The Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble has made significant progress since its inception in the 1970s when it started performing in the basement of a Unitarian Church. Today, this highly esteemed performance group has three vibrant spaces located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. The Downstairs Theatre, which serves as the mainstage, showcases world production premieres and fresh interpretations of both classic and contemporary plays. The Upstairs Theatre, slightly smaller in size, offers a seating capacity of 299 seats and emphasizes the importance of creating an intimate connection between the actors and the audience. The most recent addition to the theater is the 1700, a laid-back and flexible space designed to foster intimacy and dedicated to the Steppenwolf company and emerging local theater groups.
Facilities at Steppenwolf Theatre
Steppenwolf Theatre comprises three distinct venues situated on Halsted Street in Lincoln Park. The largest of these venues is the Downstairs Theatre, accommodating 515 seats and featuring a fully stocked bar offering a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The slightly smaller Upstairs Theatre, with its comfortable lounge area in the lobby, offers 299 seats and also houses a fully equipped bar.
The newest venue, known as the 1700 Theatre, boasts a relaxed and intimate design, accommodating 80 seats. Positioned directly behind the Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, a 2,500-square-foot cafe and bar, this theater creates a multifunctional space. During the day, it serves as a neighborhood hub where locals can enjoy La Colombe coffee, pastries, and lunch. In the evening, it transforms into a creative space ideal for meeting collaborators before and after performances.
Programs at Steppenwolf Theatre
The Downstairs Theatre serves as the platform for the company’s grandest and most remarkable performances. It has witnessed a variety of intricate stage setups, such as a floating string quartet for the production of A Clockwork Orange, simulated rainfall for Three Days of Rain, and life-sized cars for I Just Stopped By to See the Man. Distinguished productions like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Song of Jacob Zulu originated in this theater before embarking on Broadway tours and beyond. Furthermore, the venue also hosts co-productions with visiting companies, such as the collaboration with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, About Face Theatre, and Tectonic Theater Project for the presentation of Tennessee Williams’ One Arm.
Meanwhile, the Upstairs Theatre, previously known as Steppenwolf Studio, was inaugurated in 1993 with Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile. This space remains dedicated to fulfilling the company’s vision of fostering an intimate actor-audience relationship.
The 1700 Theatre, the theater’s newest addition, was specifically designed to offer a casual, intimate, and flexible environment suitable for a wide range of genres and shows. It hosts diverse performances ranging from dance and live music to spoken word. Moreover, it serves as the home for LookOut, the theater’s performance series.
Steppenwolf Theatre Membership and Access
Passionate theater enthusiasts have the opportunity to become members and enjoy various benefits. The Classic Membership offers guaranteed seats and early access to 5, 6, or all 7 shows, starting from as low as $20 per show. The Director’s Circle provides VIP status and premium benefits, along with two complimentary five-play packages. Alternatively, one can opt for the Black or Red card, which grants anytime access and exclusive previews.
Reaching Steppenwolf Theatre
Steppenwolf Theatre is easily accessible by car, with self-parking available just 150 feet south of the theater at 1624 N Halsted. Additionally, the theater collaborates with Rapid Valet, offering valet services conveniently located in front of the venue at 1650 N Halsted Street.
For those preferring public transportation, the Red Line L to North Clybourn provides a convenient option. The CTA number 8 and 72 buses also have routes that pass near the theater, offering additional accessibility.
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