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Live Arts Artist News: This Guy is Going to Assistant Direct at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre

Posted May 26th, 2009

Congrats to Alex Torra, who’s headed to Steppenwolf Theatre Company to assistant direct their production of Up. In collaboration with Steppenwolf, the Princess Grace Foundation, which funds scholarships, apprenticeships, and fellowships to dance and theater artists, awarded Alex a new grant taking him to Chicago.

Steppenwolf is a highly collaborative ensemble-based theater that regularly produces some of the best plays in the country. When I lived in Chicago, I had the chance to see (and adored) their 2000 production of novelist Don DeLillo’s play Valparaiso. From around the same time, everybody loved Orson’s Shadow, written by ensemble member Austin Pendleton, which ultimately headed to New York’s Barrow Street Theatre in 2005 for a highly acclaimed run. Their production of August: Osage County ultimately won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and for the same play, director Anna D. Shapiro won a Tony Award. Alex will be assistant directing under Shapiro; one of the cast members he’ll work with is Martha Lavey, who’s served as the artistic director of Steppenwolf since 1995.

Alex first appeared with Pig Iron Theatre (Welcome to Yuba City) in Anodyne in 2001, and an earlier grant from the Princess Grace Foundation reconnected him to Pig Iron in 2007. The June 26 performance of Up, which is both written and directed by past Award-winners, will serve as a benefit for the foundation.

Quick aside: When I was in Chicago, I would sometimes hit up Vinci, the excellent rustic Italian restaurant hosting the pre-show reception and dinner. This blogger, at least, gives it a hearty recommendation.

Up runs June 18 through August 23 at Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre.

–Nicholas Gilewicz

Photo courtesy of Pig Iron.