Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the nation’s premier ensemble theater company, is pleased to present the Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ (SYA) world premiere of 1919, adapted by J. Nicole Brooks from Eve L. Ewing’s collection of luminous and searing poems about the killing of Black teenager Eugene Williams in 1919 off the segregated Chicago lakeshore – and how this tragedy reverberates today.
Directed by Gabrielle Randle-Bent and Tasia A. Jones, the cast includes Sheldon D. Brown, Demorris Burrows, Jessica Dean Turner, Max Thomas, Sola Thompson and Alexis Jeane Ward.
The cast of Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ world premiere adaptation of 1919 includes (top, l to r) Sheldon D. Brown, Demorris Burrows and Jessica Dean Turner (bottom, l to r), Max Thomas, Sola Thompson and Alexis Jeane Ward.
1919 will play October 4 – 29, 2022 – the second-ever production in Steppenwolf’s stunning new in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell – the centerpiece of its recently unveiled Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center.
There will be public performances and student matinees of 1919, inviting all audiences to experience this world premiere. Tickets are $5 for teens and college students; $20 for the general public. Steppenwolf members get first access to tickets. Single tickets to 1919are available at steppenwolf.org and 312-335-1650.
Student matinees will take place at 10 am on the following dates: October 4-7, 11-14, 18-21 and 25-28. Recommended for grades nine and up. To register your school, click here. Tickets are only $5 for students and chaperones are free.
Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center
The entirety of Steppenwolf’s new Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center will be activated around 1919, with Steppenwolf Education offering workshops and programming in The Loft for educators and students, as well as presenting programs by teens for teens, and bringing educational workshops to classrooms across Chicago. The Loft is Steppenwolf’s first-ever dedicated education space, encompassing the entire fourth floor of the Arts and Education Center. Steppenwolf was founded more than 45 years ago by a circle of students who craved a space to call their own, and the Arts and Education Center continues and amplifies that vision, growing the reach of Steppenwolf’s education programming from 20,000 to 30,000 students annually. For more information on The Loft and Steppenwolf Education programming, visit steppenwolf.org/education.
The Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell is located at the heart of the Arts and Education Center. This intimate and state-of-the-art 400-seat theater in the round is one of its kind in Chicago, with theater design and acoustics by Charcoalblue. Only six rows deep—with audience members never more than 20 feet from the stage—Charcoalblue designed the incredibly intimate Ensemble Theater from the inside out to integrate the theater into the fabric of the surrounding building, providing a truly unique theatergoing experience.
Steppenwolf for Young Adults is also pleased to announce the return of the SYA Tour. SYA will present five FREE public performances of 1919 at Park District Cultural Centers across the City from November 1 – 5, 2022. Locations will be announced shortly. The 1919 tour is presented as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series, supported by the Mayor’s Office and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. For additional information and updates, visit steppenwolf.org/tickets--events/seasons/2022-23/1919/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
1919 – World Premiere
By Eve L. Ewing
Adapted by J. Nicole Brooks
Directed by Gabrielle Randle-Bent and Tasia A. Jones
Featuring Sheldon D. Brown (Human 5), Demorris Burrows (Human 2), Jessica Dean Turner (Human 1), Max Thomas (Human 3), Sola Thompson (Human 6) and Alexis Jeane Ward (Human 4).
On July 27, 1919, Chicago erupted following the killing of 17-year-old Eugene Williams in treacherous waters off the segregated Lake Michigan shoreline. The days that followed made an indelible mark on the city – its sense of boundaries, of relationships between neighbors, and of the underlying systems of inequity and racism that persist today. Adapted from Ewing's poems, J. Nicole Brooks' play is a bold, hopeful, lyrical exploration of Black Chicagoans’ resistance, fortitude and endurance: past, present and future.
October 4 – 29, 2022
Press Performance: Saturday, October 8 at 2:30 pm
In the Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell
Tickets are $5 for teens and college students; $20 for the general public. Steppenwolf members get first access to tickets. Single tickets to 1919 go on sale Wednesday, August 10 at 12 pm at steppenwolf.org and 312-335-1650.
The 1919 production team includes Yu Shibagaki (Scenic Design), Gregory Graham (Costume Design), Jason Lynch (Lighting Design), Mikhail Fiksel (Sound Design), Meida McNeal & Abra Johnson (Movement Direction), Abhi Shrestha (Dramaturg), Stan Brown (Vocal Coach), JC Clementz (Casting Director), Michelle Medvin (Production Stage Manager) and Nikki Konomos (Assistant Stage Manager). For full cast and creative team bios, visit steppenwolf.org/tickets--events/seasons/2022-23/1919/.
Dr. Eve L. Ewing (Author) is a sociologist of education and a writer from Chicago. She is the award-winning author of four books: the poetry collections Electric Arches and 1919, the nonfiction work Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side, and most recently a novel for young readers, Maya and the Robot. She is the co-author (with Nate Marshall) of the play No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. She has written several projects for Marvel Comics, most notably the Ironheart series as well as Marvel Team-Up and Champions. Ewing is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and many other venues. Currently she is working on her next book, Original Sins: The (Mis)education of Black and Native Children and the Construction of American Racism, which will be published by One World.
