Steppenwolf presents a play about the Herero of Namibia

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CAST MEMBERS FOR “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation...,” pictured in top row: Terry Bell, Jennifer Latimore and Will Allan.  Bottom row: (l-r) Taylor Blim, Michael Holding and Jeffrey Owen Freelon Jr. 

Rehearsals are underway for Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ (SYA) second play of the 2018-19 season, titled “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915,” which asks, “When you feel lost, how do you find your way?

The play deals with the first genocide of the 20th Century and is co-directed by Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ Artistic Director Hallie Gordon and Gabrielle Randle.

There is more to history than what’s in the books. “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation…” tells the story of what happens when a group of actors explore the long-forgotten––or possibly never remembered––history of German colonization of Namibia and its devastating effects. This gut-wrenching, intelligent, often funny––until it’s not––play asks us, what happens when we only have one side of the story.

“SYA is dedicated to creating work that is both provocative and drives us to think harder and deeper about who we are and the choices we make. We are so excited to be producing “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation…,” a powerful story that explores themes of race, representation, storytelling and the power group-thinking can have on an individual. Our season theme is “When you feel lost, how do you find your way?” – a question that every character in this play must ask themselves. SYA hasn’t yet produced a play structured like this one, and we are thrilled that we have the opportunity to share it with our audiences,” shares co-director Hallie Gordon.

The play will include a tour to six Chicago neighborhoods in partnership with Steppenwolf Education City Connections partners, BUILD, Inc., the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Public Library. Each stop on the tour is open to the public and will include a community workshop, a performance of the play and a post-show discussion.

“We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915” will run from February 27 through March 23, 2019.

Public performances at Steppenwolf for “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation…,” which is based on a book by Jackie Sibblies Drury, will take place March 2 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; March 8 at 7:30 p.m.; March 9 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; March 15 at 7:30 p.m.; and March 16 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St. Single tickets to public performances ($15-20) are on sale now through Audience Services at Steppenwolf.org. Weekday performances are reserved for school groups only; more than 15,000 Chicago Public School students will see SYA productions each year. Recommended for ages 14+. More info at steppenwolf.org/education.

PLAYWRIGHT JACKIE SIBBLIES Drury. According to the “Journal of the International Institute,” in the summer of 2004, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, spoke to Ovaherero leaders at the Waterberg during the commemoration of the 1904 war and acknowledged “the violence inflicted by the German colonial powers on your ancestors, particularly the Herero and the Nama” and “the atrocities committed.” Wieczorek-Zeul also admitted that “following the uprisings, the surviving Herero, Nama and Damara were interned in camps and put to forced labour of such brutality that many did not survive.” More ambiguously, the German Minister concluded that “the atrocities committed at that time would today be termed genocide.” For more info: https://amp.theguardian.com/
world/2004/aug/16/germany.andrewmeldru.

Tour Information:

At each stop on this week-long tour, the City Connections partner will host Steppenwolf Education teaching artists as they present a community workshop, a performance of the play and a post-show discussion. All workshops and performances are free and open to the public.

The tour schedule is as follows:

Mandrake Park Fieldhouse Chicago Park District: 3858 S. Cottage Grove Ave., Monday, March 18: 4:30 p.m. workshop; 6:00 p.m. performance.

Tuley Cultural Center/Fieldhouse Chicago Park District: 501 E. 90th Place, Tuesday, March 19: 5:00 p.m. workshop; 6:30 p.m. performance.

South Chicago Branch Chicago Public Library: 9055 S. Houston Ave., Wednesday, March 20: 4:30 workshop; 6:30 p.m. performance.

Albany Park Branch Chicago Public Library: 3401 W. Foster Ave., Thursday, March 21: 4:30 p.m. workshop; 6:00 p.m. performance.

Austin Town Hall Cultural Center/Fieldhouse Chicago Park District: 5610 W. Lake St., Friday, March 22: 5:00 p.m. workshop; 6:30 p.m. performance.

Hamilton Park Cultural Center/Fieldhouse Chicago Park District: 513 W. 72nd St., Saturday, March 23: 1:00 p.m. workshop; 2:30 p.m. performance.

Relaxed/Sensory-Friendly Performances:

Steppenwolf is pleased to present a Relaxed/Sensory-Friendly performance for “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation…” on Saturday, March 16 at 1:00 p.m. Lobby and 3:00 p.m. curtain. Relaxed/Sensory-Friendly performances feature a relaxed performance environment and minor adjustments to sensory effects such as lighting and sound cues. House lights will be left up at a low level, and it’s okay for audience members to make noise, move, and leave the theater. Social narratives and character guides will be shared in advance of guests’ visits, and a quiet area will be designated in a section of the lobby. For more information, please email access@steppenwolf.org.

Year of Chicago Theatre:

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is proud to be part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, presented by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres. To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. Home to a community of creators, risk-takers, and big hearts, Chicago theatre is a hotbed for exciting new work and hundreds of world premieres every year. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there’s always a seat waiting for you at one of our 200+ theatres.

For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. She is also the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago.”

 

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