Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis, both members of the ensemble, will be the first duo to lead the company in its history.
Steppenwolf Theater Company, a Chicago ensemble with a background in creating critically acclaimed works that land on Broadway, announced his new artistic direction on Thursday, and for the first time in the decades of the company hisroof, it means two people, not one.
Members of the ensemble Glenn Davis, who is best known in New York City for playing in "Bengal Tiger at Baghdad Zoo alongside Robin Williams on Broadway, and Audrey Francis, who co-founded an interim Chicago conservatory, will both serve as artistic director, the company said. Davis, who is black, is the first person of color in the company's history to play the role.
In an unusual process for a theater, the ensemble voted to nominate Davis and Francis in an election, after the couple presented themselves as a team.
The new structure direction comes at a time of transition for Steppenwolf: in the fall, heplans to open a new $ 54 million addition to the company's headquarters in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, which will include a 400-seat circular theater and an education floor. The debut will coincide with the company's return to performing arts - with Tracy Letts "Bug " in November - after a 20-month pandemic shutdown.
"The whole has always been the heart and soul of Steppenwolf," Davis said in a statement accompanying the announcement. passions. "
Current artistic director Anna D Shapiro, who has directed the ensemble since 2015, announced in May that she would resign at the end of August, which coincides with the end of his second three-year contract. Shapiro's resignation came shortly after two people of color who have worked with the theater shared grievances about the institution which were released. on the site Web Reed .
Lowell Thomas, a video producer at Steppenwolf, re signed in April, accusing the company of burying " allegations of harassment, racism and sexism to avoid accountability and real change ”. And Isaac Gomez, a playwright who has worked with the theater, said he was considering removing one of his plays from the company's lineup due to Thomas' departure.
At the time of his resignation, Shapiro told the Chicago Tribune that the timing of his announcement was unrelated to the published accounts, in saying, "There is not a theater in this country worthy of the name that is notaddress these issues of systemic racism and try to look at its culture. "
In a statement on the new leadership, Eric Lefkofsky, Chairman of the Board of Steppenwolf of the Trustees, said Davis and Francis' different backgrounds would lead to a "more complete worldview in decision-making.
Steppenwolf, which employs a total of 49 people and runs programs for teens and educators, has a habit of producing work that attracts national recognition and gets carried to New York stages.
In 2007, Shapiro conducted the premiere of Letts' play " August: Osage County. Letts, who is a member of the Steppenwolf ensemble, also debuts in arecent piece, "The Minutes, at the Chicago Theater; the show's Broadway run was cut short by the pandemic. And the second Broadway show to reopen this summer, " Pass Over ", a play about two black men trapped in existential terror, premiered at Steppenwolf, and two of the entire company will appear on the Broadway version.
Davis, actor and producer, joined the ensemble in 2017, appearing in plays like " Downstate "and Tarell Alvin McCraney 's " The Brother / Sister Plays. In February, he will play in “ King James, a Rajiv Joseph play on LeBron James that was scheduled debuted in June 2020, then was delayed.
Francis, who also joined the 'together in 2017 after attending his acting residency in 2004, starred in 10 productions with the company, including " You Got Older and Rory Kinnear 's “ The Herd. ” Francis co-founded the Black Box Conservatory Acting and working as a coach for
In a statement, Francis said that one of their goals as leaders will be to "re-examine how we support artists on and off the stage. "
" We are inspired by the changes we are seeing in our industry ", a-t- she stated, "and aim to redefine the way artists are valued in America.