CHICAGO (May 19, 2021)Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the nation's premier ensemble theater company, is excited to announce initial programming details for The Loft, its first-ever dedicated education space that encompasses the entire fourth floor of Steppenwolf's trailblazing new Arts and Education Center, designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.
Kicking off with a virtual Loft program series this summer and opening to students and educators in the fall, The Loft will inspire the next generation of theater learners and makers, growing the reach of Steppenwolf's education programming from 20,000 to 30,000 students annually.
The Loft includes three dedicated learning spaces for young adults and will feature an expanded range of in-person and digital programming for students and community, as well as showcasing artwork created by Chicagoland youth selected through the Loft Teen Arts Projecta visual art competition for young artists 1422 years of age that commissions original works for the new education floor. The competition is juried by a panel of acclaimed artists including Nick Cave, Liz Flores, Silvia I. Gonzalez and Santiago X. Submissions are open now through July 1, 2021, with more information at www.steppenwolf.org/LTAP.
"For more than 30 years of its 46-year history, Steppenwolf has created world-class programming on and offstage for teens. We have hosted hundreds of classes, workshops and events each season for teens and educators across Chicagoland, and we've partnered with incredible youth arts organizations across the city, working together to amplify youth voices in every area of the theater. Yet we've never had a space of our own until now. The Loft is more than a series of classrooms, studios and reflection galleries: it signifies Steppenwolf's enduring commitment to education and to being the Chicago destination for teens to come and learn about what the arts have to offer," shares Director of Education Megan Shuchman.
As part of Steppenwolf Education's ongoing efforts to center and amplify youth voices across its programs, a new Loft Opening Committee (LOC) of Chicagoland youth will dream up, develop, and facilitate a series of events this summer and fall to generate community excitement in the lead-up to the opening of The Loft, including leading efforts for The Virtual Loft Series. LOC members are comprised of current and former members of Steppenwolf's Young Adult Council, the theater's award-winning after school program, as well as students who participate in programming at Steppenwolf Education's youth-centric partner organizations throughout Chicago. LOC members will receive facilitator training and serve as community ambassadors and partners in promoting the opening of The Loft and related educational programs. For a list of LOC members, please visit www.steppenwolf.org/loft.
"Working with Steppenwolf on its new Arts and Education Center has been a special experiencetheir clear intention of accessibility for all has transformed the space. It's rare to find a group of people like the leaders of Steppenwolf who are so deeply involved in not just the program and function of a building, but the emotional life and equity of a building. One of my proudest moments in the design is that arguably, the most primary space of the building, The Loft, is given to the students, which speaks volumes to this company, its ideals and its future," shares lead architect Gordon Gill, founding partner of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.
Along with the expanded education programs at The Loft, Steppenwolf continues its acclaimed Steppenwolf for Young Adults production series during the 2021/22 Season. This fall, The Red Folder Project provides a unique opportunity for teens to create their own works of art as they engage with the Red Folder animated play written, directed and illustrated by ensemble member Rajiv Joseph and featuring ensemble member Carrie Coon. Then in February 2022, the world premiere adaptation of Eve L. Ewing's 1919, adapted by J. Nicole Brooks and directed by Gabrielle Randle-Bent, opens Steppenwolf's new Round Theater at the Arts and Education Center.
More information on all Steppenwolf Education programs, including Steppenwolf for Young Adults and the Loft Teen Arts Project, can be found at www.steppenwolf.org/education.
THE VIRTUAL LOFT SERIES
This summer, Steppenwolf Education will collaborate with Chicagoland youth in its Loft Opening Committee to host The Virtual Loft Seriesa new series of free, intergenerational, virtual events introducing the public to the expanded menu of programming that will be offered at The Loft. Part maker workshop, part conversation series with exciting local artists and educators, part community kickback, virtual events will be held on Thursdays, June 24, July 22 and August 19 from 6-7:30 p.m. More details at www.steppenwolf.org/loft.
THE LOFT TEEN ARTS PROJECT
A Visual Arts Commission for Chicago Youth
Chicagoland youth groups and individuals are invited to create an original piece of artwork for Steppenwolf Theatre's new dedicated education center, The Loft. The theme for artwork is "The Future I See: Creating for Community." Youth submissions are now open and will be accepted until July 1, 2021.
