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Games turn deadly in Chicago Premiere of Deborah Zoe Laufer’s Leveling Up


CHICAGO, IL – When the game turns deadly, how will you play? Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ 2013/14 season explores that question in Deborah Zoe Laufer’s Millennial coming-of-age drama, Leveling Up. Hallie Gordon helms the production in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre, featuring Carolyn Braver, Jerry MacKinnon, Clancy McCartney and JJ Phillips. Leveling Up runs February 26 – March 15, 2014; the press performance is on March 1 at 11am. Performances at 10am are reserved for school groups only; public performances are scheduled March 1 at 11am and March 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 7:30pm. Single tickets ($20) are on sale now through Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St), 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org. School group tickets are available through Education and Community Programs Coordinator Lauren Sivak at 312-654-5643.

Three twenty-something roommates are glued to their video games. They are masters of the virtual worlds behind the computer screens in their Las Vegas basement. When one of them uses his gaming skills to land a job with the National Security Agency launching actual drones and missiles, online battles begin to have real consequences. Leveling Up is a fresh, contemporary look at how we navigate the blurry line between worlds both virtual and real and learn to live with the choices that we make.

“This season we investigate one new and one classic play in which young people navigate tricky moral landscapes in games both virtual and real,” comments Artistic and Educational Director of Steppenwolf for Young Adults Hallie Gordon. “Through Lord of the Flies this fall and Leveling Up in the spring, we examine what it means to grow up and take responsibility for our actions and their sometimes devastating consequences. Building on the themes of last year’s Now Is The Time initiative, aimed at empowering youth to take action against violence and intolerance in their communities, we ask the question: when the game turns deadly, how will you play?”

The cast of Leveling Up features Carolyn Braver as Jeannie; Jerry MacKinnon as Chuck; Clancy McCartney as Ian; and JJ Phillips as Zander.

The production team for Leveling Up includes: Brian Sidney Bembridge (scenic and costume design), JR Lederle (lighting design), Rick Sims (sound design) and Anna Henson (projection design). Additional credits include: Erica Daniels (casting) Ryan Bourque (fight coordinator) and Jonathan Nook (stage manager).

Tickets to public performances of Leveling Up ($20) are on sale now through Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St), 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org. Tickets to the performances on Saturday, March 1 and Friday, March 7 are 2-for-1.

Student Discounts: a limited number of $15 student tickets are available through Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St) or by calling 312-335-1650. Must present a valid student ID for each ticket. School Performances are currently on sale. Contact Education and Community Programs Coordinator Lauren Sivak at 312-654-5643. Adult Groups: all groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance throughout the season. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org/groups.

Target is the sponsor of the Target 2-for-1 Matinees. JPMorgan Chase is the major corporate supporter of Steppenwolf’s career readiness and professional leadership program.

Free post-show discussions are offered after every performance. Steppenwolf is located near all forms of public transportation and is wheelchair accessible. Street and lot parking are available. Assistive listening devices and large-print programs are available for every performance.

Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ unique approach combines play production with educational components to enhance arts education for young audiences, as well as their teachers and families. SYA creates two full-scale professional productions each season specifically for teens. Working closely with the Chicago Public and metropolitan area schools and other community partners, SYA annually ensures access to the theater for more than 12,000 participants from Chicago’s diverse communities. The initiative also includes post-show discussions with artists; classroom residencies led by Steppenwolf-trained teaching artists in more than 30 classrooms in 12 public high schools; professional development workshops for educators; and the Young Adult Council, an innovative year-round after school initiative that uniquely engages high school students in all areas of the theater’s operations.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is America’s longest standing, most distinguished ensemble theater, producing nearly 700 performances and events annually in its three Chicago theater spaces—the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat Garage Theatre. Formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, Steppenwolf has grown into an ensemble of 43 actors, writers and directors. Artistic programming at Steppenwolf includes a five-play Subscription Season, a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season and two repertory series: First Look Repertory of New Work and Garage Rep. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Off-Broadway, Broadway, London, Sydney and Dublin. Steppenwolf has the distinction of being the only theater to receive the National Medal of Arts, in addition to numerous other prestigious honors including an Illinois Arts Legend Award and 12 Tony Awards. Martha Lavey is the Artistic Director and David Hawkanson is the Executive Director. Nora Daley is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre and twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr.

Currently on stage is Tribes by Nina Raine, directed by ensemble member Austin Pendleton (December 5, 2013 – February 15, 2014) in the Downstairs Theatre.

The 2013/14 subscription season also includes Russian Transport by Erika Sheffer, directed by ensemble member Yasen Peyankov (February 6 – May 11, 2014) in the Upstairs Theatre; The Way West by Mona Mansour, directed by ensemble member Amy Morton (April 3 – June 8, 2014) in the Downstairs Theatre; and The Qualms by Bruce Norris, directed by Pam MacKinnon (July 3 – August 31, 2014) in the Downstairs Theatre.

Tickets for all remaining 2013/14 productions are on sale now.

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