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Steppenwolf Theatre Company Extends Ms. Blakk for President
2019-06-21

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CHICAGO ( June 21, 2019 ) — Due to popular demand, Steppenwolf Theatre Company has added seven more performances to the run of Ms. Blakk for President . Now playing through July 21, this new work was conceived of and directed by ensemble member Tina Landau( SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical ) and created by ensemble members Tina Landau and Tarell Alvin McCraney ( Moonlight, Academy Award ). Hailed as "Joyous, emotional, musical and wonderfully executed…highly recommended "( Windy City Times ) and "A visual and narrative kaleidoscope…It inspires and agitates" ( Chicago Reader ), the party keeps going in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted. Jos N. Banksjoins the cast as Joan Jett Blakk, replacing ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney for the extension dates. Also featured in the extension cast are Patrick Andrews, Molly Brennan, Daniel Kyri, Jon Hudson Odom and Sawyer Smith.

Tickets ( $20-$94 ) to the extension of Ms. Blakk for President go on sale Friday, June 21 at 11am through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org .

Added performances of Ms. Blakk for President include:

Tuesday, July 16 at 7:30pm

Wednesday, July 17 at 7:30pm

Thursday, July 18 at 7:30pm

Friday, July 19 at 7:30pm

Saturday, July 20 at 3pm and 7:30pm

Sunday, July 21 at 3pm

Meet America's first drag queen presidential candidate—Ms. Joan Jett Blakk—as she announces her bid to run for President of the United States. It's Chicago, 1992, and with the AIDS crisis at its height, Joan and the newly formed Queer Nation Chicago have an urgent agenda. Joan sets off on an exhilarating and dangerous journey to drag queer politics out of the closet and into a future where ALL are visible, and ALL have a place at the table. Inspired—but not bound by true events, MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT takes us into the heart and mind of one of Chicago's most singular and radical citizens. Infused with music and hilarity, MS. BLAKK is part campaign rally, part nightclub performance, part confessional—and all party!

Co-Creator and Director Tina Landau shares, "I didn't want to start the piece at all until I had contacted Terence ( Joan Jett Blakk ) and had his blessing and support. We connected, and he told me his story, in his words, over hours and hours, and that formed the basis for our starting the work. It's a Chicago story, it's a true story, it's an untold story. It's a queer story. It's a political story. As someone who was alive at the height of the AIDS epidemic, I wanted to do this piece both to honor Terence and the "army of lovers" at ACT UP and QUEER NATION, as well as in memory of dear friends lost at the time. It's for them."

Seating Options for Ms. Blakk for President

With a production that is part campaign rally, part nightclub, part confessional and all PARTY, it's absolutely fitting that the Upstairs Theatre has undergone a fabulous makeover with all-new party zone seating options. The theatre includes a runway with up-close seating ( think Paris Fashion Week ), as well as cabaret style café tables and comfy couch seating. If wallflower is the preference over the party zone, traditional theatre seating is also available for those who like to sit back and observe the action. Audience members can claim their spot in the party zone or traditional seating during ticket purchase.

About the Creators

Tarell Alvin McCraney is an acclaimed playwright and screenwriter. His script In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue is the basis for the Oscar-winning film Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins, for which McCraney and Jenkins won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. He also wrote the film High Flying Bird which recently premiered on Netflix directed by Steven Soderbergh. McCraney's plays include The Brother/Sister Plays trilogy, Head of Passes, WIG OUT! and Choir Boy, which is currently running on Broadway. McCraney is the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, the Whiting Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, the Evening Standard Award, the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, the Windham Campbell Award, and a Doris Duke Artist Award. He is currently Chair of Playwriting at Yale School of Drama; an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre Chicago; and a member of Teo Castellanos/D-Projects. McCraney is currently working on an original scripted TV series, David Makes Man, for Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network, produced by Michael B. Jordan and Page Fright Productions.

Tina Landau an acclaimed writer, director and teacher, has been a Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble member since 1997. Her work at the theater includes The Doppelganger ( an international farce ), Head of Passes, The Brother/Sister Plays, The Wheel, The Tempest, Time of Your Life, The Cherry Orchard, The Diary of Anne Frank, Berlin Circle and her own play Space. On Broadway, Tina conceived and directed SpongeBob Squarepants — The Musical, as well as productions of Superior Donuts and Bells Are Ringing. Other work in NYC includes Old Hats ( Signature Theatre ); A Civil War Christmas ( New York Theatre Workshop ); WIG OUT!( Vineyard Theatre ); and the musical Floyd Collins ( Playwrights Horizons ) which she co-wrote. Tina teaches regularly at schools such as Yale and Columbia University and is the co-author, with Anne Bogart, of The Viewpoints Book.

