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Steppenwolf Opens 30th Season with Last of the Boys by Steven Dietz

Chicago-Steppenwolf Theatre Company opens their 30th season with Last of the Boys by Steven Dietz, directed by ensemble member Rick Snyder, featuring ensemble members Tracy Letts, Mariann Mayberry and Amy Morton, with John Judd and Christopher McLinden. Last of the Boys is a fierce, funny American story about the legacy of a controversial war. The production, the first in Steppenwolf's 30th season committed to new work, begins performances on September 15, 2005 in the Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted. “Last of the Boys is a right fit for Steppenwolf at 30,” states Artistic Director Martha Lavey. "The play is about the legacy of the Vietnam War on the American psyche. Steppenwolf is a theater company that grew up in the long shadow of that war. We're very pleased that our production joins the city-wide observance Commit to Memory, in which we will partner with other Chicago cultural institutions to explore our collective memory of the Vietnam War.” Last of the Boys marks Steven Dietz's first collaboration with Steppenwolf. One of the most produced playwrights in the country, Dietz's other plays include Fiction, Lonely Planet and God's Country. Last of the Boys premiered at the McCarter Theatre in New Jersey in 2004. Dietz has been in residence during rehearsals and continues to work on the play, some eight months after its initial production. “At Steppenwolf, we believe part of our commitment to new plays should include freedom from “premieritis” - the proclivity to only produce a new work if it can be billed as a world premiere,” adds Martha Lavey. “Many playwrights say the only thing harder than getting the first production of their new play is getting the second.” The production also marks ensemble member Rick Snyder's directorial debut in the Downstairs Theatre. Snyder previously directed The Fall to Earth in the Upstairs Theatre and Orange Flower Water in the Garage Theatre. Ensemble member Tracy Letts continues on the Steppenwolf stage after appearing in Bruce Norris' The Pain and the Itch. He gave a highly praised performance in fellow ensemble member Austin Pendleton's Orson's Shadow, playing Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theatre. Also an accomplished playwright, Letts will receive the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation in October 2005. Ensemble member Mariann Mayberry also appeared in the world premiere of The Pain and the Itch, and was seen on screen this summer in War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg. Ensemble member Amy Morton was last seen at Steppenwolf in Cherry Orchard. She recently finished directing Men of Tortuga as part of the First Look Repertory of New Work in the Garage Theatre, and will direct Love-Lies-Bleeding by Don DeLillo in the Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre this season. John Judd appeared in the original Steppenwolf production of Austin Pendleton's Orson's Shadow and recently reprised his role in the off-Broadway production at the Barrow Street Theatre. Christopher McLinden is a newcomer to the Steppenwolf stage, having previously appeared in Vincent in Brixton at Apple Tree Theatre and in Seagull at Writers' Theatre. Rounding out the cast are students from Columbia College, Northwestern University and Roosevelt University. As a prominent cultural institution in Chicago, Steppenwolf makes an effort to further the artistic experiences of Chicago area students and is pleased to include Scott Patrick Barrons, Morgan Beck, Nicholas John Christiansen, B. Diego Colon, Stephen Louis Grush, Nicholas Horst, Shane Kenyon, Seth Lieber, Brandon Miller, Nathan Paul, Jeffrey Phillips and Dillon Porter as part of the cast of the production. The designers of Last of the Boys are Todd Rosenthal (sets), Ann G. Wrightson (lights), Janice Pytel (costumes) and Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (sound). The stage manager is Laura D. Glenn and Deb Styer is the assistant stage manager. Previews for Last of the Boys are September 15-24, 2005. The production opens Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 6:00 p.m., and runs through November 13, 2005. Curtain times are as follows: Tuesdays through Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday matinees on October 26, November 2 and 9, 2005, at 2:00 p.m. There will be no Sunday evening performances October 30, November 6 and 13, 2005. Tickets are $20-60. Discount available with military or student ID. Fidelity Investments is the Exclusive Production Sponsor of Last of the Boys. There will be free post-show discussions offered daily throughout the run. Last of the Boys is part of city-wide exploration of the Vietnam War. On Veterans' Day, November 11, 2005, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Transportation will unveil the new Vietnam Veteran's Memorial at Wabash Plaza designed by renowned artist and Vietnam veteran Gary Tillery. In the months leading up to the dedication, five Chicago cultural institutions will invite the city to explore the complex history, memory and legacy of the Vietnam War through visual imagery, theater, film and public discussion in a unique, two-month memorial entitled Commit to Memory. Commit to Memory will run from September 6 - November 11, 2005,and, in addition to Steppenwolf Theatre Company, will include programs from Gene Siskel Film Center, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Pritzker Military Library and the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum. Commit to Memory offers a vibrant platform for cross-generational, multi-faceted, democratic dialogue that will honor the experiences of the past and educate the audiences of today. The complete list of events for Commit to Memory is as follows: ---------- The Gene Siskel Film Center will screen the film Winter Soldier, September 16-22, 2005. Nearly unseen for over 30 years, Winter Soldier (1972) is an extraordinary “lost” documentary of the Winter Soldier Investigation conducted by Vietnam Veterans Against the War in Detroit during the winter of 1971. Media Contact: Martin Rubin, Associate Director of Programming, at (312) 846-2075 or ----------- The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago will present two exhibitions, Stages of Memory: The Vietnam War, and Vietnam War Veterans: Portraits and Text, October 13-December 17, 2005. Media Contact: Jessica Jahner, Development and Communications Manager, at (312) 344-7779 or ----------- The Pritzker Military Library's Medal of Honor Series will welcome Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Maj. Wesley L. Fox on Thursday, October 27, 2005 Fox's extraordinary actions are featured in the book Marine Rifleman: Forty-Three Years in the Corps. Media Contact: Ed Tracy, Executive Director, at (312) 587-0234 or ---------- National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum (NVVAM) presents a series of exhibitions and events running September 2 - November 11, 2005 The museum presents artwork created to capture the veterans experience. Artwork created by noted artists as well as veterans themselves will be on display. Media Contact: Jennifer Fortney, Press Representative, at (773) 529-7547 or -------- For more information on each event, please contact the organization's listed representative. Commit to Memory is sponsored in part by Borders Books, Time Out Chicago and The Chicago Department of Transportation. Steppenwolf gratefully acknowledges its 2004-2005 season sponsors: Premier Benefactors-Fidelity Investments, Ogilvy, Sara Lee Foundation, and The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; Grand Benefactors-Boeing, Chase, The Shubert Foundation, Inc., and United; Benefactors-Vinci. Steppenwolf Theatre Company's programs are partially supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency grant and by a CityArts Program 4 grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Committed to the principle of ensemble performance through the collaboration of a company of actors, directors and playwrights, Steppenwolf Theatre Company advances the vitality and diversity of American theater by nurturing artists, encouraging repeatable creative relationships and contributing new works to the national canon. The company, formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, is dedicated to perpetuating an ethic of mutual respect and the development of artists through ongoing group work. Steppenwolf has grown into an internationally renowned company of thirty-five artists whose talents include acting, directing, playwriting, filmmaking and textual adaptation.