Steppenwolf Theatre Welcomes Six New Members Into Its Ensemble

News   Steppenwolf Theatre Welcomes Six New Members Into Its Ensemble
Chicago's celebrated Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced six new ensemble members on Jan. 29.

The Steppenwolf ensemble, the longest-existing theatre ensemble in the United States, now totals 41 members with the addition of newcomers Alana Arenas, Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Jon Hill, Ora Jones and James Vincent Meredith.

"The greatest honor with which I am entrusted is that of naming new members to the Steppenwolf ensemble," stated Steppenwolf artistic director Martha Lavey. "I do so with the counsel of our founders, Gary Sinise, Jeffrey Perry and Terry Kinney and with the ensemble associate artists. Together, we have taken this moment to add a group of artists for whom we have great esteem, based on our work together. These six new members increase the range of Steppenwolf's artistic core, representing a variety of age, experience, and casting possibilities but united in their improvisational and ensemble acting sensibility.

"When I joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in 1993, I was, like today's newest members, among a group of six new members. As Gary has described to me, the decision to add a new slate of members in 1993 was borne out of awareness that our new theatre at 1650 North Halsted required a larger artistic core to occupy the larger stage of our work. Today, Steppenwolf's programming encompasses our five-play subscription series, programming in our Upstairs and Garage theatres, our Steppenwolf for Young Adults series, an increased range of programming in our Traffic series, and the proliferation of our touring opportunities. These six new members allow us to occupy the amplified range of our work with ensemble participation.

"My great thrill, as an artistic director, is to present these artists as the newest members of the Steppenwolf family. My great thrill as an actor will be to occupy the stage with each of them. I hope you will join me and the entire Steppenwolf ensemble, in welcoming them to their new artistic home."

The new ensemble members' biographical notes follow.

  • Alana Arenas created the role of Pecola Breedlove for the Steppenwolf Young Adults production of The Bluest Eye, which also played at the New Victory Theater Off-Broadway. She was also seen at Steppenwolf in Spare Change and The Sparrow Project, both for First Look Repertory of New Work. Other credits include Janie in Eyes, The Way We Were, WVON, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Love's Labour's Lost, SOST, Notes from the Bottletree and Final Angel. She is originally from Miami where she began her training at the New World School of the Arts. She holds a BFA from the Theatre School at DePaul.
  • Kate Arrington has appeared at Steppenwolf in The Well-Appointed Room, The Pain and the Itch and The Violet Hour. New York Theatre credits include work at Lincoln Center Theater, Classic Stage Company, Soho Repertory, The Mint Theatre, HERE and many works with Eyases Ensemble. Regional theatre credits include King Lear at the Goodman, as well as work at South Coast Repertory, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Maine State Shakespeare Theatre, Oldcastle Theatre and North Carolina Theatre. Her film credits include "The King of Irontown" and "Gunfighter Ballads."
  • Ian Barford began his association with Steppenwolf in 1988 as an intern from Illinois State University. Since then he has appeared in Betrayal, Love Song, Lost Land, Three Days of Rain, Berlin Circle, The Libertine, As I Lay Dying, Time of My Life and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, which also played briefly on Broadway and for which he received an Outer Critics Circle award nomination. In 1996 he received a National Theatre Conference/Steppenwolf theatre award for promising artists. Other Chicago credits include All the Rage and Design for Living at Goodman, Mad Forest at Remains, and Othello at Chicago Shakespeare. In Los Angeles he appeared in The Weir, God's Man in Texas, and Take Me Out all under the artistic direction of ensemble member Randall Arney. Also in L.A. he appeared in Dead End at the Ahmanson. Television credits include "Medium," "Numbers," "Without a Trace," "Zoey 101," "Turks," "Jake in Progress," "Strong Medicine." Film cedits include "13 Going on 30," "Road to Perdition," "Tick-Tock."
  • Jon Hill has appeared at Steppenwolf in The Unmentionables. He is currently in his senior year at the University of Illinois in the acting program, where he has been seen in King Lear, Brecht on Brecht, Six Degrees of Separation, A Flea in Her Ear and Ain't Misbehavin'.
  • Ora Jones has appeared at Steppenwolf in The Unmentionables, The Violet Hour (Jeff nomination) and Morning Star. She currently appears in the About Face Theatre production of Execution of Justice. She received an After Dark award for her role of Stage Manager in Our Town for Writers' Theatre. Jones has performed at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in A Flea in Her Ear, Goodman Theatre in Seeking the Genesis (Black Theater Alliance Award), Court and Rivendell Theaters, Victory Gardens and sailed on the maiden voyage of Chicago Children's Theatre with A Year With Frog and Toad.
  • James Vincent Meredith has appeared at Steppenwolf in The Bluest Eye (also Off-Broadway at the New Victory Theater), The Pain and the Itch, and in the About Face Theatre production of Take Me Out. He is also an ensemble member at Piven Theater Workshop where he appeared in King Lear, American Voices and Our Country's Good. He is currently appearing in The King and I at Drury Lane Oakbrook. Other Chicago credits include Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure, King John, Julius Caesar, the NEA national tour and Short Shakespeare production of Romeo and Juliet (Chicago Shakespeare); A Raisin in the Sun (the Goodman); The Duchess of Malfi (Writers' Theatre); Othello, "Master Harold"...and the boys (Journeymen Theatre); East Texas Hot Links, Doo Lister's Blues (Onyx Theatre); and Flyin' West (Illinois Theatre Center). Regional credits include Othello (Michigan Shakespeare Festival) and The Hobbit (First Stage, Milwaukee, WI). The Steppenwolf ensemble includes Joan Allen, Kevin Anderson, Alana Arenas, Randall Arney, Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Robert Breuler, Gary Cole, Kathryn Erbe, K. Todd Freeman, Frank Galati , Francis Guinan, Moira Harris Jon Hill, Tim Hopper, Tom Irwin, Ora Jones, Terry Kinney, Tina Landau, Martha Lavey, Tracy Letts, John Mahoney, John Malkovich, Mariann Mayberry, James Vincent Meredith, Laurie Metcalf, Amy Morton, Sally Murphy, Austin Pendleton, Jeff Perry, Yasen Peyankov, Martha Plimpton, Rondi Reed, Molly Regan, Anna D. Shapiro, Eric Simonson, Gary Sinise, Lois Smith, Rick Snyder, Jim True, Alan Wilder.

    "Committed to the principle of ensemble performance through the collaboration of a company of actors, directors and playwrights, Steppenwolf Theatre Company's mission is to advance the vitality and diversity of American theatre by nurturing artists, encouraging repeatable creative relationships and contributing new works to the national canon."

    The company, formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, "is dedicated to perpetuating an ethic of mutual respect and the development of artists through on-going group work."

    Steppenwolf has grown into an internationally renowned company of 41 artists whose talents include acting, directing, playwriting, filmmaking and textual adaptation.

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