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LAST NIGHT AND THE NIGHT BEFORE Cast Announced at Steppenwolf Theater Company


Steppenwolf Theater Company continues its 47th season with the Chicago premiere of Donnetta Lavinia Grays’ Last Night and the Night Before, a powerful poetic exploration of what it takes to create a future out of a past you long to forget. Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, Last Night and the Night Before will run from April 6 to May 14, 2023 at Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. in Chicago. The press opening is on Sunday, April 16 at 6 pm.

Last Night and the Night Before will feature ensemble member Namir Smallwood with Ayanna Bria Bakari, Sydney Charles, Aliyana Hamood, Kylah Renee Jones and Jessica Dean Turner.

Monique is on the run. From what, she will not say. Appearing on the doorstep of her sister’s Brooklyn brownstone with her shy daughter Sam, and without her husband, her arrival raises more questions than it answers. As the specter of their abandoned life in Georgia reappears, the family is forced to consider what must be sacrificed to break a cycle of despair. Poetic and heartbreaking, Donnetta Lavinia Grays’ stunning portrayal of Black Love explores what it takes to nurture family in an often cruel world.

Single tickets for Last Night and the Night Before starting at $20 are on sale now at and at the box office at (312) 335-1650.

Steppenwolf 2022-23 Flex memberships are currently on sale: Black Card memberships with six tickets to use at any time for any production, and Red Card memberships for theatergoers under 30.

Performance Details:

last night and the night before

By Donnetta Lavinia Grays

Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton

Featuring ensemble member Namir Smallwood (Reggie) with Ayanna Bria Bakari (Monique), Sydney Charles (Rachel), Aliyana Hamood (Sam), Kylah Renee Jones (Sam) and Jessica Dean Turner (Nadima).

At Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago

April 6 – May 14, 2023

Press opening: Sunday, April 16 at 6:00 p.m.

Ticket Information: Individual tickets ($20 – $88) are on sale now at and at the box office at (312) 335-1650.

The creative team includes Regina Garcia (Scenic Design), Izumi Inaba (Costume Design), Mary Louise Geiger (Lighting Design), Larry Fowler (Sound Design), Kirsten Baity (Intimacy Choreographer), Gigi Buffington (Intimacy Trainer), company voice and text), Tom Pearl (production manager), JC Clementz, CSA (casting director), Laura D. Glenn (production stage manager), and Jaclynn Joslin (assistant stage manager). For full cast and creative team biographies, visit–events/seasons-/2022-23/last-night-and-the-night-before/.


Artist Biographies:

Donnetta Lavinia Grays

(playwright) is the author of Where We Stand (Lucille Lortel, Drama League and AUDELCO Award nominee), Last Night and the Night Before, Warriors Don’t Cry, Laid to Rest, and The Review or How to Eat Your Opposition. He received the Whiting Award for Drama, the Helen Merrill Playwright Award, the Stavis Playwright Award from the National Theater Conference, the Lilly Award, the Todd McNerney National Playwriting Award, and the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. For television, he has worked on Spectrum’s Manhunt, FX’s Y: The Last Man and served as Executive Story Editor on Joe vs. Carole for peacock. Broadway acting credits include The Skin of Our Teeth, In The Next Room or the Play Vibrator and Well. Off-Broadway: Where We Stand (WP Theatre/Baltimore Centerstage), Men on Boats (Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb) O, Earth (The Foundry Theatre), In the Footprint (The Civilians, as Associate Artist) and Shipwrecked! An entertainment (primary stages). Movie: The Book of Henry, Wild Canaries, The English Teacher and The Wrestler. TV: Recurring roles on New Amsterdam, Happy, Rubicon, Mercy, and Law and Order: SVU. And guest star roles on High Maintenance, The Night Of, Blue Bloods, The Blacklist, A Gifted Man, Law & Order, Law & Order: CI and The Sopranos.

Valerie Curtis-Newton

(Director) is currently Director of Directing at the University of Washington School of Drama and serves as the Founding Artistic Director of The Hansberry Project, a laboratory of professional African American theater. He has worked with professional theaters across the country including: The Guthrie Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Seattle Rep, Playmakers Repertory Company, Actors’ Theater of Louisville, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum. , New York Theater Workshop and Southern Repertory Theatre, among others. Awards: 2020: Seattle Times Most Influential People of the Last Decade; 2019: Theater Puget Sound – Gregory Falls Award for Sustained Achievement; 2016: Seattle Times Footlight Award (Best in Show); 2014: Stranger Genius Awards in Performance and Crosscut Courage Award for Culture; 2012: Gypsy Rose Lee Award for Excellence in Directing; 2001: Gielgud Conducting Scholarship from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF); 1997-1999: NEA/TCG Career Development Scholarship for Directors.

The Expanded Steppenwolf Campus

Steppenwolf Theater Company’s pioneering new 50,000-square-foot theater and education building, the Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, was designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill FAIA of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, with construction from Norcon. The centerpiece of the new Center for Arts and Education is the new 400-seat Helen Zell Honoring Ensemble Theater, the only one of its kind in Chicago, with theater design and acoustics by Charcoalblue.

The expanded Steppenwolf campus is a cultural nexus for Chicago, offering bold and ambitious opportunities for creative expression, social sharing, unparalleled accessibility, and arts-based learning for Chicago’s youth at The Loft, the first educational space dedicated to Steppenwolf. The campus expansion also features bright new lobbies and two new full-service bars for socializing designed by fc STUDIO, inc. The new $54 million building is part of Steppenwolf’s $73 million multi-phase Building on Excellence expansion campaign. Learn more about the Steppenwolf campus expansion at

a safe return

As the Chicago theater community continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Steppenwolf Theater remains committed to the safety of its patrons and staff. For the most up-to-date information on our venue’s COVID precautions, visit


Steppenwolf offers accessible services to ensure all audience members have access to our work, including American Sign Language interpretation, Spanish subtitles, wheelchair accessible seating, and more. If you have questions, please email [email protected]

Steppenwolf Theater Company is a Chicago theater that is home to the American ensemble. The troupe began performing in the mid-1970s in a Highland Park, IL church basement; today Steppenwolf is the country’s leading theater ensemble with 49 members who are among the best actors, playwrights and directors in the field. Deeply rooted in its team spirit, the company is committed to equity, diversity, inclusion and making the Steppenwolf experience accessible to all. Groundbreaking productions of Balm in Gilead and August: Osage County to Downstate and Pass Over, and accolades including the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony® Awards, have made the theater legendary. The artistic programming includes a season on the main stage; a season of Steppenwolf for Young Adults; LookOut, a series of multi-genre shows; and the virtual stage Steppenwolf NOW. Steppenwolf Education’s nationally recognized work engages more than 20,000 participants annually in Chicago communities that promote compassion, foster curiosity and inspire action. While firmly rooted in the Chicago community, more than 40 original Steppenwolf productions have been successful nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. 2021 marked the opening of Steppenwolf’s historic Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Center for the Arts and Education, deepening the company’s commitment to Chicagoland teens and serving as a cultural nexus for Chicago. Glenn Davis and Audrey Francis are the Art Directors and E. Brooke Flanagan is the Executive Director. Keating Crown is Chairman of the Board of Steppenwolf.

Steppenwolf’s Mission: Steppenwolf strives to create exciting, courageous and provocative art in a thoughtful and inclusive environment. We succeed when we break your routine with experiences that arouse curiosity, empathy, and joy. We invite you to join our ensemble as we navigate our complex world together.,, and