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Steep Theatre Expansion Planned, Growing Audience and Minds

“Fearless and dicey plays . . . fearless and nervy actors are what make Steep Theatre one of the boldest theaters in Chicago,” said Peter Moore, the theater’s Artistic Director.   Founded in 2000, Steep Theatre is growing its audience and success because of the persistent impact of its work.   Beginning as an itinerant theater, renting empty spaces around town, and then settling in Wrigleyville for five years, Steep Theatre now calls the Edgewater community home.   The theater’s five-year plan includes the expansion of its storefront space from its current 65 maximum seating capacity to 80-100.   “We want to continue drawing in a whole range of people and to captivate traditional and non-traditional-theater goers,” Moore continued.

If There Is_Moore_Kenyon_Marker

Photo by Lee Miller

Steep Theatre’s artists explore ensemble-based “everyman” theater.  In other words, the company selects stories of everyday people in extraordinary circumstances.   Steep is known for producing Midwest premieres and is continuously looking for new plays by writers with new voices.  The task of choosing the best plays out of the many submitted each season is a challenging one.   Fundamentals the theater looks for in a script include that the play be a large ensemble piece, that the script “radiate honesty” and the writing be language-driven, that it illustrates the extraordinary circumstances of ordinary people, and that it has those “moments that wretches your gut.”  Each carefully chosen script needs an ensemble of “fearless actors” and “fearless directors” to shepherd the “audience and stakeholders into bold new territories of story and performance.”  The cast members are a mixture of Steep ensemble members and new faces each play, chosen for their acting ability in “making a normal person uneasy” when the role calls for it.

Steep has received 13 Jeff Award nominations and won the 2009 Jeff Award for Best Ensemble, the 2010 Jeff Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and the 2011 Jeff Award for best Actress in a Leading Role.  Steep was named the 2010 “Broadway in Chicago ” Emerging Theater Award Winner.  Steep’s accomplishments also include their dynamic collaboration with Simon Stephens, a world-renowned and a 2013 Olivier Award winner and Steep’s first Associate Playwright.  Steep’s productions of Stephens’ works include “Harper Reagan,” “Pornography” and “Motortown,”the fall’s play of the 2013-14 season.

Steep showcases more than celebrated writers such as Stephens. This spring it features the Chicago premiere of Nick Payne’s “If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet,” directed by Jeff Award winner and Steep Artistic Associate Jonathan Berry. The play marks the importance of humanity’s ecological footprint on Earth, parallel to the psychological footprint we make on our family.  “With the environment, as with relationships, problems can appear insurmountable and avoidance becomes the easier choice,”   said Berry.

Featuring Peter Moore, Cynthia Marker, Shane Kenyon, and Caitlin Looney,  If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet opened April 18 and runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. through May 24.   Sunday matinee performances are scheduled for April 1,  May 4, 11, and 18 at 3 p.m.  Tickets range from $20 to $22.  To make reservations call (866) 811-4111 or visit www.steeptheatre.com.  Steep is located at 1115 W. Berwyn Ave.


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