When you’re on the registry there’s a lotta rules about where you can and can’t live and if you don’t have anywhere else sometimes you get placed in a group home. That’s how it works.

About This Show

In downstate Illinois, four men convicted of sex crimes against minors share a group home where they live out their lives in the shadow of the crimes they committed. A man shows up to confront his childhood abuser—but does he want closure or retribution? This gripping and provocative new play by Pulitzer Prize-winning ensemble member Bruce Norris zeroes in on the limits of our compassion as it questions what happens when society deems anyone beyond forgiveness.

Known for his darkly comic takes on contemporary issues, Bruce Norris asks to whom we are willing to give compassion: “In the case of this group of people who’ve committed crimes and served their time, we’re not trying to take the easy out and say, ‘These are monsters. We’re done with them. We can dispose of them.’ They are humans, and they are alive. And they’re in a bad situation from the mistakes they’ve made. Now what do we do?’ 

Downstate is a co-commission and co-production with the National Theatre of Great Britain. This exciting collaboration will premiere at Steppenwolf in fall 2018 and transfer to the National Theatre in spring 2019. Under the direction of Tony Award winner Pam MacKinnon, Downstate will feature an American and British cast and creative team.

Watch & Listen

Running Time

2 hours and 25 minutes, which includes one intermission.

Content Advisory

  • Discussions and sometimes graphic descriptions of child abuse and rape
  • Drug use
  • Smoke effects
  • Graphic depiction of self-harm

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.

Cast & Artists

The Artists

Reviews

★★★★ (out of 4) 
“Intellectually rigorous… blisteringly acted… must-see play…one of the more incendiary and thus important productions in the illustrious history of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company” 
Chicago Tribune

NYT Critic’s Pick
 “A great, squirmy moral-thrill-ride of a play by Bruce Norris…in some ways his most serious, successful and difficult work” 
The New York Times

“A masterwork featuring stunning performances…Norris's familiar iconoclasm has been transformed into something brave. An extraordinary production… Downstate is a nervy drama on a subject nobody wants to talk about” 
Chicago Reader

“Gripping and gut-wrenching…this one will haunt audiences long after curtain drop. There is so much socially relevant material packed into this unflinching work” 
The Broadway Blog

Reserve Tickets

Running Time

2 hours and 25 minutes, which includes one intermission.

Content Advisory

  • Discussions and sometimes graphic descriptions of child abuse and rape
  • Drug use
  • Smoke effects
  • Graphic depiction of self-harm

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.

When you’re on the registry there’s a lotta rules about where you can and can’t live and if you don’t have anywhere else sometimes you get placed in a group home. That’s how it works.

Special Performances

Preview performances:
September 20 - September 29

ASL interpretation:
Sunday, October 14 at 7:30pm

Open-captioned:
Thursday, October 11 at 7:30 and Saturday, October 20 at 3pm

Audio-described and touch tour:
Sunday, October 28 touch tour at 1:30, performance at 3pm

Sponsors

Downstate is made possible by a generous grant from The Roy Cockrum Foundation