About this Show
Thursday, July 6 - Saturday, July 22
Thursdays at 8pm
Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 3:30pm and 8pm
Based on the Writings of Lester Bangs
Performed by Erik Jensen
Directed by Jessica Blank
Produced by ArKtype / Thomas O. Kriegsmann
Gonzo journalist, America’s greatest rock critic and inventor of the word “punk,” legendary music writer Lester Bangs was an American icon. Outsized, manic, fucked-up and impossibly creative, Lester traveled with some of the most iconic musical figures of the 20th century- The Clash, Bob Marley, Lou Reed -peeling away the veneer between “star” and audience and revealing the “greats” as flawed and failing humans. He was at once irreligious and messianic about his hopes for the future, humanity in general, and music in particular. Music could save the world. At least that’s what you tell yourself when you start out. But when the ragged, rebel ethos of the seventies gave way to the corporate pop of the eighties, Lester lost the myth he’d built a life around, and died of a drug overdose in 1982.
This solo play by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen (award-winning writers of The Exonerated and Aftermath) adapts Lester’s own writing to chart the life, work and death of one of the 20th century’s most ground-breaking, risk-taking, pioneering voices.
For the three week engagement each evening show will be followed by legendary Chicago area musicians playing some of Lester Bangs’s personal favorite songs and artists. The lineup includes Bethany Thomas (evening performances 7/6-7/8), the Lester Bangs Memorial Tribute Band with Jim DeRogatis (evening performances 7/13-7/15) and David Singer & The Sweet Science (evening performances 7/20-7/22). The Saturday matinee performances are followed by discussions with Chicago-area music professionals whose lives and trajectories have been wholly altered by the work of Lester Bangs.
Watch & Listen
This show is a part of Steppenwolf's LookOut Series - a new multi-genre performance series, presenting a wide variety of work, coming from a diverse array of voices, artists emerging and established alike.
The 1700 Theatre is general admission, with an assortment of cabaret-style seating options, including high stools and low chairs clustered around tables. We do not reserve seating unless you have a mobile disability. If you have particular seating preferences, we recommend arriving a half hour before show time to reserve the seat of your choice.