Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Seagull Opening Steppenwolf’s New in-the-round Ensemble Theater April 28 – June 12, 2022

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Steppenwolf Theatre's SEAGULL 
opens new Ensemble Theater, April 28-June 12


Steppenwolf co-founder Jeff Perry and fellow

ensemble members Sandra Marquez, Caroline Neff,

Karen Rodriguez, Eric Simonson and Namir Smallwood

in rehearsal for ensemble member Yasen Peyankov’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s

Seagull Opening Steppenwolf’s new in-the-round Ensemble Theater

April 28 – June 12, 2022

Steppenwolf ensemble members (l-r) Karen Rodriguez, Namir Smallwood, Caroline Neff and co-founder Jeff Perry in rehearsal. Credit Joel Moorman.

I'll be out to review on May 15th, so check back soon for my full review.

Steppenwolf’s 2022 Gala celebrates new theater and expanded artistic home on Saturday, May 14, 2022

Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the nation’s premier ensemble theater company, opens its stunning new in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell—the centerpiece of its recently unveiled Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center—with ensemble member Yasen Peyankov’s extraordinarily funny and lyrical adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Seagull, April 28–June 12, 2022.

Yasen Peyankov directs the production, featuring Steppenwolf co-founder Jeff Perry and fellow ensemble members Sandra Marquez, Caroline Neff, Karen Rodriguez, Eric Simonson and Namir Smallwood, alongside Keith Kupferer, Elijah Newman, Jon Hudson Odom, Joey Slotnick and Lusia Strus. Scott Jaeck steps in for Jeff Perry for performances May 24–June 5. Three generations of Steppenwolf’s acclaimed ensemble collide in classic Chekhovian style in this play set over a long summer weekend in the Russian countryside, where guests wrestle with the eternal questions that haunt the intellectual artist class: What is Love? What is Art? When is Lunch? This historic moment in Steppenwolf history marks a new era of theater-making for the company in their new artistic home.

Single tickets to Seagull ($20–$88) are on sale now at and 312-335-1650.

Seagull inaugurates the new Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell at the heart of Steppenwolf’s trailblazing new Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill FAIA of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. The state-of-the-art 400-seat theater in-the-round is one of its kind in Chicago, with theater design and acoustics by Charcoalblue. Only six rows deep—with audience members never more than 20 feet from the stage—and featuring a modular staging system to vary audience capacity and experience, Charcoalblue designed the incredibly intimate Ensemble Theater from the inside out to integrate the theater into the fabric of the surrounding building. Steppenwolf’s transformed campus also includes two new full-service lobby bars designed by fc STUDIO, inc., offering additional spaces for socializing alongside the popular Front Bar.      

The opening of the Ensemble Theater with a multigenerational cast stacked with Steppenwolf ensemble members is the culmination of a season-long celebration of the new Arts and Education Center. The 2022 Steppenwolf Gala on Saturday, May 14 at 6:30 p.m. at Rockwell on the River celebrates the new theater and expanded campus, offering a gourmet dinner and evening of entertainment emceed by ensemble members and Artistic Directors Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis. Gala Co-Chairs are Caroline and Keating Crown, Nora Daley and Sean Conroy, and Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert. Additional host committee members include GCM Grosvenor, Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, Topher and Peyton Merrill, Northern Trust, Anne and Don Phillips, and Helen Zell. For more information, visit or email


Production Information



By Anton Chekhov

Adapted, translated and directed by ensemble member Yasen Peyankov

Featuring ensemble members Sandra Marquez, Caroline Neff, Jeff Perry, Karen Rodriguez, Eric Simonson and Namir Smallwood

With Scott Jaeck, Keith Kupferer, Jon Hudson Odom, Elijah Newman, Joey Slotnick and Lusia Strus

In the new Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell

April 28 – June 12, 2022

On a long summer weekend in the Russian countryside at an estate bursting at the seams with guests, three generations collide in ensemble member Yasen Peyankov’s extraordinarily funny and lyrical adaption of Anton Chekhov’s Seagull, the play that opens Steppenwolf's new in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell. In classic Chekhovian style, a sparkling cast featuring many Steppenwolf ensemble members wrestles with the eternal questions that haunt the intellectual artist class: What is Love? What is Art? When is Lunch? Join us for this historical moment in Steppenwolf’s journey as we explore the work that inspired us, laugh at the battles that consume us and celebrate, together, all that makes us grateful for each other.

