Definition Theatre & The New Colony’s BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI runs through Aug. 2 at Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre

The New Colony and Definition Theatre Company’s runaway hit BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI, winner of three 2016 Jeff Awards including Best New Work, returns this summer featuring the full original cast from July 22 – August 21, 2016 as part of Steppenwolf’s Visiting Company Initiative at their new 1700 Theatre, 1700 N. Halsted St. in Chicago. The searing new American drama by The New Colony Co-Artistic Director Evan Linder, directed by Definition Theatre’s Founding Artistic Director Tyrone Phillips, enjoyed two sold-out extensions during its world premiere last winter at The Den Theatre. Tickets for BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI are available at or by calling (312) 335-1650.

The return engagement of BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI features the full original cast: Jeffery Owen Freelon Jr., Kiki Layne, Evan Linder, Liz Sharpe and Cecelia Wingate.

Jim and Laurel Parker are about to become new parents. They are broke. They are loud. They are “proud white trash.” When Laurel gives birth to their long overdue child, she and Jim are faced with the biggest challenge of their lives. Byhalia, Mississippi explores a couple in the midst of turmoil and a town with a racially charged past that finds its way into the present.

BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI was recently honored with three 2016 non-Equity Joseph Jefferson Awards including Best New Work (Evan Linder), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Cecelia Wingate) and Best Scenic Design (John Wilson). The production was also nominated for Best Play, Best Director (Tyrone Phillips) and Best Actress in a Principal Role (Liz Sharpe).

The World Premiere Conversation

BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI debuted in January 2016 as part as of a unique “world premiere conversation,” with full productions opening simultaneously in Chicago, Toronto (Cue6 Productions), Memphis (Playhouse on the Square) and Charleston, SC, (Village Rep Co.). The following week, staged readings were held in Birmingham, AL (Theatre Downtown), Boulder, CO (square product theatre) and Los Angeles, CA (Sixth Avenue). Audiences and company members from all seven cities came together for an international online talkback on Monday, January 18 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) to discuss the play’s impact on their local audiences. For ongoing updates on BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPl, visit the blog at

“The New Colony and Definition Theatre’s production of Byhalia, Mississippi was especially meaningful because the January world premiere was shared with companies in six other cities as part of the World Premiere Conversation,” comments playwright and The New Colony Co-Artistic Director Evan Linder. “The discussions we had and relationships we formed through that producing model were such an integral part of the Byhalia experience for us. Transferring to Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre feels like an accomplishment we can share with all of the other amazing artists across North America who helped launch this play into the world. We’re thrilled to get to tell this story again!”

“There is a true art in collaboration that is in the spirit of the Chicago theatre community and Byhalia, Mississippi is the perfect example of how meaningful a successful collaboration can be,” comments director and Definition Theatre Company founding artistic director Tyrone Phillips. “I am thrilled to be sharing this production with Steppenwolf audiences and I look forward to engaging with our new and old audience members. This is why we make theatre. As artists we get to challenge the world we live in and change hearts one person at a time.”

“It is an honor to host Definition Theatre Company and The New Colony’s remount of Byhalia, Mississippi in our new 1700 Theatre, as a part of Steppenwolf’s longstanding Visiting Company Initiative,” comments Steppenwolf Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro. “I was lucky enough to see the original production and was blown-away. Steppenwolf has its roots in the storefront world, and we cherish the opportunity to open our doors to the next generation of Chicago theater-makers.”

The production team for BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI includes: John Wilson (scenic design), Kristy Hall (costume designer), Slick Jorgensen (lighting design), Gary Tiedemann (original sound), Kira Lyon (props design), Kat Zukaitis (dramaturg), Bobby Huggins (technical director), Claire Haupt (production manager) Matt Test (sound engineer), Alon Stotter (lighting director), Eric Van Tassell (master electrician), Kotryna Hilko (associate costume designer) and Clarissa Jugo (stage manager).


About the Creative Team

Evan Linder (Playwright) is a founding member and the Co-Artistic Director of The New Colony in Chicago. He works as a playwright, actor and director. His plays include FRAT, 11:11, The Warriors, The Bear Suit of Happiness (published by Chicago Dramaworks), B-Side Studio and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, which ran Off-Broadway at the SoHo Playhouse, is published by Samuel French and has been performed in Europe, Asia, Australia and over 30 States. Works in development include The Hunted, co-written with Paul Oakley Stovall and The Issue, which is in currently in workshops with The New Colony. He has acted in over 40 productions, most recently as Jonathan in ReWILDing Genius as part of Steppenwolf’s Garage Rep. Evan teaches playwriting at the University of Chicago.

Tyrone Phillips (Director) is the founding Artistic Director of Definition Theatre Company and Artistic Assistant at Writers Theatre. Named one of Chris Jones’ “Hot New Faces of 2015” he is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Directing credits include Byhalia, Mississippi (co-production The New Colony), Dutchman (Definition Theatre Company) and Amuze Bash (Pavement Group). Acting credits include A Doll’s House, Genesis, The Brothers’ Size (Definition Theatre Company); George Orwell’s 1984 (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Stick Fly (Windy City Playhouse) West Side Story (Assembly Hall); Speech and Debate (Station Theatre); Assassins, A Christmas Carol, A Raisin in the Sun, understudying The Mountaintop, understudying Clybourne Park (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre); and Saturday Night/Sunday Morning (Prologue Theatre Company); in the Steppenwolf Garage. Tyrone studied abroad at Shakespeare’s Globe and served as an artistic intern at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.

About The New Colony

The New Colony, the 2011 recipient of the Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theater Award, strives to contribute original material to the American artistic canon and develop a new kind of theater going audience. Through collaboration with emerging artists of all disciplines, The New Colony continually develops new work and fresh perspectives. With the goal of exploring enticing subject matter and the common language of experience, The New Colony will cultivate the next generation of arts supporters.

About Definition Theatre Company

Definition Theatre Company is a Chicago ensemble-based theatre founded by six graduates of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Featuring a multi-ethnic core companionship of actors, Definition strives to artistically reflect the myriad of modern America to inspire and engage the communities it represents through contemporary and classical theatrical works.

About Steppenwolf’s 1700 Theatre

Steppenwolf’s newest theater, the 1700 Theatre is a casual, intimate and flexible 80-seat space dedicated to showcasing the work of the Steppenwolf ensemble, emerging local theater companies and LookOut, Steppenwolf’s new multi-genre performance series, presenting a wide variety of work, coming from a diverse array of voices, artists emerging and established alike.