Theater Preview: WHAT IS LEFT, BURNS (Steppenwolf)

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by Lamont Williams on November 7, 2020

in Theater-Chicago,Virtual


Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre begins its NOW virtual stage season with What Is Left, Burns, which “opens” for streaming on November 11, 2020. This world premiere play has been recorded with a spectacular production design, including stunning video and photography by Lowell Thomas and Joel Moorman and an original soundtrack composed by Justin Ellington.

Steppenwolf ensemble members K. Todd Freeman and Jon Michael Hill.
Photo by Lowell Thomas

Two poets separated by age and distance engage in a video call rendezvous after fifteen years. Keith, a distinguished poet and professor of literature is moving towards retirement after a recent divorce from his wife. Ronnie, his younger former lover and mentee, has a New York Times bestselling book and a burgeoning career ahead of him. The two men wade through the connection they once had as they struggle with the desires that still bind them.

Steppenwolf ensemble members K. Todd Freeman and Jon Michael Hill.
Photo by Lowell Thomas

What is Left, Burns

Written by James Ijames
Directed by Whitney White
Featuring ensemble members K. Todd Freeman and Jon Michael Hill
Streaming begins November 11, 2020
Run time: 20 minutes

Steppenwolf NOW” Virtual Stage Lineup

Productions will be released throughout the year and members are able to stream all Steppenwolf NOW content through August 31, 2021.

Wally World

By Isaac Gómez
Co-directed by Isaac Gómez and Lili-Anne Brown
Featuring ensemble members Cliff Chamberlain, Audrey Francis, Sandra Marquez and Karen Rodriguez with Danny Bernardo, Sydney Charles, Kevin Curtis, Leslie Sophia Perez, Marvin Quijada and Jacqueline Williams
Streaming December 2020
Run time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

It’s Christmas Eve and a group of Wally World employees are about to lose it. On the one day of the year the mega-department superstore is supposed to close its doors, secrets come to life that may destroy more than their holiday cheer. Their manager Andy is doing everything in her power to keep her store in line and her employees in check. But can hard truths from her past ruin everything she’s ever worked for? Wally World is a festive, poignant examination of finding magic in the mundane as ten employees do everything, they can to find purpose in a place that has never seen purpose in them.

Red Folder

Written and directed by ensemble member Rajiv Joseph
Featuring ensemble member Carrie Coon
Streaming January 2021
Run time: 10 minutes

The red folder belongs to a first grader. It is the source of all his woes. Years later, he seeks vengeance.

Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!

By Vivian J.O. Barnes
Streaming February 2021
Run time: 35 minutes

A Royal Wedding is looming. The Duchess and The Soon-to-be-Duchess are meeting face to face for the first time to go over everything you ever needed to know to become a duchess. There are rules. There’s a way of doing things. Remember, everybody is watching. And you don’t want to know what happens if you step out of line. Duchess! Duchess! Duchess! looks at the hidden costs of being the “luckiest girl in the world.”

Where We Stand

By Donnetta Lavinia Grays
Directed by Tamilla Woodard
Featuring Donnetta Lavinia Grays
Streaming April 2021
Run time: 70 minutes

What does community mean? And what do we owe to one another? When a man who has been shunned by his town makes a deal on behalf of it with a mysterious stranger, he must stand before his community to ask for forgiveness in hopes that they might answer these enduring questions as they determine his fate. Through poetic verse and music, this work challenges our capacity to forgive and our ideas of mercy and who might deserve it.

Ages of the Moon

By Sam Shepard
Directed by ensemble member Ian Barford
Featuring ensemble members Randall Arney and William Petersen
Streaming June 2021
Run time: 55 minutes

Byron and Ames are old friends, reunited by mutual desperation on a hot summer day. As day turns into night and the bourbon keeps flowing, they sit, reflect and bicker about fifty years of love, friendship and their rivalry.

Executive Director E. Brooke Flanagan shares, “This moment reinforces that old adage that out of limitation comes creativity. This moment of disruption for our industry has led Steppenwolf’s artistic and education teams to break the mold of theatrical form and evolve the ways in which we are connecting with audiences and serving students. In the months ahead, we will offer a stunning radio play production of George Orwell’s Animal Farm to schools worldwide, while our series of six brilliantly creative virtual plays will connect our with audiences in Chicago—and beyond. This expansion of service through artistic excellence will continue when we open our expanded campus, still under construction through this time of forced closure, featuring a new state-of-the-art theater in the round and education loft.”

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