The creative team includes Todd Rosenthal (Scenic Design); Ana Kuzmanic (Costume Design); Marcus Doshi (Lighting Design); Pornchanok (Nok) Kanchanabanca (Sound Designer and Composition); Dassia N. Posner (Dramaturg); Gigi Buffington (Company Voice & Text Coach); JC Clementz, CSA (Casting Director); Christine D. Freeburg (Production Stage Manager); and Kathleen Barrett (Assistant Stage Manager). 

Artist Bios

Yasen Peyankov (Translator/Adapter/Director) joined the Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble in 2002. Steppenwolf (directing): The Fundamentals, Between Riverside and Crazy (Jeff Nomination for Best Production 2016), Grand Concourse, Russian Transport, Hushabye, The Glass Menagerie. Other directing credits: Macbeth, Uncle Vanya, Go Away Go Away, Stars in the Morning Sky (European Repertory); Ladybird (The Evidence Room, LA), Overweight, Unimportant, Misshape: A European Supper (Trapdoor Theatre) and the Bulgarian premiere of August: Osage County at the National Theatre in Sofia. Steppenwolf (acting): Time of Your Life (also in Seattle and San Francisco), Morning Star (Jeff Award), Hysteria, Lost Land, Cherry Orchard, Frankie and Johnny in the Claire De Lune (also in Dublin), Superior Donuts (also on Broadway), Three Sisters, A Doll's House Part 2, The Children, Lindiwe and others. Film: Captive State, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas, Transformers 3, The Company, Novocain, US Marshalls and others. Television: Chicago Med, Chicago PD, FBI, Madam Secretary, Stranger Things, Gifted Hands, Alias, The Practice, The Unit, Numb3rs and others. Peyankov is a Professor and Head of Theatre at the School of Theatre and Music at UIC.

Scott Jaeck (Peter Nikolaevich Sorin, May 24–June 5) returns to Steppenwolf Theatre Company where he has appeared in Airline Highway, Three Sisters, Time Stands Still and Penelope. Broadway: Airline Highway, August: Osage County, The Night Of The Iguana. Off Broadway: The Harvest, The Irish Curse. Internationally: The Royal Shakespeare Company. Other Chicago credits include: The Seagull, Mary, Stage Kiss, Dinner With Friends, Uncle Vanya, Galileo (Goodman Theatre); The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry VIII, Twelfth Night, Henry IV 1&2, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, Love’s Labor’s Lost, Richard II (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Inherit The Wind, Red Herring, How I Learned To Drive (Northlight Theatre); Benefactors, Our Town (Writers Theatre); and Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Court Theatre). Regionally, Jaeck has performed with Shakespeare Theatre Company, SoHo Playhouse, Cleveland Play House, Indianapolis Repertory Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Television and film credits include: The Blacklist, The Good Fight, The Chaperone, Chicago Fire, Person Of Interest, Elementary, Boardwalk Empire and Washington Square.

Keith Kupferer (Ilya Shamraev) Theater credits include: The Great Leap, The Qualms, Good People, Middletown, Carter's Way, Of Mice & Men, South of Settling (Steppenwolf Theatre); Sweat, Support Group for Men, God of Carnage, Passion Play (Goodman Theatre); Mystery of Love and Sex, Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Wolf (Writer’s Theatre); Hillary and Clinton, Never the Sinner, Appropriate (Victory Gardens); Gypsy (Chicago Shakespeare); The Humans (American Theatre Company); Legend of Georgia McBride (Northlight); Big Lake, Big City, Trust (Lookingglass); Cal in Camo, The Cake (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble). Film: Widows; Monuments; The Dilemma; Dark Knight; The Express; Stranger Than Fiction; Road to Perdition; Fred Klaus. Television: Southside, The Big Leap, 61st Street, The Chi; Proven Innocent; Better Call Saul; Empire; Chicago P.D.; Chicago Fire.

