Steppenwolf new building and education center opens


he Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center. (Steppenwolf Theatre Company photo)
The Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center. (Steppenwolf Theatre Company photo)


Internationally known Steppenwolf Theatre Company finally appears settled. Today, Nov. 2, 2021, Steppenwolf announced its $54 million Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center is now open.

Once a small ensemble begun in 1974 by Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry and Gary Sinise, it opened in the Unitarian Church in Deerfield, moved to the basement of another church in Highland Park, later on found a space at the Hull House on Broadway in Chicago, then an intimate space on North Halsted before settling into the 1600-1700 block of North Halsted in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Along the way it added H. E. Baccus, Nancy Evans, Moira Harris, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf and Alan Wilder and other well-known actors to its ensemble roster.

Part of a multi-phase $73 million Building on Excellence expansion campaign, the Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center houses a 50,000 square foot theater building plus education center designed by Gordon Gill of Adran smith and Gordon Gill Architecture with theater design and accoustics by charcoalblue (construction is by Norcon).

Steppenwolf’s expanded campus includes, new lobbies, full-service bars and The Loft Space for area youth.

“What an extraordinary day this is for our company and Chicago. This multi-phase campus expansion is over two decades in the making and is a manifestation of Steppenwolf’s core values of ensemble, innovation and cultural citizenship,” said Executive Director E. Brooke  Flanagan.

“Formed by an ensemble of young actors who wanted to create courageous work, nearly 50 years later our expanded campus builds on the company’s beginnings and ensures a future for the continued artistic growth of the ensemble and space for tens of thousands of Chicagoland teens to experience transformative arts education,” Flanagan said.

For more information about Steppenwolf Theatre Company visit Steppenwolf.

Jodie Jacobs

Steppenwolf names new artistic directors


Co-artistic directors Audrey Francis and Glenn Davis. In the round theater part of Steppenwolf's new Arts and Education Center opening this fall. (Photo by Frank Ishman.)
Co-artistic directors Audrey Francis and Glenn Davis. In the round theater part of Steppenwolf’s new Arts and Education Center opening this fall. (Photo by Frank Ishman.)

Steppenwolf Theatre Company,  a multi award-winning Chicago ensemble theater, announced today, that ensemble members Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis will be co-artistic directors when Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro steps down in August.

Actor/producer Glenn Davis a Chicago native with strong ties to Los Angeles, performed in Steppenwolf ensemble member Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo at L.A.’s Kirk Douglas Theatre, and transferred with the production to Broadway, where he starred alongside Robin Williams.

Upon joining the ensemble in 2017, Davis appeared in several productions including Downstate by ensemble member Bruce Norris in Chicago and at the National Theatre in London.

Davis is a partner at Cast Iron Entertainment, a collective of artists currently in residence at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse that incubates new theater projects.

He is also an artistic associate at The Young Vic Theatre in London and at The Vineyard Theatre in New York.

A graduate of DePaul University’s Theatre School, Davis is also the first African-American to graduate from the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada.

Actor/director/teaching coach, Audrey Francis is the co-founder of Black Box Acting. The Black Box Method she created is based on the Meisner and Viewpoints techniques. Although she and her partner sold it after a decade, Black Box continues in Chicago, today. However, she continues to as a professional acting coach for Showtime, NBC, Fox, and Amazon.

Francis, who attended The School at Steppenwolf in 2004 and has acted with several Chicago area companies, joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in 2017. Audiences have seen her in The Doppelgänger )Dance NationThe FundamentalsBetween Riverside and Crazy and The Herd.

She has also performed in such independent films as Knives and SkinLater DaysSignature Move and the web series Distant Learners. Recent directing credits include Plano with First Floor Theatre that debuted in the 1700 space at Steppenwolf, The Invisible Hand at Steep Theatre, and the audio play of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter in Steppenwolf’s most recent virtual Steppenwolf NOW season.

“Steppenwolf was founded by extraordinary actors who had a vision of building an ensemble of artists who would support each other while producing honest, bold, and thought-provoking theatre,” said Shapiro.

“This approach changed American theater. Now with a nearly 50-member ensemble, we are on the verge of our next great act—the opening of a remarkable new theater-in-the-round and an education wing, two decades in the making, that promises to be a cultural nexus for our City. Glenn and Audrey, together, are the right mix to build on our company’s legacy and open our doors wider than ever before.”

An information release on the appointment noted that Davis and Francis are the first co artistic directors appointed by the ensemble in its nearly five-decade history and the first time the company has elected an artistic director of color.

Jodie Jacobs



Around Town: Theater News

Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman)
Goodman Theatre (Photo courtesy of Goodman)

COVID cases are dwindling in Illinois and thus museums and many restaurants are re-opening but most of the news from Chicago’s theaters is what is still happening digitally.


Goodman Theatre started an Encore series of OnDemand video streaming free from March 15 through May 9. Pulled from Goodman’s video vault, they are “How to Catch Creation” by Christiana Anderson, Teatro Buendia’s “Pedro Paramo” by Raquel Carrio, “Smokefall” by Noah Haidle and “Measure for Measure” by the Bard, William Shakespeare.

All the productions were impressive but the one that really stuck in a corner of my obscure consciousness was “Smokefall”,presented in the fall of 2013.

A beautiful and though provoking play about life and love, it features Violet (Katherine Keberlein) as a wife whose husband is leaving and a mother whose daughter has problems. Violet is also about to birth twin boys whose thoughts on leaving the womb are astonishing and scary.

Her father, the Colonel, superbly portrayed by Mike Nussbaum (whom I admit is one of my favorite actors) is an elderly person whose mind is slipping, but has an important role in the life of this family.

Goodman is also continuing its stream of “Until the Flood” by Dael Orlandersmith, a powerful play that sheds light on Ferguson, MO from a variety of perspectives.

“Live theater is ephemeral; once a performance ends, it’s gone forever,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “But as we anticipate the day we can reopen our doors and resume in-person events, we are thrilled to offer this rare chance to watch a handful of signature Goodman productions—including world premieres, a re-imagined classic and a ground-breaking international collaborate—from our video archives.”

Encore tickets are free with reservations at and check for all productions at


Steppenwolf (Photo by Kyle Flubacker)
Steppenwolf (Photo by Kyle Flubacker)


At Steppenwolf Theatre, Scout, a new play development program, is doing a free virtual reading of “Mosque4Mosue” by Omer Abbas Salem on March 28 at 2 p.m. CST. The play,  comedy about how what might be considered an average 30something Arab American Muslim who is queer, handles a caring mother who wants the ideal man for him. To obtain a ticket call (312) 335-1650 or go to Steppenwolf Theatre/forms.

Jodie Jacobs