Steppenwolf Theatre to host Gala featuring Armie Hammer and James Franco

Steppenwolf Theatre to host Gala featuring Armie Hammer and James Franco
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Steppenwolf Theatre to host Gala featuring Armie Hammer and James Franco

Armie Hammer to Emcee Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s 2019 Gala Saturday, May 11, 2019. James Franco Guest Auctioneer at This Unforgettable Event Celebrating 43 Years of Extraordinary Theatre

CHICAGO (April 16, 2019) – The acclaimed Steppenwolf ensemble and Board of Trustees host Gala 2019, an extraordinary evening celebrating over four decades of powerful and thought-provoking storytelling. Emceed by one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actors, Armie Hammer (Sorry to Bother You, Call Me By Your Name), the party takes place on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 6:30 pm at a new location not far from the theater, Rockwell on the River (3057 N. Rockwell Ave). Golden Globe Winner James Franco (The Disaster Artist, 127 Hours) will be the guest auctioneer. Proceeds from the night generate essential resources to support the innovative new work on Steppenwolf’s spaces and expansive education and community programs.

Gala 2019 co-chairs include ensemble member Kate Arrington and Michael Shannon, Armie Hammer and Elizabeth Chambers, Pam and trustee Dennis D. Howarter, trustee Mary and Bill Ludford, along with ensemble members Sandra Marquez and Tarell Alvin McCraney.

The unforgettable night, curated by Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro and the Steppenwolf ensemble, begins with a unique opportunity to mingle with ensemble members and artists during a festive cocktail reception before moving on to a gourmet seated dinner. Star of screen and stage Armie Hammer, who recently performed in Straight White Men on Broadway directed by Shapiro, will entertain guests as the evening’s emcee. A live auction with guest auctioneer James Franco will feature priceless experiences. Concluding the evening will be live music by Chicago Soul Spectacular keeping the party going until midnight.

Armie Hammer. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Armie Hammer. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

“With the recent groundbreaking on our remarkable new campus and education center, along with the announcement of the thrilling 2019/20 season, there is so much to celebrate and look forward to. In this beautiful new venue by the water, we will raise our glasses to the journey that has led us here and the exciting future ahead,” shares Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro.

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Single tickets start at $1,500 and tables for 2019 Gala are currently available by contacting Steppenwolf’s Special Events Department at 312-654-5632 or specialevents@steppenwolf.org.

Gala lead sponsor is PwC with additional sponsorship from Allstate, The Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation, Exelon, Grosvenor Capital Management, Eric and Liz Lefkofsky, Pritzker Traubert Foundation and Official and Exclusive Airline Partner, United.

James Franco is a multi-hyphenate actor, director, producer, author. He began receiving critical acclaim early on in his career, winning a Golden Globe for his portrayal of James Dean in TNT’s 2001 biopic. He won his second Golden Globe in 2018 for his role in The Disaster Artist, which he also directed and produced. His convincing performance also earned him a Critics Choice Award, a Gotham Award, nominations for Screen Actors Guild and Independent Spirit Awards, as well as several other accolades from film critics around the world. Based on the book of the same name, the film recounts the making of The Room, a cult classic now known as “the best worst movie ever made.” The film debuted at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival, garnered fantastic reviews after screening at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and was nominated for several awards including a Golden Globe, eventually taking the win for Best Film at the San Sebastián International Film Festival. The film features Franco alongside a stellar cast including Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Bryan Cranston.

He has been recognized with countless award nominations for both his comedic and dramatic work, including Pineapple Express (Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor), Spring Breakers and 127 Hours, the lattermost for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Franco also recently took his talents to HBO with the premiere of The Deuce, a series about the emergence of porn in NYC during the 1970s and ‘80s. He is currently working on the third season of the show, which he produces with David Simon. Here Franco takes on the dual role of twins “Vincent” and “Frankie Martino.”  Franco also served as director for-two of the eight episodes in the first season and season 2 premiered last fall. He also starred in Ethan and Joel Coen’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival and went on to receive awards recognition.

