Steppenwolf Gives Audiences "First Look" at New Works by Eason, Jacqmin and Simonson

News   Steppenwolf Gives Audiences "First Look" at New Works by Eason, Jacqmin and Simonson
Steppenwolf Theatre Company's fifth annual First Look Repertory of New Work, featuring developmental readings of new plays by Laura Eason, Laura Jacqmin and Eric Simonson, begins July 22 in Chicago.
Eric Simonson, Laura Jacqmin and Laura Eason
Eric Simonson, Laura Jacqmin and Laura Eason Photo by Elizabeth Fraiberg

Featuring "three developmental productions of new plays presented in rotation and accompanied by a series of events around the development of new work," First Look Repertory of New Work runs July 22-Aug. 9 in The Merle Reskin Garage Theatre in Chicago.

All tickets are $20. The First Look Repertory of New Work 2009 productions are:

Written and directed by ensemble member Eric Simonson
July 22–Aug. 9
Featuring Martin McClendon, Katherine Cunningham, Erik Hellman, Lucas Neff and Kelly O'Sullivan

"Guy, author of a best-selling memoir about his downward spiral into drug addiction and homelessness, comes face-to-face with a prying reporter, snooping for a scandal. Their tense showdown over truth versus creative license leads to shocking revelations that could jeopardize both their livelihoods."

Sex with Strangers
By Laura Eason
Directed by associate artist Jessica Thebus
July 23–Aug. 9
Featuring Amy Carle and Stephen Louis Grush

"Ethan Strange is a hot young scenester whose online journal of sexscapades have turned him into the 'it' boy of the blogosphere. Olivia is an attractive 30-something whose own writing career has crapped out. After they hook up, sex turns into dating and dating into something more — but their online exploits threaten to destroy their real-life connection."

Ski Dubai
By Laura Jacqmin
Directed by Lisa Portes
July 24-Aug. 9
Featuring ensemble member James Vincent Meredith with Cliff Chamberlain, Hillary Clemens, Jennifer Coombs, Sadieh Rifai and Rani Waterman

"Rachel, a young Environmental Friendliness Consultant, moves from New York to steamy Dubai to work on a man-made island teeming with skyscrapers and luxury hotels. Trying to uphold her 'green' principles in a hotbed of capitalism, she navigates a stream of quirky displaced internationals battling loneliness and isolation in a flashy, modern pseudo-city." The designers for First Look 2009 are Kevin Depinet (sets), Myron Elliott (costumes), J.R. Lederle (lights) and Joseph Fosco (sound). Jonathan Templeton is the lead stage manager, Jonathan Nook and Lauren Hickman are the stage managers, Kimberly Senior and Ed Sobel are the program directors, and Whitney Dibo is the program assistant.


Laura Eason is the author of more than 15 plays, both original works and adaptations. Previous productions at Steppenwolf include When the Messenger is Hot (also at 59E59, NYC), A Tale of Two Cities and Huck Finn. She is an Affiliated Artist of New Georges and a playwright member of the Women's Project Lab in New York and an Ensemble Member and the former Artistic Director of Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago.

Laura Jacqmin is the winner of the 2008 Wasserstein Prize, a $25,000 award for emerging female playwrights. Her plays have been produced and developed with Ars Nova, 2econd Stage Theatre, Aurora Theatre Company, Victory Gardens Theater and The 24 Hour Plays Off Broadway at the Atlantic Theater. Jacqmin will be the artist-in-residence at the Center on Age and Community in Milwaukee this fall and is an adjunct faculty member at Carthage College.

Eric Simonson, a Steppenwolf ensemble member since 1993, recently completed a documentary on the late Studs Terkel for HBO. He received a Tony nomination for his direction of Steppenwolf's The Song of Jacob Zulu with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and directed an Oscar-nominated documentary about the acclaimed South African singing group. Simonson received an Oscar for Best Documentary Short for his film "A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin" in 2006. Other directing credits at Steppenwolf include Carter's Way (also playwright), Slaughterhouse-Five (also adaptor) and Nomathemba (Hope). His new play Fake will be presented during Steppenwolf's 2009-2010 season.

First Look Repertory of New Work is billed this way: "a developmental process that culminates in performance before an audience, rather than in a staged reading or workshop presentation. Scripts undergo significant revision during the workshop/rehearsal process and may be revised even after being publicly presented during First Look. They are presented with full, if minimal, design support because in Steppenwolf's view, the design process is an integral aspect of play development. The intent is to prime the plays for future production at other theatres across the country."

A First Look Pass to all three plays is available for $45. Tickets are available at or by calling Audience Services at (312) 335-1650.

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