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Steppenwolf presents the world premiere of “Pass Over”  

The “Pass Over” by Antoinette Nwandu and directed by Danya Taymor is being presented by Steppenwolf Theatre Company from June 1- July 9, 2017 at the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. in Chicago. It is a provocative and hilarious riff on “Waiting for Godot.” This play will engage the audience not only with the performance but also with panel discussions after each Sunday performance. The complete cast features ensemble member Jon Michael Hill (Moses), Julian Parker (Kitch) and Ryan Hallahan (Mister).

Moses and Kitch stand around on the corner—talking s**t, passing the time and hoping that maybe today will be different. As they dream of their promised land, a stranger wanders into their space with his own agenda and derails their plans. Emotional and lyrical, “Pass Over” crafts everyday profanities into poetic and humorous riffs, exposing the unquestionable human spirit of young men stuck in a cycle just looking for a way out.

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ENSEMBLE MEMBERS Jon Michael Hill (Moses) and Julian Parker (Kitch), pictured left to right, in rehearsal for Steppenwolf’s world premiere production of “Pass Over,” written by Antoinette Nwandu and directed by Danya Taymor. Pass Over runs June 1 – July 9, 2017 in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St.

Inspired in part by the young Black men Antoinette Nwandu encountered as a community college teacher, the play crafts profane language into poetic riffs, revealing to the audience the unquestionable human spirit of these young men.

“At its core, this play asks us collectively to consider the value of Black lives, specifically the lives of young Black men who are not extraordinary, who are not entertainers, they’re not athletes, they’re not secret math geniuses. They’re young men who might never get better, who might never be different. This play challenges us to envision a society that does not ask these young men to prove their worth,” shares playwright Antoinette Nwandu.

Post-Show Panel Series

Following every Sunday performance, audiences are invited to experience robust conversations about the world of the play with scholars, artists, journalists, activists and community members moderated by Erick Deshaun Dorris.

June 4: Join Artistic Producer  Aaron Carter to get the behind-the-scenes story on “Pass Over’s” genesis and life at Steppenwolf.

June 18: Meet ensemble members Jon Michael Hill, Julian Parker and Ryan Hallahan of “Pass Over” and learn about their work on the play and what they hope audiences take away.

June 25: Experts from the DuSable Museum of African American History will lead a panel discussion about the history of Black people in America attempting to “pass over” and the cyclical nature of this history.

July 2: Activists, scholars and educators Natalie Moore and Jahmal Cole will unfold the connection between “Pass Over” and their understanding of a Chicago in crisis.

July 9: Artists Eve Ewing and Anna Martine Whitehead will discuss “Pass Over” as a theatrical tool to assert the value of Black lives, as well as reflecting on the Black experience in the arts community.

Networking Night – June 14

Steppenwolf invites audiences to attend a Networking Night, June 14th, 2017 hosted by Corporate Black/African-American Affinity Groups at the theater. The night includes a pre-show networking reception and artistic discussion followed by a performance of “Pass Over.”

“Pass Over” has great relevancy to our current social moment with the recent tragic events both in the City of Chicago and in the nation involving the continued economic, social, and political disparity surrounding race in America. Pass Over asserts the value of the lives of these men by placing them in direct conversation with Samuel Beckett’s existential masterpiece “Waiting for Godot.” For tickets and info about this Networking Night, contact Max Lando at [email protected] (312) 654-5697.

Meet the Artists

Antoinette Nwandu is a member of the Ars Nova Play Group. Her plays have been produced and developed by Page73, Ars Nova, The Flea and Naked Angels, among others. She is the recipient of the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, the Negro Ensemble Company’s Douglas Turner Ward Prize and a Literary Fellowship at the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference. In spring 2016, Pass Over received a workshop as part of the Cherry Lane Mentor Project under the mentorship of Katori Hall.

Danya Taymor is the director and translator, Jon Michael Hill, who plays Moses, has been a Steppenwolf ensemble member since 2007 and performed in last season’s critically acclaimed play, Constellations. Hill currently appears as ‘Detective Marcus Bell’ in the CBS-TV series, Elementary; Julian Parker (Kitch) makes his Steppenwolf main stage debut. He is a co-founding member of Definition Theatre Company and received his BFA from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; and Ryan Hallahan (Mister) returns to Steppenwolf after appearing in this season’s critically acclaimed production of “Straight White Men.”

Ticket information is available at 312-335-1650 or at


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