About the Original Joan Jett Blakk

Terence Alan Smith, a Detroit native, called Chicago home from the late '70s to the early '90s when he worked as a fitness instructor, actor, political activist and drag performer at such clubs as Berlin and Lower Links. Smith was one of the founders of the Chicago chapter of Queer Nation, a political action group focused on queer issues at the height of the AIDS crisis. In 1990, Queer Nation asked Smith to run for Mayor, as his drag persona Joan Jett Blakk, against Richard Daley. The goal of Joan Jett Blakk's campaign was never to win the election but to garner as much media attention as possible for Chicago's queer community and the AIDS epidemic. In 1992, on the Queer Nation Party ticket, Joan Jett Blakk ran for President of the United States. Shortly after, Smith moved to San Francisco and joined the performance group Pomo Afro Homos, launched his talk show, Late Nite with Joan Jett Blakk, and continued to run for office. He still resides in San Francisco today.

New Casting

Jos N Banks ( Joan Jett Blakk ) Steppenwolf Debut! Tours: International - Kinky Boots ( Lola ), Hair ( Hud ), The Purple ( Harpo ). Regional: Jesus Christ Superstar ( Paramount Theatre ), Smokey Joe's Cafe ( Drury Lane Theatre ), The Scottsboro Boys ( Porchlight Music Theatre ), DDR Scottsboro Boys ( Raven Theatre ). WINNER of StageScene LA's "Scenie" Award for "Break Out Performance in a Touring Production" as Lola in Kinky Boots & nominated Best Costume Designer for the 2012 & 2016 BTAA ( Black Theater Alliance Awards ). Jos would like to thank God, his family & friends for their love and support. Representation: Paonessa Talent Agency. www. FearlessJos.com // @JosNBanks

MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT production team includes David Zinn ( Scenic Design ), Toni-Leslie James ( Costume Design ), Heather Gilbert( Lighting Design ), Lindsay Jones ( Sound Design and Additional Music ), Rasean Davonte Johnson ( Projection Design ) and Gigi Buffington( Company Voice and Text Coach ). Additional credits include Christine D. Freeburg ( Stage Manager ), Kathleen Barrett ( Assistant Stage Manager ),JC Clementz ( Casting Director ) and Hallie Gordon ( Artistic Producer ).

Visitor Information

Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N Halsted St near all forms of public transportation, bike racks and Divvy bike stands. The parking facility ( $13 or $15, cash or card ) is located just south of our theater at 1624 N Halsted. Valet parking service ( $14 cash ) is available directly in front of the main entrance starting at 5pm on weeknights, 1pm on weekends and at 12noon before Wednesday matinees. Limited street and lot parking are also available. For last minute questions and concerns, patrons can call the Steppenwolf Parking Hotline at 312.335.1774.

Accessibility

Committed to making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to everyone, performances featuring American Sign Language Interpretation, Open Captioning and Audio Description are offered during the run of each play. Assistive listening devices and large-print programs are available for every performance and the Downstairs and 1700 Theatres are each equipped with an induction hearing loop. All theaters feature wheelchair accessible seating and restrooms, and Front Bar features a push-button entrance, all-gender restrooms and accessible counter and table spaces.

Sponsor Information

Lead support for this production of Ms. Blakk for President is provided by the NEA and the Joyce Foundation. ComEd is the 2018/19 Season Lighting Sponsor. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Steppenwolf.

Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks

Connected to the main lobby is Steppenwolf's own Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, offering a warm, creative space to grab a drink, have a bite, or meet up with friends and collaborators, day or night. Front Bar serves unique craft cocktails, beer and wine, and locally roasted coffee and espresso by Passion House Coffee Roasters. Featuring food by The Goddess and Grocer, the menu offers salads and sandwiches for lunch and shareable small plates for evening and post show service. Front Bar is open every Tuesday — Sunday and for Monday night performances. www.front-bar.com .

Year of Chicago Theatre

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is proud to be part of the 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, presented by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theatres. To truly fall in love with Chicago, you must go to our theatres. This is where the city bares its fearless soul. Home to a community of creators, risk-takers, and big hearts, Chicago theatre is a hotbed for exciting new work and hundreds of world premieres every year. From Broadway musicals to storefront plays and improv, there's always a seat waiting for you at one of our 200+ theatres. Book your next show today at hhttps://chicagoplays.com/.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation's premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble members represent a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead and August: Osage Countyto Pass Over and Downstate—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programing includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago's diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. 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. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf's Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr .

—From a press release


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