Sandra Marquez (Polina Andreevna) is a Chicago-based actor, director and educator. In 2016 she was the first Latinx artist to join the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble. Steppenwolf credits include: A Doll’s House Part 2, The Roommate, The Doppelgänger, Mary Page Marlowe, The Motherfu&*er with the Hat, Sonia Flew, A Streetcar Named Desire. Other credits: Mala Hierba (Second Stage Theatre); Electricidad, The Happiest Song Plays Last, Mariela in the Desert (Goodman Theatre); Massacre, The Sins of Sor Juana, Another Part of the House (Teatro Vista); Clytemnestra in Iphigenia in Aulis, Agamemnon, and Electra (Court Theatre); Mojada & Anna in the Tropics (Victory Gardens Theater); Breakfast Lunch and Dinner (Oregon Shakespeare Festival). Marquez directed La Ruta by Isaac Gomez, marking the first all-Latina cast at Steppenwolf. More recently, she directed the critically acclaimed and sold-out world premiere of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter also at Steppenwolf. Jeff Awards: Best Supporting Actress in A View from the Bridge (Teatro Vista). Jeff Award nominations: Best Actress in a Leading Role for 26 Miles (Teatro Vista & Rivendell Theater), Living Out (Teatro Vista). A longtime ensemble member at Teatro Vista, she served as the Associate Artistic Director alongside Artistic Director Edward Torres from 1998-2006. She is a member of the Northwestern University theater faculty where she enjoys teaching and mentoring young artists.

Caroline Neff (Nina Zarechnaya) is a Steppenwolf ensemble member. At Steppenwolf, she was last seen in Dance Nation, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, You Got OIder, Linda Vista (also at the Taper Forum and Second Stage Broadway), The Fundamentals, The Flick, Airline Highway (also the Broadway production at Manhattan Theatre Club), The Way West, Three Sisters, Annie Bosh is Missing and Where We’re Born. Select theatre credits include: Lettie (Jeff Award Best Actress; Victory Gardens Theater); Uncle Vanya (Goodman Theatre); A Brief History of Helen of Troy (Jeff Award for Best Actress), The Knowledge, Harper Regan, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings (Steep Theatre); The Downpour (Route 66 Theatre); Port (Griffin Theatre); 4000 Miles (Northlight Theatre) and Moonshiner (Jackalope Theatre). Regional credits include: Peerless (Yale Repertory Theatre). Film and television credits include: The Red Line, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Open Tables and Older Children. She can also be seen in recurring roles in the upcoming Let the Right One in, and Three Women, both on Showtime. She is a proud company member of Steep Theatre and holds her BA from Columbia College Chicago.

Elijah Newman (Yakov, Konstantin/Medvedenko u/s) is thrilled to make his Steppenwolf debut. Theatre: As You Like It (Forest Park Theatre Company), Waiting for Lefty (Bluebird Arts), PickleRickicles (Otherworld Theatre), Peter and the Starcatcher (Big Noise Theatre), The Darkling (Theater Wit), Twelfth Night (The Frontier). Podcast: Dawescast (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) Training: BFA from University of Illinois at Chicago (2019), Vagabond School of the Arts, Eolia Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, L'École de Philippe Gaulier.

Jon Hudson Odom (Semyon Medvedenko) was last seen at Steppenwolf in MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT. Other Chicago credits: Witch (Writers Theatre); On Clover Road (American Blues Theater). Regional: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Denver Center for the Performing Arts); The Magic Play (Actors Theatre of Louisville) An Octoroon, Botticelli in the Fire, Shipwreck (Woolly Mammoth Theatre); Angels in America (Round House & Olney Theatre Center). Film: A Savage Nature, The Year Between. Television: Lovecraft Country, Somebody Somewhere (HBO), Chicago PD (NBC). Three-time nominee and recipient of the Helen Hayes Awards. Company member at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Education: University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Jeff Perry (Peter Nikolaevich Sorin, April 28–May 22 and June 7–12) is a co-founder of Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The School At Steppenwolf, Steppenwolf Classes West and Steppenwolf Films, and has acted and directed in over 40 productions. Broadway: The Caretaker, The Grapes of Wrath, August: Osage County. Off Broadway: Balm in Gilead, Tribes, Educating Rita. Regional: Streamers, Time of Your Life, Anna Christie, A Steady Rain. International: The Grapes of Wrath, August: Osage County. Film: A Wedding, Remember My Name, Trial By Fire. Television: Nash Bridges, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, $1, Dirty John, Inventing Anna. Upcoming: Co-Producer of The Steppenwolf Theatre Documentary.