He began his career on the fan-favorite TV series Freaks and Geeks, opposite friend and frequent collaborator Seth Rogen. The two have teamed up for some of the most beloved comedies of the past decade, including Pineapple Express, This Is The End and The Interview. Franco’s international success came by way of his role as “Harry Osborn” in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy. Shortly after wrapping the final installment, he returned to UCLA to complete his bachelor’s degree in creative writing. He went on to receive MFAs from Columbia, NYU, RISD and Brooklyn College before enrolling at Yale University for his Ph.D., all while continuing to balance his acting and directing career.

Franco’s commercial success has continued through the years with blockbuster films like Oz the Great and Powerful and Why Him. He returned to the small screen in 2016 for the well-received limited series 11.22.63,which he produced with J.J. Abrams. He is also an Emmy-nominated producer for his digital sketch series Making a Scene, the third season of which premieres this year.

In addition to his film and educational work, Franco is a successful author with several books published to date.

Armie Hammer received an Independent Spirit Award and Golden Globe nomination for his role in Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name, opposite Timothee Chalamet. The film premiered to rave reviews at Sundance 2017, before going onto the awards circuit later that year. The film earned BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. Sony Pictures Classics released the film on November 24, 2017.

Hammer can currently be seen in Anthony Maras’ film Hotel Mumbai, alongside Dev Patel. The film is based on the terrorist attack which took place at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in India by Pakistani militants. The film first premiered at The Toronto International Film Festival this past September.

Hammer can recently be seen starring in Mimi Leder’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic, On The Basis of Sex, opposite Felicity Jones. Hammer portrays the role of Ginsburg’s husband, Martin. Focus Features released the film December 25th.

He will soon be seen in Babak Anvari’s Wounds, opposite Dakota Johnson, which debuted at Sundance in January. The film is based on the novella The Visible Filth by Nathan Ballingrud.

Hammer is currently in production on Nicholas Jarecki’s Dreamland, alongside Gary Oldman and Evangeline Lilly.

In 2018, Hammer appeared in Boots Riley’s film Sorry To Bother You. Annapurna purchased the film following its debut at Sundance and later released it July 6th. The cast also includes Tessa Thompson, Lakeith Stanfield and Omari Hardwick.

In July 2018, Hammer made his Broadway debut in the Anna D. Shapiro helmed production of Straight White Men, which opened at the Helen Hayes Theater. The cast also includes Josh Charles, Ty Defoe and Paul Schneider.

In 2017, Hammer voiced the role of “Jackson Storm” for Pixar’s Cars 3. He also starred in Ben Wheatley’s film Free Fire alongside Cillian Murphy and Brie Larson. The film premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, earning the People’s Choice Award for ‘Midnight Madness’ and A24 released the film on April 21st.

In 2016, Hammer appeared in Tom Ford’s critically acclaimed film Nocturnal Animals alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon. Focus Features released the film on November 18, 2016.

In 2015, Hammer starred with Henry Cavill in the spy thriller The Man from U.N.C.L.E., playing Russian spy Illya Kuryakin and American agent Napoleon Solo, respectively. The film was released by Warner Brothers on August 14, 2015.

In 2013, Hammer starred as the title character in The Lone Ranger, alongside Johnny Depp, directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

Hammer earned a 2012 SAG Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Clyde Tolson in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar Hoover biopic J. Edgar, with a script by Dustin Lance Black.  Hammer starred opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. The film was released by Warner Brothers on November 11, 2011.

His performance as the Winklevoss twins in the award-winning film The Social Network garnered him critical praise and positioned him as one of Hollywood’s breakouts of 2010. Hammer was nominated Most Promising Performer by the Chicago Film Critics Association, and awarded Best Supporting Actor by the Toronto Film Critics Association. The film received a SAG nomination for Best Ensemble, as well as a Best Picture Golden Globe.  It was also recognized by both Los Angeles and New York Film Critics, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, National Board of Review and named one of the AFI’s Top 10 Films of the Year.

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 ChicagoPlays.com.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble represents 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 steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre, twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr and instagram.com/steppenwolfthtr.

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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."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.

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