American Sign Language ART Added to LookOut Series, Sept 17-18

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Steppenwolf’s LookOut performance series adds a new American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation of Yasmina Reza’s award-winning 1994 comedy Art to the fall lineup. Translated by Christopher Hampton with a new ASL adaptation by Robert Schleifer and Larry Nehring, the staged reading is directed by Henry Godinez, Resident Artistic Associate at Goodman Theatre. Performances areSaturday, September 17 at 8pm and Sunday, September 18 at 4pm in Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre (1700 N Halsted St). Tickets ($10) go on sale tomorrow, Friday, August 19 at 11am through Audience Services at312.355.1650 and steppenwolf.org. For additional LookOut programming, visit steppenwolf.org/lookout.

In this unique staged reading, the play will be performed simultaneously in ASL and Spoken English, matching Yasmina Reza’s prose with the visual language of ASL. This performance will also feature open captioning. Acclaimed actor Robert Schleifer will play Serge in ASL, alongside the celebrated actor and artistic director of The Gift Theatre Michael Patrick Thornton who will voice the role. Remaining casting to be announced at a later date. This new ASL interpretation of Art was developed and supported in part by a 3Arts Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Yasmina Reza’s 1994 comedy Art tells the story of three friends and the piece of modern art that tests their fraternal bonds. After Serge purchases an obscenely expensive white painting (with white diagonal lines), his friend Marc is sent into a fury of disbelief. Together with their friend Yvan who gets caught in the crossfire, Marc and Serge engage in a battle of wits set to undermine a years-long friendship.

Robert Schleifer (adaptor and actor) is an actor, instructor and photographer based in Chicago. An Actors’ Equity Association member, he performed in the national Broadway tour of Deaf West’s Big River. Schleifer portrayed John Singer in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at Steppenwolf, Tuc in Suzan Zeder’s The Edge of Peaceat Seattle Children’s Theatre, Howie Newsome in Our Town at The Actor Theatre of Louisville and the last seven seasons of A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre. He has taught classes and workshops all over the world, including renowned opera programs in Italy and Austria, as well as Northwestern University, Columbia College and North Carolina School for the Deaf, among others. He attended the Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester and Northwestern University. His many awards include the After Dark Outstanding Performance Award for the role of Dr. Dysart in Equus, Best Ensemble for Police Deaf Near Far, Holy Ghost in the Jeff Award-winning musical Pope Joan. He also was the recipient of prestigious 3Arts Award and a 3Arts Fellowship from University of Illinois-Chicago.

Michael Patrick Thornton (actor) is the artistic director and co-founder of The Gift Theatre and recently received rave reviews for his portrayal of Richard III in the Gift’s production, which was presented at Steppenwolf. For his performance in Will Eno’s Title and Deed at Lookingglass Theatre, he received a Time Out Chicago “Best Actor” award. Additional credits include the Kennedy Center workshop of fellow Gift ensemble member Andrew Hinderaker’s Colossal; The Gift’s world premiere of Hinderaker’s Dirty and U.S. Premiere ofAbsolute Hell directed by fellow Gift ensemble member Sheldon Patinkin. Thornton performed in Will Eno’sMiddletown at Steppenwolf, directed by Les Waters. He directed the Chicago Premiere of Will Eno’s Oh, The Humanity (and other exclamations) at The Gift as well as Of Mice and Men at Steppenwolf. Other directing with The Gift include: Prairie View, Night & Her Stars, Stop/Kiss; Santa’s Great American Depression Holiday Show! America; White People; Three Sisters; Long Day’s Journey Into Night; Hurlyburly (Joseph Jefferson Award: Actor In Leading Role); A Young Man In Pieces; Language Of Angels; County Fair; and Orestes 2.0. Other directing: the world premieres of Sean Graney’s IS N UR B1UDS7REEM…, Mark Harvey Levine’s LA 8AM(Collaboraction’s Sketchbook) and Picasso At The Lapin Agile (Noble Fool). Michael served as assistant director on Steppenwolf’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning August: Osage County.

LookOut is Steppenwolf’s multi-genre performance series in the 1700 Theatre (1700 N Halsted St). Presenting a wide variety of work from a diverse array of voices, artists emerging and establishing alike, LookOut programming takes place in Steppenwolf’s new 80-seat cabaret-style theater, situated behind Steppenwolf’s Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, open daily from 7am to midnight. For full LookOut programming and pricing, visitsteppenwolf.org/lookout.

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 1700 Theatre. Formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, Steppenwolf has grown into an ensemble of 46 actors, writers and directors. Artistic programming includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a new multidisciplinary performance series. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway 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. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Managing Director. Nora Daley is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visitwww.steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre and twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr.