Unbelievably powerful...beautiful...an extraordinary play (WBEZ)


In anticipation of her birthday, Shelah’s family and friends gather at her home in the Head of Passes—the mysterious shifting marshlands at the mouth of the great Mississippi River. As the guests appear, so do ghosts from the past, and Shelah’s convictions about her life begin to dissolve, along with her home in the Louisiana rain. Ensemble members Tarell Alvin McCraney and Tina Landau team up again for this wise, warm world-premiere drama about faith, family and finding your place in the world.

Head of Passes is the recipient of a Joyce Award.This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Watch & Listen

  1. <i>HEAD OF PASSES</i> Montage

    HEAD OF PASSES Montage

  2. <i>HEAD OF PASSES</i> Audience Reaction Video

    HEAD OF PASSES Audience Reaction Video

  3. <i>HEAD OF PASSES</i> in Production

    HEAD OF PASSES in Production

  4. <i>HEAD OF PASSES</i> in Rehearsal

    HEAD OF PASSES in Rehearsal

  5. Season Trailer 2012/13

    Season Trailer 2012/13

Cast & Artists

The Artists

Featured Ensemble Members


“Unbelievably powerful…beautiful…an extraordinary play”
The Dueling Critics, WBEZ

“Deep currents of thought and feeling… the very essence of drama”
–Daily Herald

“Speaks to the timeless human condition with humor, candor and intellect”

“Inventive, devastating…Shelah’s faith gets tested in a profound way”
–Time Out Chicago

“The show’s first act finale is a stunner”
–Chicago Sun-Times

“Shelah’s world has collapsed, a change that manifests in all its existential and eye-popping theatrical glory”

“It is one of the VERY finest plays we’ve seen. Head of Passes is a must-see!”
–K Beth, Facebook

“What that set does at the end of Act I is nothing short of astounding”
–Michael, Facebook

“Never have I felt so compelled to talk back to the story. So amazing.”
–Maggie, Twitter

Program Articles

Welcome to Head of Passes

A welcome letter from Artistic Director Martha Lavey

Suspension of Disbelief

An interview with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and Steppenwolf staff members

August 17th, 2006

Steppenwolf’s Literary Manager Aaron Carter shares his personal connection to the play, and invites you to do the same

The End of the World

Steppenwolf Artistic Apprentice Joshua Goode brings the play's unique location to life

You Might Also Be Interested In...

Tarell Alvin McCraney: On the road again
After living in Miami, Chicago, New Haven and London, Tarell doesn't "call anywhere home." (Windy City Media Group)

God at Work: The Divine Genius of Steppenwolf Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney
Get to know Tarell Alvin McCraney, one of the most prominent playwrights of his generation, his career both here and abroad, and his love of socks (Newcity Stage)

Tarell McCraney, like his plays, ever moving
“Doing theater is like being a shark — you have to keep moving” (Chicago Sun-Times)

Tale of two playwrights
Rising stars Quiara Alegria Hudes and Tarell Alvin McCraney debut world-premiere plays (Redeye)

Buy Tickets

Tickets for this production are not currently on sale. Call 312-335-1650 for more information.

Running Time

Content Advisory

Steppenwolf does not offer advisories about subject matter, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have any questions about content, age-appropriateness or stage effects (such as strobe lights or theatrical fog) that might have a bearing on patron comfort, please contact the box office at 312-335-1650.

Additional Information

Downstairs Theatre Info & Seat Map Map / Directions to the theatre Head of Passes program
Ensemble member Jon Michael Hill will take over the role played by Kyle Beltran from May 21 until the show's closing on June 9.

Take advantage of our SONO Sunday's ticket special!

Special Performances

Sign Language-Interpreted
Sunday, May 12 at 7:30pm

Open Captioning
Saturday, May 18 at 3pm

Audio Description and Touch Tour
Sunday, May 26
Touch Tour: 1:30pm
Curtain: 3pm

More from the 2012-13 Season


  • Corporate Production Sponsor
    Corporate Production Sponsor