J. Nicole Brooks (Playwright) is an actor, writer, director, and educator based in Chicago. Brooks’s writing practice includes playwriting, screenwriting, essays, and poetry. As a theatre artist, Brooks is an ensemble member and Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at the Tony Award-winning Lookingglass Theatre Company. Other artistic affiliations include artistic membership at Collaboration and Sideshow Theatre Company. As a playwright, Brooks has created original works including Black Diamond: The Years the Locusts Have Eaten; Fedra: Queen of Haiti; HeLa; Black Moon Lilith and the award-winning Her Honor Jane Byrne. Brooks has also served as director and associate director mounting successful theatre productions of Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting; Thaddeus & Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure; Her Honor Jane Byrne; Sex with Strangers; and Black Diamond: The Years the Locusts Have Eaten. Honors include TCG Fox Foundation, 3Arts, Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Kilroys List, the 2021 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award for Her Honor Jane Byrne and the Chicago Public Library Foundation 21st Century Award. Brooks is also an award-winning actor appearing in theatrical productions at Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass, Court Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, and Theatre at Boston Court. Recent television credits include guest recurring roles on the cult fav South Side (HBO Max), The Chi (Showtime), Chicago Fire (NBC, Hulu) and the critically acclaimed chapter four of Fargo (FX Network) starring opposite Chris Rock. Brooks also appeared in the box office hit CANDYMAN (Say My Name) directed by Nia DaCosta produced by Jordan Peele.
Tasia A. Jones (Director) is a director, performer, and educator focused on social justice and civically engaged theatre practices. She is an Assistant Professor of Instruction at Northwestern University. Steppenwolf Theatre Company: Pass Over (Assistant Director); The Roommate (Assistant Director). Chicago: Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer (Goodman Theatre, Associate Director); Intimate Apparel (Northlight Theatre); The MLK Project (Writers Theatre); The Steadfast Tin Soldier (Lookingglass Theatre, Assistant Director). Regional: Intimate Apparel (Utah Shakespeare Festival); Small Mouth Sounds (UCCS Theatreworks); Seussical (Jean’s Playhouse). Upcoming: Intimate Apparel (Northlight Theatre); A Raisin in the Sun (American Players Theatre). Education: MFA Directing, Northwestern University; BFA Theatre Arts, Boston University.
Gabrielle Randle-Bent (Director) is a scholar, dramaturg, and director based in Chicago. Steppenwolf Theatre Company: We are Proud to Present a Presentation… Off Broadway: Terminus (Dramaturg). Chicago: Othello (Court Theatre); Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Dramaturg, Court Theatre); For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf (Dramaturg, Court Theatre); The Oedipus Trilogy (Dramaturg, Court Theatre); Les Blancs (Court Theatre); The Pride Before (Sideshow Theatre Company); I, Banquo (Dramaturg, Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Intimate Apparel (Dramaturg, North Light). Upcoming: Year of Magical Thinking (Remy Bumppo); Once on this Island (Dramaturg, Oregon Shakespeare Festival). BA Stanford University, MA University of Texas at Austin, PhD Candidate Northwestern University.
The Expanded Steppenwolf Campus
Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s trailblazing new 50,000 square foot theater building and education center, the Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, was designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill FAIA of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, with construction by Norcon. The centerpiece of the new Arts and Education Center is the new 400-seat in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell—one of its kind in Chicago—with theater design and acoustics by Charcoalblue.
The expanded Steppenwolf campus is a cultural nexus for Chicago, offering bold and ambitious opportunities for creative expression, social exchange, unparalleled accessibility, and arts-driven learning for Chicago youth in The Loft, Steppenwolf’s first-ever dedicated education space. The campus expansion also features bright new lobbies and two new full-service bars for socializing designed by fc STUDIO, inc. The $54 million new building is part of Steppenwolf’s multi-phase $73 million Building on Excellence expansion campaign. Learn more about Steppenwolf’s campus expansion at steppenwolf.org/buildingonexcellence.
A Safe Return
As the Chicago theatre community continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Steppenwolf Theatre remains committed to the safety of its patrons and staff. For the most-up-to-date information on our venue’s COVID precautions, please visit steppenwolf.org/welcomeback.
Steppenwolf offers accessible services to ensure all audience members have access to our work, including American Sign Language interpretation (available for student matinees as scheduled with education staff or per public performances below), Spanish Language captions, wheelchair accessible seating and more. With questions, email email@example.com.
1919 is generously supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and the Robert & Isabelle Bass Foundation, Inc. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf is also grateful for the significant season support from the Ralla Klepak Foundation for Education in the Performing Arts, Northern Trust, Allstate Insurance Company, ComEd, JPMorgan Chase, PNC, and Vinci Restaurant. Additional Steppenwolf Education support comes from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, and Polk Bros. Foundation.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a Chicago theater that is home to America’s ensemble. The company began performing in the mid-1970s in the basement of a Highland Park, IL church—today Steppenwolf is the nation’s premier ensemble theater with 49 members who are among the top actors, playwrights and directors in the field. Deeply rooted in its ensemble ethos, the company is committed to equity, diversity, inclusion and making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to all. Groundbreaking productions from Balm in Gilead and August: Osage County to Downstate and Pass Over—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony® Awards—have made the theatre legendary. Artistic programming includes a main stage season; a Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; LookOut, a multi-genre performance series; and the Steppenwolf NOW virtual stage. The nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf Education engages more than 20,000 participants annually in Chicagoland communities promoting compassion, encouraging curiosity and inspiring action. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, more than 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. 2021 marks the opening of Steppenwolf’s landmark Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts & Education Center—deepening the company’s commitment to Chicagoland teens and serving as a cultural nexus for Chicago. Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis are the Artistic Directors and E. Brooke Flanagan is Executive Director. Keating Crown is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees
Steppenwolf’s Mission: Steppenwolf strives to create thrilling, courageous and provocative art in a thoughtful and inclusive environment. We succeed when we disrupt your routine with experiences that spark curiosity, empathy and joy. We invite you to join our ensemble as we navigate, together, our complex world. steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.