This juried competition welcomes visual artists in all mediums (mural, photography, sculpture, graphic design, printmaking, collage, graffiti, etc.) between 1422 years of age to submit their work for an opportunity to be exhibited in The Loft. Selected by a jury of celebrated local artists, creatives and curators in collaboration with Chicago youth and Steppenwolf Education staff, the winning entries will be displayed for one year in The Loft, receive a $1,500 cash prize ($2,500 for group submissions) and receive a stipend for supplies and materials.
Jury panelists for the Loft Teen Arts Project include Nick Cave, Liz Flores, Silvia I. Gonzalez and Santiago X. For more information, visit www.steppenwolf.org/LTAP.
STEPPENWOLF FOR YOUNG ADULTS 2021/22 SEASON
How will we move forward when we have yet to confront our past? In these two productions curated for a teen audience, Steppenwolf for Young Adults examines what it means to take ownership over our personal and systemic traumas, and how the arts can help us discover our future selves.
THE RED FOLDER PROJECT
Inspired by Red Folder
An illustrated play written, directed and illustrated by ensemble member Rajiv Joseph
Featuring ensemble member Carrie Coon
Curated by Education staff members Jared Bellot and Abhi Shrestha and teens Miles C., Kristen D., Joelle R. and Naysa S.
In Rajiv Joseph's Red Folder, a first grader's elementary school folder is just a folder, until it isn't. In this short virtual play, a child's world is turned upside down when he starts to believe his self-worth should be measured by which side of his school folder, left or right, his work belongs in.
Inspired by this exceptional piece of storytelling, The Red Folder Project offers an opportunity to peek inside the artistic process for a unique educational experience exploring not only how art gets made, but why. Developed by a team of youth curators working in collaboration with the Steppenwolf Education team, The Red Folder Project will feature a suite of digital programming allowing high school students the chance to engage with the work of art in their classrooms and create their own works of art alongside playwright and Steppenwolf ensemble member Rajiv Joseph and other artists at the center of the Red Folder illustrated play. Inspired by the rigorous and messy work that happens as a part of Steppenwolf's In School Residency programs, The Red Folder Project will encourage self-reflection, conversation, and artmaking as students ask: "Who am I?" "What do I want?" "What am I creating?" and "What do I need?"
By Eve L. Ewing
Adapted by J. Nicole Brooks
Directed by Gabrielle Randle-Bent
In the NEW Round Theater
Weekday performances for students; limited weekend performances open to public
After nearly two years in quarantine, Steppenwolf will feature its first live production for teens with an incredible world premiere adaptation of Eve L. Ewing's 1919, which tells the story of the killing of seventeen-year-old Eugene Williams in treacherous waters off the segregated 1919 Lake Michigan shoreline. The next eight days and their aftermath constitute an under-told episode of the city's history. Adapted from Ewing's poems, J. Nicole Brooks's play is a bold, lyrical exploration of Black Chicagoans' resistance, fortitude, and endurance: past, present, and future.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a Chicago theater that is home to America's ensemble. The company began performing in the mid-1970s in the basement of a Highland Park, IL churchtoday Steppenwolf is the nation's premier ensemble theater with more than 50 members who are among the top actors, playwrights and directors in the field. Deeply rooted in its ensemble ethos, the company is committed to equity, diversity, inclusion and making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to all. Groundbreaking productions from Balm in Gilead and August: Osage County to Downstate and Pass Overand accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony® Awardshave made the theatre legendary. Artistic programming includes a main stage season, a Steppenwolf for Young Adults season, LookOut, a multi-genre performance series and Steppenwolf NOW, a new virtual programming stream. The nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf Education engages more than 20,000 participants annually in Chicagoland communities promoting compassion, encouraging curiosity and inspiring action. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, more than 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and E. Brooke Flanagan is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf's Board of Trustees.
Steppenwolf's Mission: Steppenwolf strives to create thrilling, courageous and provocative art in a thoughtful and inclusive environment. We succeed when we disrupt your routine with experiences that spark curiosity, empathy and joy. We invite you to join our ensemble as we navigate, together, our complex world. steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr .