Steppenwolf’s Chicago Premiere Production of Familiar

Steppenwolf’s Chicago Premiere Production of Familiar

Steppenwolf’s Chicago Premiere Production of Familiar

Written by Danai Gurira, Directed by Danya Taymor, Now Playing Through January 13, 2019

A Joy-Filled Comedy Featuring an All-Star Chicago Cast

CHICAGO (November 20, 2018) – Now playing in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre is the widely acclaimed comedy, Familiar written by Danai Gurira, star of “The Walking Dead”, Marvel Studios’ Black Panther and playwright of Eclipsed and The Convert. This Chicago premiere production is directed by Danya Taymor, who helmed Steppenwolf’s powerful 2017 production of Pass Over. Set in Minnesota, a Zimbabwean-American family prepares for the wedding of their eldest daughter in this engaging comedy featuring one of the newest Steppenwolf ensemble members Celeste M. Cooper (Nyasha) alongside veteran ensemble member Ora Jones (Marvelous Chinyaramwira) as mother and daughter. Joining them are Chicago favorites and Steppenwolf regulars Cheryl Lynn Bruce (Anne), Erik Hellman (Chris), Lanise Antoine Shelley, (Tendikayi), Luigi Sottile (Brad), Jacqueline Williams (Margaret Munyewa) and Cedric Young (Donald Chinyaramwira).

Familiar runs through January 13, 2019 in the Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St.Single tickets ($20-$109) are now on sale through Audience Services at 312-335-1650or 



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Steppenwolf’s Chicago Premiere Production of Familiar Written by Danai Gurira Directed by Danya Taymor Now Playing Through January 13, 2019

Steppenwolf’s Chicago Premiere Production of Familiar. Written by Danai Gurira. Directed by Danya Taymor. Now Playing Through January 13, 2019

It’s winter in Minnesota, and a Zimbabwean-American family is preparing for the wedding of their eldest daughter. When an unexpected guest arrives and the bride surprises the family by insisting on a traditional African ceremony, pre-wedding stress explodes into a full-on family feud. Funny, fast-paced and filled with love, Familiar is a brilliant portrayal of a tight-knit family searching to preserve their past while building a new future.

Familiar, a celebration at its core, invites us all to peer inside an African home in America. It also seeks to evoke a healing of the pains and wounds that plague most families,” shares playwright Danai Gurira.

Danai Gurira is an award-winning playwright and actress. As a playwright, her works include In the Continuum (OBIE Award, Outer Critics Award, Helen Hayes Award), Eclipsed (Tony Award Nomination: Best Play; NAACP Award; Helen Hayes Award: Best New Play; Connecticut Critics Circle Award: Outstanding Production of a Play), and The Convert (six Ovation Awards, Los Angeles Outer Critics Award). Her newest play, Familiar, received its world premiere at Yale Rep in 2015, and premiered in New York at Playwrights Horizons in February of 2016. She is a recipient of the Sam Norkin Award at the 2016 Drama Desk Awards, a Whiting Award, a Hodder Fellow, and has been commissioned by Yale Rep, Center Theatre Group, Playwrights Horizons, and the Royal Court.

As an actor, Danai Gurira was most recently seen in Marvel’s blockbuster phenomenonBlack Panther as “General Okoye” and reprised the role in another blockbuster sensationAvengers: Infinity War in April 2018. Gurira currently starts as “Michonne” on AMC’s The Walking Dead (NAACP Image Award nomination). Other select acting credits include the films All Eyez on Me (NAACP Image Award nomination), The Visitor, Mother of George and the NYS&F’s Measure for Measure (Equity Callaway Award.) Gurira is currently adapting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Americanah into a miniseries.

Born in the US to Zimbabwean parents and raised in Zimbabwe, she holds an M.F.A. from Tisch, NYU and serves as an ambassador for Bono’s ONE campaign. She is also the founder of, an awareness-building campaign focused on the plights of women and girls around the globe; and the co-founder of Almasi Arts, which works to give access and opportunity to the African Dramatic Artist. Twitter/Instagram: @danaigurira. Facebook: @DanaiGuriraOfficial.

Steppenwolf is delighted to honor Danai Gurira at the 10th anniversary of Steppenwolf Women in the Arts fundraising luncheon on Monday, December 10, 2018 at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel at 12noon. Ms. Gurira joins Steppenwolf Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro for an exciting conversation about her on-stage and on-screen acting career, award-winning plays and her impact as a leader in her industry. Funds raised support the work of Steppenwolf’s professional development and education programs. Co-chairs of the 10th Anniversary Women in the Arts luncheon are Stephanie B Smith and Helen Zell. United Airlines is the Official and Exclusive Airline Partner of Steppenwolf. For tickets to Women in the Arts or more information, contact Steppenwolf’s Special Events Department at 312-654-5632 or

Production Team
Familiar production team features Kristen Robinson (Scenic Design); Ntokozo Fuzunina Kunene (Costume Design); Marcus Doshi (Lighting Design); Justin Ellington (Sound Design and Musical Direction); Gigi Buffington (Company Voice & Text Coach); Somi (Composer); Michelle Lopez-Rios (Dialect Coach); Sasha Smith (Intimacy Consultant); Malcolm Ewen (Production Stage Manager); Mary Hungerford (Asst. Stage Manager); JC Clementz (Casting Director) and Hallie Gordon (Artistic Producer).

Ticket and Production Details
Familiar began previews November 15, 2018 and runs through January 13, 2019 in the Downstate Theatre. Opening night is Monday, November 26 at 7pm. The production closes on January 13, 2019. Curtain Times: Tuesday – Friday at 7:30pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm and 7:30pm. Calendar enclosed.
Ticket prices and offers:
Regular Run
: $20 – $109. Prices subject to change
20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available on the day of the performance at 11am
(Mon – Sat) and 1pm (Sun) by phone only at 312-335-1650. Limit 2 per person.
Rush Tickets: Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show.

Pit Seats: Experience the show up close at an affordable price. Pit seating consists of two rows of hard shell chairs, located directly in front of the stage. These seats are 9-inches lower than Steppenwolf’s “Row A”, where Steppenwolf’s standard theater seating begins.

Student Discounts: Limited $15 student tickets are available online. (Limit 2 tickets. Must present a valid student ID for each ticket)
Group Tickets: All groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance.
Memberships: Get insider access, great seats and the ultimate flexibility. For more info on the variety of ways to become a member, visit

**Special Membership Offer: Get 5-Play Membership before November 30th and receive two free tickets to any Main Series play.

Audience Services: To purchase a membership or tickets or for more information, contact Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St) at 312-335-1650 or

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 ($12 or $14, 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.


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. Accessible Performances: American Sign Language Interpretation: Sunday, December 9 at 7:30pm. Open Captioning: Thursday, December 13 at 7:30pm and Saturday, December 29 at 3pm. Audio Description and Touch Tour: Sunday, December 23 at 1:30pm touch tour; 3pm audio-described performance.

Sponsor Information

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. Open Tuesdays – Sundays from 8am to midnight, Front Bar serves artisanal coffee and espresso is provided by La Colombe and food prepared by Goddess and Grocer. The menu focuses on fresh, accessible fare, featuring grab-and-go salads and sandwiches for lunch and adding shareable small plates and desserts for evening and post show service.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble of 49 members represent a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County and Pass Over—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,,

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

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