Simon Stephens’ Birdland explores a life lived without boundaries
By Simon Stephens
Directed by Jonathan Berry
April 5 – May 12, 2018
When you can have whatever you want, whenever you want it, what do you ask for next? When you’ve pushed every boundary until there’s nothing left to hold you in, how do you find your way back home? Birdland is a sexy, searing exploration of empathy and the impact of unchecked privilege by Olivier and Tony Award winner Simon Stephens.
Jonathan Berry returns this spring to Steep to direct the U.S. premiere of Simon Stephens’ Birdland. Stephens, who won the Tony and Olivier Awards for his The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is Steep’s Associate Playwright, and Birdland will be the fifth of his plays to be produced by the Edgewater ensemble. Steep Ensemble Member and Jeff Award-winning director Jonathan Berry recently directed Steppenwolf Theatre’s You Got Older and The Crucible. Over the years, he has consistently produced some of Steep’s most notable shows, including last year’s sweeping epic Earthquakes in London and Laura Wade’s Posh, which won the Non-Equity Jeff Award for Best Ensemble, and was nominated for Best Director and Best Production.
Birdland will feature Dushane Casteallo, Aila Peck, Amber Sallis, and Steep Company Members Lucy Carapetyan, Cindy Marker, Peter Moore, Jim Poole, and Joel Reitsma. Amber Sallis is an understudy on Hinter and was last seen on Steep’s stage in Earthquakes in London. Birdland will mark the Steep Theatre debuts for Dushane Casteallo and Aila Peck.
About the Playwright
Simon Stephens is an English playwright whose plays have been widely produced in the UK, Europe, Australia, and the US. Stephens is an Artistic Associate at the Lyric Hammersmith and has been an Associate Playwright of Steep Theatre since 2013. In addition to his Olivier and Tony Award for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Stephens has received the 2001 Pearson Award for Best Play for Port; the 2005 Olivier Award for Best New Play for On the Shore of the Wide World; Theater Heute’s Award for Motortown in 2007, Pornography in 2008 and Wastwater in 2011; and the 2009 Manchester Evening News Award for Best Production for Punk Rock. His play Heisenberg premiered in New York in 2015, opened on Broadway in 2016, and is currently enjoying productions all over the globe. Stephens visited Steep in 2012 and 2016, during which he performed public readings of his works Sea Wall and Song from Faraway, and Steep presented the first ever public reading of his play Blindsided, a new work commissioned by the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, England.
Stephens’ other works include Bluebird, Herons, One Minute, Country Music, Harper Regan, I am the Wind, Three Kingdoms, Morning, a new version of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Carmen Disruption, The Funfair, a new version of Ödön von Horváth’s Kasimir and Karoline, his version of Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, Nuclear War, Fatherland, his English language version of Obsession, and his new adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull.
About the Director
Steep Ensemble Member Jonathan Berry is a director and teacher in Chicago and is an Artistic Producer at Steppenwolf Theatre. His Steep productions include Mike Bartlett’s Earthquakes in London, Laura Wade’s Posh, Ross Dungan’s The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle, Nick Payne’s If There Is I Haven’t Found it Yet, John Donnelly’s The Knowledge, David Eldridge’s Festen, Deirdre Kinahan’s Moment, Howard Korder’s The Hollow Lands and Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. For Steppenwolf, he directed Clare Barron’s You Got Older, Nick Payne’s Constellations, the SYA productions of The Crucible and A Separate Peace, the world premiere of Melinda Lopez’s Gary, and the staged reading of Suicide, Incorporated, which he later directed at The Gift Theatre. He was also the Assistant Director for Anna D Shapiro’s Broadway productions of Of Mice and Men and This is Our Youth. Jonathan is also an Artistic Associate with Griffin Theatre, where his productions include Samuel D. Hunter’s Pocatello, Odets’ Golden Boy, Miller/Tysen’s The Burnt Part Boys, Sheik/Sater’s Spring Awakening, the North American premieres of Simon Stephens’ Punk Rock (Jeff Award Director, Lead Actor, and Ensemble) Port, and On the Shore of the Wide World, Stephen Sondheim’s Company, William Inge’s Picnic, JB Priestely’s Time and the Conways, Sidney Kingsley’s Dead End, Brendan Behan’s The Hostage and R.C. Sheriff’s Journey’s End. At the Gift Theatre, he has directed the world premieres of both Dirty and Suicide, Incorporated by Andrew Hinderaker, as well as Will Nedved’s 6. His Goodman Theatre productions include The Solid Sand Below and The World of Extreme Happiness for their New Stages Festival. His other work includes Redtwist’s Look Back in Anger and Reverb; Chicago Dramatists’ I am Going to Change the World; Jackalope Theatre’s The Casuals; Strawdog’s Conversations on a Homecoming, Remy Bumppo’s The Marriage of Figaro; Theatre Mir’s Bond’s The Sea and Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle, and Lifeline Theater’s The Piano Tuner (Afterdark award – Best Production).
About Steep Theatre
Housed in what was once a small grocery store steps from the Berwyn Red Line stop, and lead by an ensemble of 34 actors, directors, designers, writers, and other theatre artists, Steep is the quintessential storefront theatre. Described by Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune as “a storefront theater known for the power of its acting,” Steep creates powerful productions of plays by today’s most exciting writers and features the work of Chicago’s hottest theatre artists in an intimate, accessible space. Currently in its 17th season, Steep is known as a home for hard-hitting, finely tuned ensemble work. With each production, the company has shepherded a growing community of audiences and artists into bold new territories of story and performance.
Steep Theatre is conveniently located by the Berwyn Red Line stop and is within blocks of the #92, #36, #146, #147, and #151 buses.
1115 West Berwyn Ave., Chicago, IL 60640
April 5 – May 12, 2018
Press Opening: Thursday, April 5 at 8:00pm
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8pm
Sunday matinees at 3pm on April 15, 22, and 29, and May 6
-Audio Description: Saturday, April 21 at 8:00pm
-Open Captioning: Sunday, May 6 at 3:00pm
General Admission Tickets: $27
Reserved Seat Tickets: $38
Access Tickets: $10 (Steep’s universal discount for students, artists, whomever)
Cast photos and bios are available at steeptheatre.com/birdland.
Director – Jonathan Berry*
Stage Manager – Jon Ravenscroft
Set Designer – Joe Schermoly
Lighting Designer – Brandon Wardell**
Sound Designer & Composer – Thomas Dixon**
Costume Designer – Emily McConnell**
Dialect Coach – Kathy Logelin
Production Manager – Catherine Allen
Assistant Director – Leah Raidt
*Denotes Steep Company Member
**Denotes Steep Artistic Associate