carolyn Bryant, which focuses on the decades-long silence of the woman for whom Emmett Till was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955. Garrett directed An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Woolly Mammoth, which was remounted in July.
The BLKS production team includes Sibyl Wickersheimer (scenic design), Trevor Bowen (costume design), Marcus Doshi (lighting design), Rasean Davonte Johnson (projection design), T. Carlis Roberts (sound design & original music) and Gigi Buffington (Company Vocal Coach). Additional credits include Malcolm Ewen (stage manager), Cassie Calderone (assistant stage manager), JC Clementz (casting director) and Anna D. Shapiro (artistic producer).
Ticket prices and offers: Previews: $20 – $54, Regular Run: $20 – $89. Prices subject to change 20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available on the day of the performance at 11am (Mon – Sat) and 1pm (Sun) by phone only at 312-335-1650. Limit 2 per person. Pay Your Age: Available for preview performances December 7-17, 2017. Industry Tuesdays: $20 Industry tickets offered on Tuesdays. Rush Tickets: Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show. Student Discounts: Limited $15 student tickets are available online. (Limit 2 tickets. Must present a valid student ID for each ticket) steppenwolf.org/students. Group Tickets: All groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance. Black Card Memberships are for audiences interested in extreme flexibility with six tickets for use any time for any production. Credits valid for one year with the option to add additional tickets as needed. Perks include easy and free exchanges, access to seats before the general public, savings on single ticket prices and bar and restaurant discounts for pre- and post-show socializing. Red Card memberships are available for theatergoers under 30. Audience Services: To purchase a membership or tickets or for more information, contact Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St) at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.
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 is 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. www.front-bar.com
Steppenwolf Theatre Community Conversations Series is Presented by Allstate.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble of 49 members represent a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County—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.