 Karen Rodriguez (Masha) joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in 2018. She was most recently seen in the Steppenwolf for Young Adults critically acclaimed adaptation of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and on the mainstage in Dance Nation, La Ruta, The Doppelganger (an international farce), and The Rembrandt. Other selected Chicago credits include: The Way She Spoke (Greenhouse Theater Center), Breach (Victory Gardens Theater), The Displaced (Haven Theatre),  Hookman (Steep Theatre), Blue Skies Process (Goodman Theatre). Television credits include: The Big Leap and Chicago Fire.

Eric Simonson (Yevgeny Dorn) joined the Steppenwolf Ensemble in 1993 and served at Associate Artistic Director from 1992-97. Steppenwolf: (director/playwright) Lindiwe, Fake, Honest, Carter’s Way, Slaughterhouse-five, Nomathemba. (director) Evelyn and the Polka King, SLAVS!, The Song of Jacob Zulu (also Broadway and Perth Festival, Tony nomination), The Secret Rapture (Acting) The Grapes of Wrath (also LaJolla, London and Broadway), A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Broadway: (playwright) Lombardi, Bronx Bombers, Magic/Bird. Opera: (director) Silent Night, Grapes of Wrath, The Shining, The Fix (Minnesota Opera). Film: (director/writer) Note of Triumph (Academy Award), On Tiptoe (Academy Award nom.), Studs Terkel: Listening to America (Emmy nom.), Hamlet (co-directed with Campbell Scott), Topa Topa Bluffs. Television: (writer) Homecoming (Writer Guild nom.), Swagger, Man in the High Castle, Killing Reagan. Simonson is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Door Kinetic Arts Festival in Door County, WI.

Joey Slotnick (Boris Trigorin) makes his Steppenwolf debut in Seagull. Broadway: Junk, The Front Page, The Big Knife. Off-Broadway; Dying For It, Almost an Evening, Offices, Happy Hour (Atlantic); The Altruists (Vineyard); Chicago: Lookingglass Theatre ensemble member; Our Town, Great Men of Science Nos. 21 & 22, Wants & Needs, Arabian Nights,  Up Against It, The Master & Margarita, Third Voyage (Lookingglass) Animal Crackers (Goodman) Fun and Nobody (Next) Regional; A Play is a Poem (Mark Taper) Animal Crackers (Williamstown) Chapter Two (Bucks County) Romance (Bay Street) Film: The Plane (Upcoming), They/Them/Us, Humor Me, The Cobbler, Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Hollow Man, Blast from the Past, Twister, Judas Kiss, Dinner and Driving, Since You’ve Been Gone, A League of Their Own. Television: New Amsterdam, Leverage 2.0, Intelligence, The Goldbergs, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Murphy Brown,  Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, Too Big to Fail, Psych, CSI, The Office, Nip/Tuck, L&O: SVU, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Medium, Boston Public, Entourage, Boston Legal, Pirates of Silicon Valley, Family Guy, The Single Guy.

Namir Smallwood (Konstantin Treplev) joined the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble in 2017. Steppenwolf credits: Bug, True West, BLKS, Steppenwolf for Young Adults' Monster, Man In Love, The Hot l Baltimore. Broadway: Pass Over. Off Broadway: Pipeline, Pass Over (Lincoln Center). Chicago: The Lost Boys of Sudan (Victory Gardens Theater); Charm (Northlight Theatre); The Grapes of Wrath (The Gift Theatre); East Texas Hot Links (Writers Theatre). Regional: Marin Theatre Company, Pillsbury House Theatre, Ten Thousand Things, Guthrie Theater. Television: Chicago Fire (NBC), Betrayal (ABC), Elementary (CBS), American Rust (Showtime). Film: Rounding.

Lusia Strus (Irina Nikolaevna Arkadina) Steppenwolf Theatre Company: Good People (Jeff Nomination - Supporting Actor), Hysteria, Ironbound, Whispering City, Our Town and her original solo show It Ain’t No Fairy Tale, also performed in LA and NYC (LAWeekly Award-Outstanding Solo Performance). Broadway: Enron, Elling. Off Broadway: Rancho Viejo, The Retributionists (Playwrights Theatre), The Undeniable Sound of Right Now (Rattlestick Theatre) Chicago: Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (also in NYC, San Francisco, The HBO Comedy Festival in Aspen, throughout the US and abroad (NeoFuturist since 1993) and several productions at The Goodman, Northlight Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and European Reparatory including SLAVS! and Go Away Go Away (Jeff Award - Lead Actress), both of which were directed by Yasen Peyankov with Luda Lupatina. Other credits include Henry IV (The Royal Shakespeare Company), Travesties, Are You There McPhee? (world premiere by John Guare) (McCarter Theatre), Confederacy of Dunces (Huntington Theatre-Boston). Film: Every Day Miracles, Buffaloed, Soul. Television: Good Behavior, Search Party, Claws, Modern Family, The Blacklist. Upcoming: The Descendant, Paint with Owen Wilson.


