News & Articles

Challenging, Stimulating, and Unique: Steppenwolf's First Look Repertory Program

by Artistic Apprentice Alyson Roux

During the month of August, three new plays will be presented in rotating repertory in the Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, with multiple opportunities for audiences to interact with the playwrights and other artists involved. In the past, Steppenwolf has maintained a dedicated approach to building relationships with playwrights, evident by the number of commissioned works which make their way onto its stages every season. The Steppenwolf play development process has always been a finite one, with the end goal being a fully staged production, a mission which guides many artistic decisions. There are numerous theaters, however, that choose to invest time in play development workshops resulting in staged readings, rather than full productions. This summer, the Steppenwolf community will embark upon First Look Repertory, a unique program which will attempt to combine the new play workshop process with the end goal of a fully staged production. Edward Sobel, Director of New Play Development at Steppenwolf, has been crucial in the creation of the First Look Repertory. He began to formulate the idea when he noticed some intriguing opportunities to provide an even stronger platform to launch new plays at Steppenwolf. He then asked the question, “How can we continue to be innovative in our approach to new play development?” Given that Steppenwolf is a production-oriented theater, it seemed appropriate that some type of program needed to be created that could value both the playwright and the play by allowing a script to be fully staged as part of its development process. At the same time, Sobel adds, “There was some talk in the industry of plays being workshopped to death, and never seeing a full-blown production.” Thus the idea of the First Look was born, combining the methods of workshops, a transparent development process and full productions of plays in repertory. The First Look Repertory program will provide a challenging, stimulating and unique experience for both the artists and audience. When asked about her involvement as a director in the process, ensemble member Amy Morton said, “I think it’s our responsibility at Steppenwolf to nurture playwrights, because without new plays, we just become the theatrical equivalent of Nick at Nite.” Steppenwolf would like to formally thank the members of The First Look Council for their efforts in promoting and supporting this significant endeavor. The three new works which will be performed in repertory during First Look are...

A Blameless Life

by Joel Drake Johnson directed by ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro A married couple waits at the mall for their son to pick them up in their fancy new car. It is a perfect capitalist pastoral: springtime flower pots overflow, Mom munches a bag of peanuts and Dad cradles his new pet goldfish in a bag. But when their son fails to arrive, their lives are changed irrevocably.

The Sparrow Project

by Melanie Marnich directed by Hallie Gordon Sara and Sammie are trust-funded twins living in a dirty NYC studio on a diet of drugs and rice. When Sara brings home Texas tourist Dolly, the twins do everything they can to suck her into their aimless world. But there’s something about Dolly...

Men of Tortuga

by Jason Wells directed by ensemble member Amy Morton In an undisclosed location with their cell phones off, three men scheme with a “weapons specialist” to eliminate a member of the opposition. But how best to do the deed? And more importantly, do their ends justify their means?