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Opening Night

Anna D. Shapiro begins her tenure at the helm of Steppenwolf Theatre with a bold world premiere.

BY THE BOOKS
Anna D. Shapiro in front of Steppenwolf’s famed wall of scripts

"I’m as excited as anyone else—I’m just not sure it’s for the same reasons,” says Anna D. Shapiro at the start of our conversation. We’re discussing the just-about-to-open Mary Page Marlowe, a world premiere from the theater’s 40th anniversary season. It has the dream team of Tracy Letts as writer and Shapiro as director—the same duo that produced August: Osage County, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. “I absolutely love being in the rehearsal room with Tracy. There’s just something really harmonious about how we deal with one another—probably because our partnership predates anyone ever paying attention to either of us,” she adds with a laugh. On top of the pressure of directing a play that comes with built-in audience expectations, Shapiro simultaneously worked with the artistic team as well as Steppenwolf’s 44 ensemble members to come up with an ambitious and full schedule for 2016-17. The subscription schedule features three world premieres and three Chicago premieres—plus a seventh summer show, Pass Over by Antoinette Nwandu—and for the audience who also wants smaller and experimental works, Steppenwolf is debuting an 80-seat black box theater at 1700 N. Halsted St., called, appropriately, 1700 Theatre. It will house a new series called Lookout as well as host emerging theater companies’ new works. “It feels like a lot and like we’re right out there on the cusp and edge of what’s happening in theater,” Shapiro says. “It’s very exciting.” Through May 29, tickets $20-$89, 1650 N. Halsted St., 312.335.1650

SHAPIRO'S HOTS
Taking my kids to school in the morning, Cindy’s Rooftop

SHAPIRO'S NOTS
Texting while driving, iceberg lettuce salads without blue cheese: What’s the point?

Styling by Annie Peck for Annie Frances Style Consulting; Hair by Kathy Mihailova for Teddie Kossof; makeup by Susan Staley for Dorothy & Delora