Steppenwolf Welcomes New Ensemble Members Rajiv Joseph and Karen Rodriguez

Chicago News   Steppenwolf Welcomes New Ensemble Members Rajiv Joseph and Karen Rodriguez
Two-time Obie-winning Describe the Night playwright Joseph and actor Rodriguez join the renowned Chicago theatre.
Rajiv Joseph Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company welcomes playwright Rajiv Joseph and actor Karen Rodriguez to its ensemble, marking the latest additions to the country's largest ensemble company. Steppenwolf is a home to ensemble artists such as Tina Landau, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Martha Plimpton, and more.

Karen Rodriguez
Karen Rodriguez


Joseph's Obie-winning play Guards at the Taj, seen Off-Broadway in 2015, was produced at Steppenwolf this past May; and Chicago-based Rodriguez has performed on the Steppenwolf stage in The Doppelgänger (an international farce) and The Rembrandt. She will also be featured in this season’s world premiere of Isaac Gomez’s La Ruta, in a role written specifically for her.

“Rajiv’s work is extraordinary both for its breadth and its depth, nothing short of a truly dazzling range. He is not only a gifted theatremaker, he is a constructive and inspiring collaborator and truly one of the smartest and kindest people I've ever met,” says Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be invited to be a part of this legendary community of theatre artists,” says Joseph, whose plays include the Obie-winning Describe the Night, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Gruesome Playground Injuries, and Animals Out of Paper. “Steppenwolf’s commitment to adventurous and political art makes them, in my mind, one of the most important theaters in the country and the world. I’m humbled and energized to join their ranks.”

“Karen’s work is always vibrant, original and so, so brave,” adds Shapiro. “A grand comedienne already, a truthful and connected acting partner at all times, Karen embodies everything we value in our company and everything we want to see on our stages. We are deeply grateful to have these two exceptional artists joining our family.”

“I don’t think I have ever felt more alive, electric onstage than at Steppenwolf,” says Rodriguez. “It has been a place where I have been able to explore the depths of humanity and imagine myself in all walks of life, without limit, amongst inspiring artists. So to be able to call this my artistic home...there are no words. I am completely humbled and excited for what’s to come.”

Rodriguez' additional Chicago credits include Breach at Victory Gardens Theater; The Displaced at Haven Theater; The Way She Spoke at Greenhouse Theater Center; Blue Skies Process at Goodman Theatre; and Hookman at Steep Theatre. She is a 2017 recipient of the Make a Wave 3Arts Award.

Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, Steppenwolf’s ensemble company currently includes Joan Allen, Kevin Anderson, Alana Arenas, Randall Arney, Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Robert Breuler, Cliff Chamberlain, Gary Cole, Celeste M. Cooper, Glenn Davis, Kathryn Erbe, Audrey Francis, K. Todd Freeman, Frank Galati, Francis Guinan, Moira Harris, Jon Michael Hill, Tim Hopper, Tom Irwin, Ora Jones, Terry Kinney, Landau, Letts, John Malkovich, Sandra Marquez, McCraney, James Vincent Meredith, Metcalf, Amy Morton, Sally Murphy, Caroline Neff, Bruce Norris, Austin Pendleton, Jeff Perry, William, Petersen, Yasen Peyankov, Martha Plimpton, Rondi Reed, Molly Regan, Shapiro, Eric Simonson, Gary Sinise, Namir Smallwood, Lois Smith, Rick Snyder, Jim True-Frost, and Alan Wilder. Martha Lavey, John Mahoney, and Mariann Mayberry are members in memoriam.

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