Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s First Look Repertory features new work by Aaron Carter, Edith Freni and Janine Nabers

Eighth Annual Rep kicks off July 29 in the Garage Theatre

CHICAGO, IL – Performances begin in three weeks for Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s upcoming eighth annual First Look Repertory of New Work, featuring three developmental productions of new plays presented in rotating repertory July 29 – August 25, 2013 in the Garage Theatre (1624 N Halsted St). First Look 2013 includes: Annie Bosh is Missing by Janine Nabers, directed by Shade Murray; Buena Vista by Edith Freni, directed by ensemble member Tim Hopper; and The Gospel of Franklin by Aaron Carter. The 2013 festival also features free readings of three new plays: BARBECUE written and directed by Robert O’Hara; Tempo by Mike Batistick, directed by ensemble member Ian Barford; and Your Name Will Follow You Home by Carlos Murillo, directed by Dexter Bullard. Tickets to First Look Repertory of New Work ($20) are on sale now at, 1650 N Halsted St or 312-335-1650. Student tickets ($15) are available with valid ID. Passes to all three plays are available for $45.

“Part of what makes First Look such an exciting program is introducing new plays to audiences for the first time,” comments Producer Jacob Padrón. “Our audience is the final and perhaps most important collaborator. I find it electrifying to sit in a dark theater knowing I am among the first to experience a new work. We hope the audience shares in the same sense of excitement.”

The mission of First Look Repertory of New Work is to develop plays for future production at Steppenwolf and other theaters across the country. Since its inception, 12 of the 21 plays presented during First Look’s first seven seasons have enjoyed subsequent world premieres at other theaters, including: Sarah Gubbins’ Fair Use, produced by Actors’ Express in Atlanta, Georgia; Jason Wells’ Perfect Mendacity, produced by Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida; Wells’s Men of Tortuga, also produced by Asolo, with a second production at Profiles Theater in Chicago; The Butcher of Baraboo by Marisa Wegrzyn, produced by 2econd Stage Theatre in New York, with a second production at A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago; 100 Saints You Should Know by Kate Fodor, produced by Playwrights Horizons in New York; Spare Change by Mia McCullough, produced by Stage Left Theatre in Chicago; Gary by Melinda Lopez, produced by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre in Massachusetts; When The Messenger is Hot by Laura Eason, produced by 59E59 Theaters in New York; Eason’s Sex with Strangers, produced by Steppenwolf, with a second production scheduled at Second Stage Theatre in New York; Pursued by Happiness by Keith Huff, produced by Road Theater Company in Los Angeles, California; The North Plan by Jason Wells, produced by Portland Center Stage, with a second production at Theater Wit in Chicago; and Oblivion by Carly Mensch is scheduled for Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut.

The production team for First Look 2013 includes William Boles (scenic design), Joanna Melville (costume design, Annie Bosh is Missing), Sally Dolembo (costume design, Buena Vista), David Hyman (costume design, The Gospel of Franklin), Heather Gilbert (lighting design) and Kevin O’Donnell (sound design). Additional credits include: Erica Daniels (casting), Ryan Bourque (fight choreography), Cassie Wolgamott (lead stage manager), Michelle Medvin (stage manager) and Jonathan Nook (stage manager).


Annie Bosh is Missing

A new play by Janine Nabers

Directed by Shade Murray

Featuring Jennifer Avery, Brittany Burch, Ian Paul Custer, Caroline Neff, David Seeber, Krenée A. Tolson and Phillip Edward Van Lear

Annie Bosh is back. 22 years old and fresh out of rehab, she finds herself working in a bowling alley, living in her mother’s ritzy subdivision, and desperate to move on with her life. Slipping out of the front gates, Annie wanders the chaotic streets of a post-Hurricane Katrina Houston, but what exactly is she looking for?

Janine Nabers is a 2012 New York Theatre Workshop playwriting fellow. Her plays include: Welcome to Jesus, Serial Black Face, Annie Bosh is Missing, A Swell in the Ground, West of the Willow Tree, Juniper, Jubilee and book to the musical Mrs. Hughes (composer/lyricist Sharon Kenny).

Buena Vista

A new play by Edith Freni

Directed by ensemble member Tim Hopper

Featuring Leah Karpel, Rich Komenich, Luigi Sottile and Karen Vaccaro

When Noah shows up at his family’s isolated Colorado cabin, he discovers his estranged mother has been squatting there for months. Then Dad walks in—questioning the reason for his son’s retreat—and Noah’s weekend getaway turns into a bizarre, snowed-in family nightmare. A series of revelations ignite Buena Vista’s surreal conclusion, unfolding in a frozen wooden box at 12,000 feet above sea level.

