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The First Look playwrights: Joshua Conkel, Tanya Saracho and Martyna Majok. Image courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

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First Look 2014

Through August 24, 2014

The Garage [website]
1624 North Halsted, Chicago, IL

Join the Steppenwolf ensemble this summer in the Garage Theatre for an energizing repertory of never-before-seen work. Now in its ninth season, First Look showcases plays and playwrights that we think will have significant impact on American theater for years to come.

The Plays

Ironbound
By Martyna Majok
Directed by Daniella Topol

Waiting for a bus in a run-down New Jersey town, Darja—a Polish immigrant—gives her cheating boyfriend a long-deserved tongue-lashing. She’s done talking about feelings; it’s time to talk money. Over the course of three relationships spanning 22 years, Darja negotiates for her future with men who can offer her love or security, but never both. Martyna Majok’s Ironbound is a clear-eyed, compassionate portrait of a woman for whom love might not be enough.

Hushabye
By Tanya Saracho
Directed by ensemble member Yasen Peyankov

With crackling dialogue and heartfelt humor, Tanya Saracho explores what it takes to repair family relationships—especially when you share the blame for the damage. Erika is crazy desperate for her own apartment: so much so that she’ll take one sight unseen. Anything to escape Cynthia and Brian, her overprotective sister and her controlling brother-in-law. To be fair, Cynthia has reason to worry. Erika just left rehab and her definition of sobriety is, well…flexible. As Erika fights for her independence, she realizes that kicking the pills was just her first challenge.

Okay, Bye
By Joshua Conkel (TH '03)
Directed by Margot Bordelon (TH '02)

At an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, two thirty-somethings recognize each other from their high school days. Back then, they didn’t have much in common: Meg was an “alternative” and Jenny was a “Goody-Goody.” But now both their lives are on the brink of implosion. Jenny, sure that Meg’s bleak, sardonic humor is just a front, insists that a slumber party is the answer to all their problems. But it’s not the 90’s anymore, and it might take more than pedicures and Pretty in Pink to fuel a friendship that makes life worth living.

The Readings

American Beauty Shop
By Dana Lynn Formby
Directed by Marti Lyons

It’s hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps in this economy—Sue should know. It’s harder when you’ve got kids, even whip-smart, talented ones like Judy. Sue has big dreams for both her basement beauty shop and her daughter, who’s anxiously waiting for a letter from Berkeley that could change her life. Armed with tough love, combative humor and an uncompromising work ethic, Sue is struggling to balance her own livelihood and Judy’s future. A heartfelt play about the true cost of dreams.

American Beauty Shop reading: Friday, August 8 at 2:30pm

Opium Den
By Julie Marie Myatt
Directed by Jessica Thebus

What could bring a privileged heroin addict and a decorated war veteran together? At first glance, Lizzie is a bored housewife who made selfish decisions, and Mac is a hero of the war in Afghanistan. Matthew—Lizzie’s brother and the photojournalist that made Mac famous—has reluctantly agreed to let them crash at his squalid apartment. As Matthew’s colleagues nose around for a newsworthy scoop, Lizzie and Mac desperately attempt to take control of the stories told about them. Spiked with hard-nosed humor, Opium Den offers a glimpse into an impromptu halfway house for people who can’t find their way home.

Opium Den reading: Sunday, August 10 at 11am