Tickets now on sale for Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s
world premiere production of
By ensemble member Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Tony and Obie Award winner Kenny Leon
March 3 – April 10, 2022
New! 4-Play Deal for $150 includes King James,
ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy,
Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool and
ensemble member Yasen Peyankov’s adaptation of Seagull
opening the new in-the-round Ensemble Theater
CHICAGO (January 25, 2022)—Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the nation’s premier ensemble theater company, presents its world premiere production of King James by ensemble member Rajiv Joseph, staged by acclaimed Tony and Obie Award-winning director Kenny Leon in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theater, March 3–April 10, 2022 (opening March 13). Featuring ensemble member and Artistic Director Glenn Davis alongside Chris Perfetti (ABC-TV’s “Abbott Elementary”), this fast-paced, witty and deeply felt comedy is the story of an unlikely friendship forged by fandom, told through the lens of “King” LeBron James’ career and legacy. The two friends’ shared love of basketball and verbal games of one-on-one help them navigate the hopes, desires and fears they have bottled up since childhood.
Single tickets to King James ($20 – $88) go on sale this Friday, January 28 at 12 p.m. CT at steppenwolf.org and 312-335-1650. Steppenwolf members get single ticket access starting today. King James is co-commissioned and co-produced by Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Center Theatre Group.
Additionally, Steppenwolf announced today a new 4-Play Deal for $150 that includes King James, Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool (April 28–May 22), ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy (June 16–July 24), and ensemble member Yasen Peyankov’s adaptation of Seagull, which opens Steppenwolf’s new in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell this spring (April 28–June 12). The 4-Play Deal is now available at steppenwolf.org/4for150 and 312-335-1650.
King James is the latest play from Cleveland native Rajiv Joseph, who burst onto the American theatre scene with Pulitzer Prize finalist Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which had its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2009 before going on to Broadway in 2011—where Glenn Davis starred in the production alongside Robin Williams. Joseph and Davis formed a strong friendship and working partnership that grew from that production.
Playwright and ensemble member Rajiv Joseph shares, “I have always been interested in how sports intersects with our personal and spiritual lives. As a child, growing up in Cleveland, I had to manage a lot of heartbreak and disappointment brought on by the struggles of our local teams, but I still loved how sports brought people together, and how the shared love of a team or an athlete could foster connection and community. I started writing King James to explore those feelings, but, as I wrote it, I became fascinated by something else that I think I always knew, but had never put into words…which is that certain people (more often than not, young men) who struggle to express their feelings, are able to do so by talking about sports. Which is to say, the debates, arguments and impassioned pleas of rabid fans can often be decoded to reveal something deeper, that has nothing to do with sports.”
“I’m thrilled to return to the Steppenwolf stage for the first time in three years for King James,” says Artistic Director Glenn Davis. “Rajiv and I bonded during Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo on Broadway and have been close collaborators ever since. He is a master of the two-person play so when he came to me with the idea for this play, a funny and sincere meditation on friendship, I was compelled to say ‘yes’ instantly. I feel very fortunate to go on this journey with King James and I think Steppenwolf audiences are going to love this incredible and relatable new work by one of America’s premier writers.”
Steppenwolf is one of 70+ Chicagoland performing arts venues that have agreed upon COVID-19 vaccination and mask requirements for all audiences, artists and staff. For the most up-to-date policies at Steppenwolf, visit steppenwolf.org/welcomeback.
By ensemble member Rajiv Joseph
Directed by Tony and Obie Award winner Kenny Leon
Featuring ensemble member and Artistic Director Glenn Davis alongside Chris Perfetti
In Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theater
March 3 – April 10, 2022
Press openings: Sunday, March 13 at 6 p.m.; Tuesday, March 15 at 8 p.m.
Co-commissioned and co-produced by Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Center Theatre Group.
“King” LeBron James’s reign in Cleveland brings promise, prosperity and renewal to a city in desperate need of all three. It also brings together two unlikely friends in a bond forged by fandom. Told over 12 years (from LeBron’s rookie season to an NBA Championship), King James is an intimate exploration of the place that sports occupy in our lives and relationships.
Ensemble member Rajiv Joseph’s clever and fast-paced comedy traces the arcs of two friends whose turbulent relationship is best navigated through their shared love of basketball—and the endless amiable arguments that erupt from that love. All the while, the promise and burden of LeBron’s talent and legacy loom large.
Ticket information: Single tickets ($20 – $88) go on sale to the general public this Friday, January 28th at 12 p.m. Receive a great deal and get access to all four remaining shows of the season with the new 4-Play offer for $150 that also includes Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool (April 28–May 22), ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy (June 16–July 24), and ensemble member Yasen Peyankov’s adaptation of Seagull, which opens Steppenwolf’s new in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell this spring (April 28–June 12).