The Expanded Steppenwolf Campus

Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s trailblazing new 50,000 square foot theater building and education center, the Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, was designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill FAIA of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, with construction by Norcon. The centerpiece of the new Arts and Education Center is the new 400-seat in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell—one of its kind in Chicago—with theater design and acoustics by Charcoalblue. The inaugural production in the Ensemble Theater will be ensemble member Yasen Peyankov’s extraordinarily funny and magical adaptation of Seagull, stacked with a cast of ensemble members (April 28–June 12, 2022).

The expanded Steppenwolf campus is a cultural nexus for Chicago, offering bold and ambitious opportunities for creative expression, social exchange, unparalleled accessibility, and arts-driven learning for Chicago youth in The Loft, Steppenwolf’s first-ever dedicated education space. The campus expansion also features bright new lobbies and two new full-service bars for socializing designed by fc STUDIO, inc. The $54 million new building is part of Steppenwolf’s multi-phase $73 million Building on Excellence expansion campaign. Learn more about Steppenwolf’s campus expansion at


A Safe Return

Steppenwolf is part of the growing coalition of more than 70 Chicagoland performing arts venues and producers that have agreed upon COVID-19 vaccination and mask requirements for all audiences, artists and staff. Audience members must provide proof of vaccination in addition to wearing masks. Learn more about Steppenwolf's guidelines at

Steppenwolf has worked over the past year with our operations team, public health advisors and HVAC consultants to prepare its facility to safely welcome patrons back for performances. The addition of the new Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center has expanded the square footage of the lobbies to nearly twice the previous amount of space offered to guests. Two additional elevators and multiple stairways have also been added to Steppenwolf’s campus for ease of transition between seating levels. The HVAC systems have undergone upgrades to allow for increased filtration and a higher percentage of circulated fresh air across all three theaters.


Steppenwolf offers accessible services to ensure all audience members have access to our work, including American Sign Language interpretation (available for student matinees as scheduled with education staff or per public performances below), Spanish Language captions, wheelchair accessible seating and more. With questions, email

Sponsor Information

Seagull is generously supported by premier production sponsor Northern Trust; grand production sponsors Julie and Roger Baskes, Amy and Cameron Findlay, and Shmaila Tahir and Asheesh Goel; and individual production sponsors Jeffrey Maling and Rebecca Johnston. Steppenwolf's New Plays Initiative is supported by the Zell Family Foundation. Accessibility Services sponsored by John Hart and Carol Prins. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf is also grateful for the significant season support from the Ralla Klepak Foundation for Education in the Performing Arts, Northern Trust, Allstate Insurance Company, ComEd, JPMorgan Chase, PNC, and Vinci Restaurant.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a Chicago theater that is home to America’s ensemble. The company began performing in the mid-1970s in the basement of a Highland Park, IL church—today Steppenwolf is the nation’s premier ensemble theater with 49 members who are among the top actors, playwrights and directors in the field. Deeply rooted in its ensemble ethos, the company is committed to equity, diversity, inclusion and making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to all. Groundbreaking productions from Balm in Gilead and August: Osage County to Downstate and Pass Over—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony® Awards—have made the theatre legendary. Artistic programming includes a main stage season; a Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; LookOut, a multi-genre performance series; and the Steppenwolf NOW virtual stage. The nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf Education engages more than 20,000 participants annually in Chicagoland communities promoting compassion, encouraging curiosity and inspiring action. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, more than 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. 2021 marks the opening of Steppenwolf’s landmark Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts & Education Center—deepening the company’s commitment to Chicagoland teens and serving as a cultural nexus for Chicago. Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis are the Artistic Directors and E. Brooke Flanagan is Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees.

Steppenwolf’s Mission: Steppenwolf strives to create thrilling, courageous and provocative art in a thoughtful and inclusive environment. We succeed when we disrupt your routine with experiences that spark curiosity, empathy and joy. We invite you to join our ensemble as we navigate, together, our complex world.,, and        


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