Edith Freni’s work has been developed and produced at Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, LAByrinth Theatre Company and The Public Theatre, among others. Her plays include Total Power Exchange, The Prince, KidStuff, Baby Girl and Help Yourself. She is a former competitive amateur boxer and a competitive triathlete. She teaches playwriting at the University of Miami, where she is currently at work on a trilogy of classical Greek adaptations commissioned by the University MFA: NYU.

The Gospel of Franklin                                                      

A new play by Aaron Carter

Directed by Robert O’Hara

Featuring Rob Fenton, Tim Frank, Keith D. Gallagher, Gavin Lawrence and Julian Parker

Franklin is a man of God with a talent for recognizing people who suffer in secret. A working-class black man, he mentors young white men at the factory with a preacher’s zeal. But when Franklin himself needs help, it is his son William who comes to the rescue. The Gospel of Franklin is a warm, fiercely intelligent play that asks the question: can you save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?

Aaron Carter is the director of new play development at Steppenwolf Theater Company where he is completing his second season. As a playwright, Aaron’s work focuses on race, faith and obscure performance skills. Chicago credits include Panther Burn and First Words, both produced by MPAACT. His play Start Fair was originally developed at Next Theater and has had subsequent readings with Route 66 Theatre Company and the Lorraine Hansberry Theater in San Francisco.


A new play written and directed by Robert O’Hara

Featuring ensemble members Alana Arenas, Mariann Mayberry and James Vincent Meredith with Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Kate Buddeke, Jennifer Engstrom, TaRon Patton, Tamberla Perry, Jason Wells and Nicole Wiesner

A pot head, an alcoholic, a pill popper and a control freak. The last four people who should EVER perform an intervention decide it’s time for their crack-head sister, Zippity Boom, to get HER life together. This hilarious over-the-top family portrait offers all the pleasures of watching people in a knock-down drag-out fight, but also asks: who’s zooming who?

Robert O’Hara has directed at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, New York Shakespeare Festival, Alley Theater, Arena Stage, Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theater, Alliance Theater, City Theater, American Conservatory Theater, Primary Stages and Goodman Theater, among many others. He received a NAACP Best Director Award, Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play, an Oppenheimer for Best American Debut and an Obie Award. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at NYU/Tisch and Mellon Resident at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company.

A new play by Mike Batistick

Directed by ensemble member Ian Barford

Featuring Daniel Cantor, Carrie Coon, Marissa Lichwick, Kelly O’Sullivan, Andy Pang and Dan Waller

Jim is a pharmaceutical salesman who is flailing at his job. He’s taking his own medicine. He drives a Ford Tempo. And his wife is about to leave him. But he’s about to come up with a plan that he hopes will right the ship: too bad it’s not legal.

Michael Batistick is the author of three critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway plays: Chicken, Port Authority Throw Down and Ponies. In television, he has written for FX’s The Americans and Dick Wolf’s Chicago PD on NBC. His original pilot We Counted Your Knives is currently in development with USA Network. Other plays include Bodega Lung Fat (Public Theater New Work Now) and Flag (Hangar Theater in Ithaca, NY). A graduate of Julliard’s writing program, he grew up in New Jersey and went to undergrad at Fordham University in the Bronx.

Your Name Will Follow You Home
A new play by Carlos Murillo

Directed by Dexter Bullard

Featuring ensemble member Yasen Peyankov with Cliff Chamberlain, Sandra Delgado, Derek Gaspar, Adam Poss, Amanda Powell, Sarah Price and Juan Villa

Javier and Alvaro’s quest to tell the story of reclusive Chicano writer Danny Santiago leads them down the rabbit hole of American identity. Can they tell a story where Charlie Chaplin, aristocratic ex-Stalinists, the black list, 50s B-Monster Movies, East LA gangbangers, serial plagiarists and forgers, fake Latinos, and Jesse James intermingle? And will their friendship survive?

Carlos Murillo is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and is the head of the DePaul University playwriting program. His plays include Augusta & Noble, Dark Play or stories for boys, A Human Interest Story (or The Gory Details and All), Offspring of the Cold War and Schadenfreude. His work has been produced at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Adventure Stage, Walkabout Theatre, Circle X, Soho Rep and others.

The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust is the Production Sponsor of First Look Repertory of New Work.

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 three repertory series: First Look Repertory of New Work, Garage Rep and Next Up. 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, and