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Theater Space | A view of the new theater-in-the-round at Steppenwolf

Stage Directions • Theatre Buzz • August 26, 2020

In this photo from the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, here’s a view looking at the underside of the catwalks and rigging grid above, as seen from the floor of the trap room, of Steppenwolf’s new theater-in-the-round.

Phase 2 of Steppenwolf’s campus, slated to open in the summer of 2021, is the construction of the new 50,000 sq. ft. building that will feature:

  • An intimate 400-seat in-the-round theater
  • Steppenwolf’s costume shop and updated production amenities
  • A dedicated education floor
  • A bright and open two-story atrium lobby
  • A wine bar and sidewalk lounge

“The new theater is a bold, modern, in-the-round space offering unparalleled levels of focus on the actors and audience,” says Gavin Green, Senior Partner at theater consultant Charcoalblue. “Chicago doesn’t have another space like it – in fact Steppenwolf is leading a renewed charge in defining rooms where dialogue and the immediacy of the performers is paramount.”

Designed with the highest accessibility standards, the new theater building will be located at 1646 N Halsted between the existing parking garage (which will remain) and the main theater building, seamlessly connecting the campus across Halsted Street. As part of this expansion phase, the lobbies of the Downstairs Theater will also undergo major renovations to better serve audiences.

The new theater will ultimately replace the Upstairs Theater, which will revert back to its original purpose as two rehearsal halls, and will be the only in-the-round theater space found in a major Chicago theater. With 400 seats and only six rows deep, the audience will experience more closeness to the work onstage and the ensemble is thrilled to have such an artistically different space that returns the company to its roots. As Steppenwolf ensemble member Tracy Letts explained, “I want the audience to see me sweat.”

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