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Tribes set for Steppenwolf Theatre
Nov 16, 2013

TribesRehearsals are underway for Steppenwolf Theatre Company's highly anticipated Chicago-premiere production of Tribes by Nina Raine, following the hit Off-Broadway production in 2012. Ensemble member Austin Pendleton is at the helm of what The Wall Street Journal hailed as "the best-written, best-plotted, deepest, most daring-and funniest-new play in recent years." The cast of six features ensemble members Alana Arenas, Francis Guinan and Molly Regan with Steve Haggard, Helen Sadler, and John McGinty in the central role of Billy; McGinty joins the cast direct from Guthrie Theater's production in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Tribes begins previews December 5, 2013 (opening night is December 15; press performances are December 14 at 3pm and December 17 at 7:30pm) and runs through February 9, 2014 in Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theatre (1650 N Halsted St). Tickets ($20 - 82) are on sale now at

Billy's intellectual and proudly eccentric English family is its own tiny empire: private languages, in-jokes and fiery arguments. Billy, deaf since birth (McGinty, also deaf since birth), is the only one who truly listens. When he meets his girlfriend Sylvia (Arenas), he is introduced to a larger Deaf community, which sparks a struggle for self-identity and rebellion against his family. Tribes is a sharp, witty story about finding the place where you can be heard-and a family that feels like home.

"When I first read Tribes, I knew immediately that we must produce it here at Steppenwolf. I think the play speaks to all of us. It doesn't matter that our family might not include a person who is hard of hearing. The huge struggle in every family, it seems to me, is how to balance the cohesion of our 'tribe' and the imperative of individuality," notes Artistic Director Martha Lavey. "We are deeply and uniquely known in family. We are also, I would suggest, our own great mystery there."

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is strongly committed to making all subscription and Steppenwolf for Young Adults productions accessible by offering American Sign Language-interpreted, open-captioned and audio-described performances, available for $20 for patrons utilizing these programs and their guests. Steppenwolf was named Best Accessible Theatre by the membership of Deaf Illinois in 2011, and was nominated again in 2013 for these efforts. For Tribes, Steppenwolf builds on this foundation by presenting eight additional performances featuring ASL interpretation or open captioning, donating tickets to area Deaf and hard-of-hearing organizations, and adding captioning for online video content. The Tribes Outreach Committee, chaired by Equip for Equality attorney Rachel Arfa, was also formed to address the opportunities presented by this production.

The cast of Tribes features ensemble members Alana Arenas as Sylvia; Francis Guinan as Christopher; and Molly Regan as Beth; with Steve Haggard as Daniel; John McGinty as Billy; and Helen Sadler as Ruth.

The production team for Tribes includes: Walt Spangler (scenic design), Rachel Anne Healy (costume design), Keith Parham (lighting design), Josh Schmidt (sound design and original music) and John Boesche (projection design). Additional credits include: Erica Daniels (casting), Michelle Medvin (stage manager) and Christine D. Freeburg (assistant stage manager).

Tickets to Tribes ($20 - $82) are on sale now through Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St), 312-335-1650 and 20 for $20: twenty $20 tickets are available through Audience Services beginning at 11am on the day of each performance (1pm for Sunday performances). Rush Tickets: half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show. Student Discounts: a limited number of $15 student tickets are available online. Limit 2 tickets per student; must present a valid student ID for each ticket. For additional student discounts, visit Group Tickets: all groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance throughout the season. For additional information, visit

United is the Presenting Sponsor of Tribes. Allstate and Northern Trust are the Corporate Production Co-Sponsor of Tribes. Tribes is supported by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

Free post-show discussions are offered after every performance in the Subscription Season. Steppenwolf is located near all forms of public transportation and is wheelchair accessible. Street and lot parking are available. Assistive listening devices and large-print programs are available for every performance.

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