4-Plays for $150 is available starting today, and single tickets to King James and the remaining 21/22 show go on sale beginning Friday, January 28 at 12 p.m. CT at steppenwolf.org and 312-335-1650.
King James creative team includes Todd Rosenthal (Scenic Design); Samantha C. Jones (Costume Design); Lee Fiskness (Lighting Design); Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (Sound Design); Polly Hubbard (Dramaturg); Gigi Buffington (Company Voice and Text Coach); Tom Pearl (Director of Production); JC Clementz, CSA (Casting Director); Laura D. Glenn (Production Stage Manager); and Jaclynn Joslin (Assistant Stage Manager). For full cast and creative team bios, visit steppenwolf.org/kingjames.
The Expanded Steppenwolf Campus
Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s trailblazing new 50,000 square foot theater building and education center, the Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, was designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill FAIA of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, with construction by Norcon. The centerpiece of the new Arts and Education Center is the new 400-seat in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell—one of its kind in Chicago—with theater design and acoustics by Charcoalblue. The inaugural production in the Ensemble Theater will be ensemble member Yasen Peyankov’sextraordinarily funny and magical adaptation of Seagull, stacked with a cast of ensemble members (April 28–June 12, 2022).
The expanded Steppenwolf campus is a cultural nexus for Chicago, offering bold and ambitious opportunities for creative expression, social exchange, unparalleled accessibility, and arts-driven learning for Chicago youth in The Loft, Steppenwolf’s first-ever dedicated education space. The campus expansion also features bright new lobbies and two new full-service bars for socializing designed by fc STUDIO, inc. The $54 million new building is part of Steppenwolf’s multi-phase $73 million Building on Excellence expansion campaign. Learn more about Steppenwolf’s campus expansion atsteppenwolf.org/buildingonexcellence.
A Safe Return
Steppenwolf is part of the growing coalition of more than 70 Chicagoland performing arts venues and producers that have agreed upon COVID-19 vaccination and mask requirements for all audiences, artists and staff. Audience members must provide proof of vaccination in addition to wearing masks. Learn more about Steppenwolf’s guidelines at steppenwolf.org/welcomeback.
Steppenwolf has worked over the past year with our operations team, public health advisors and HVAC consultants to prepare its facility to safely welcome patrons back for performances. The addition of the new Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center has expanded the square footage of the lobbies to nearly twice the previous amount of space offered to guests. Two additional elevators and multiple stairways have also been added to Steppenwolf’s campus for ease of transition between seating levels. The HVAC systems have undergone upgrades to allow for increased filtration and a higher percentage of circulated fresh air across all three theaters.
Steppenwolf offers accessible services to ensure all audience members have access to our work, including American Sign Language interpretation (available for student matinees as scheduled with education staff or per public performances below), Spanish Language captions, wheelchair accessible seating and more. With questions, email [email protected].
King James is generously supported in part by PNC and the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline of Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf is also grateful for the significant season support from the Ralla Klepak Foundation for Education in the Performing Arts, Northern Trust, Allstate Insurance Company, ComEd, JPMorgan Chase, PNC, and Vinci Restaurant.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a Chicago theater that is home to America’s ensemble. The company began performing in the mid-1970s in the basement of a Highland Park, IL church—today Steppenwolf is the nation’s premier ensemble theater with 49 members who are among the top actors, playwrights and directors in the field. Deeply rooted in its ensemble ethos, the company is committed to equity, diversity, inclusion and making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to all. Groundbreaking productions from Balm in Gilead and August: Osage County to Downstate and Pass Over—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony® Awards—have made the theatre legendary. Artistic programming includes a main stage season; a Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; LookOut, a multi-genre performance series; and the Steppenwolf NOW virtual stage. The nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf Education engages more than 20,000 participants annually in Chicagoland communities promoting compassion, encouraging curiosity and inspiring action. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, more than 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. 2021 marks the opening of Steppenwolf’s landmark Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts & Education Center—deepening the company’s commitment to Chicagoland teens and serving as a cultural nexus for Chicago. Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis are the Artistic Directors and E. Brooke Flanagan is Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees.
Steppenwolf’s Mission: Steppenwolf strives to create thrilling, courageous and provocative art in a thoughtful and inclusive environment. We succeed when we disrupt your routine with experiences that spark curiosity, empathy and joy. We invite you to join our ensemble as we navigate, together, our complex world. steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.