By Sam Shepard
Directed by Ensemble Member Randall Arney
The highly anticipated revival of Shepard’s masterpiece featuring a new generation of Steppenwolf ensemble
Now in rehearsals, Steppenwolf Theatre Company presents its first revival of the play that launched the theatre onto the national scene in 1982, True West, directed by ensemble member Randall Arney. Through the lens of a new generation of Steppenwolf artists, the 2019 production stars ensemble members Jon Michael Hill (CBS’s Elementary; Steppenwolf, Lincoln Center, and Spike Lee’s Pass Over) and Namir Smallwood (Lincoln Center’s Pass Over and Pipeline). Joining Hill and Smallwood are ensemble member and original cast member Francis Guinan and celebrated Chicago actor Jacqueline Williams.
Previews begin July 5, 2019, and the production runs through August 25, 2019, in the Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. Opening night is Sunday, July 14, at 6:00 p.m. Single tickets ($20-$96) available through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.
In 1982, Steppenwolf exploded onto the American Theatre scene with its now legendary production of Sam Shepard’s True West. This American classic traces the volatile relationship of Austin and Lee, estranged brothers who find themselves holed up together in their mother’s well-kept suburban house with a typewriter, a set of golf clubs and the undeniable call of the desert. In its first Steppenwolf revival, a new generation of artists take on Shepard’s masterpiece.
Steppenwolf’s original production of True West opened in 1982 with then fairly unknown actors Jeff Perry (Austin) and John Malkovich (Lee) playing the leads, alongside ensemble members Francis Guinan and Laurie Metcalf, directed by Gary Sinise. With Sam Shepard’s approval, Steppenwolf’s production transferred to Off-Broadway, where it opened at Cherry Lane Theatre in October 1982 with Gary Sinise taking on the role of ‘Austin.’ It closed on August 4, 1984, after 762 performances. A television movie of the stage play, featuring Sinise and Malkovich, aired on the PBS series “American Playhouse” in January 1984.
Cast Bios: Francis Guinan (Saul Kimmer) is a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble. He has appeared in more than 30 Steppenwolf productions.
Jon Michael Hill (Austin) has been a Steppenwolf ensemble member since 2007 and was last seen on Steppenwolf’s stage as Moses in Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over, which was filmed by Spike Lee and released by Amazon Studios. Hill reprised the role of Moses in the Lincoln Center Theater production the following year.
Namir Smallwood (Lee) joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in March 2017, where he has been seen in Aziza Barnes’ BLKS, Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ Monster, Christina Anderson’s Man In Love and The Hot L Baltimore.
Jacqueline Williams’ (Mom) Steppenwolf credits include: Familiar, The Christians, Airline Highway, Head of Passes (also at Mark Taper opposite Phylicia Rashad), Hot L Baltimore, Brother Sister Plays, and others. Goodman: includes Father Comes Home from the Wars, Pullman Porter Blues (some performances), and stop.reset, among others. She toured with the Market Theatre of Johannesburg. She is a multi-award winner and has worked and toured extensively and has had numerous TV/film roles, including a recurring Mrs. Brown on The Chi, Officer Becerra on Chicago Fire/PD/Med, Warden Myers on Empire, Prison Break, Heartlock, The Break Up, The Lake House.
Randall Arney has been a theater professional for more than 30 years and ensemble member and former artistic director of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre where his directing credits include Slowgirl, The Seafarer, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Death and the Maiden, and Curse of the Starving Class, among others. Mr. Arney’s acting credits with Steppenwolf include Born Yesterday, Ghost in the Machine, The Homecoming, Frank’s Wild Years, You Can’t Take It with You, and Fool for Love, among others.