Steppenwolf Theatre Company is continuing its 47th season with the world premiere of Vichet Chum’s Bald Sisters, a brazen, comic examination of the ties that bind multigenerational families of immigrants together. Directed by Jesca Prudencio, Bald Sisters will play December 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023 in Steppenwolf’s stunning new in-the-round Ensemble Theater in Honor of Helen Zell, the centerpiece of its recently unveiled Liz and Eric Lefkofsky Arts and Education Center, 1650 N. Halsted St. in Chicago. The press opening is Sunday, December 11 at 6 pm.
The cast of Bald Sisters includes Francesca Fernandez McKenzie, Coburn Goss, Wai Ching Ho, Jennifer Lim and Nima Rakhshanifar.
Ma is dead; now what happens? Vichet Chum’s world premiere follows two sisters – at odds since birth – as they settle the affairs of their strong-willed, wise-cracking mother while reconciling their family’s Cambodian heritage with its ever-so-complicated American present. Where’s the will? A burial or cremation? And what happens with Ma’s teeth? Bald Sisters is an irreverent, comic and ultimately poignant examination of the ties that bind multigenerational families of immigrants together: history, spirituality and humor.
Single tickets for Bald Sisters starting at $20 are now on sale at steppenwolf.org and the Box Office at 312-335-1650.
Vichet Chum (He/Him) is a Cambodian American playwright, theater maker, actor, and writer originally from Dallas, Texas and now living in New York City. His plays have been workshopped at Steppenwolf Theatre, Cleveland Play House, the Magic Theater, the Alley Theatre, the UCROSS Foundation, Fault Line Theatre, Crowded Outlet, Second Generation Productions, Weston Playhouse, Cleveland Public Theatre, All For One Theater, Amios, Florida State University, Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the New Harmony Project. He received the 2018-19 Princess Grace Award in Playwriting with New Dramatists and is a current board member for the New Harmony Project. Vichet has been a part of the Resident Working Farm Group at Space on Ryder Farm, the Interstate 73 Writer’s Group at Page 73 and the Ars Nova Play Group. Most recently, his play High School Play: A Nostalgia Fest had its world premiere at the Alley Theatr, and he is anticipating the world premiere of Bald Sisters (recipient of the 2021 Laurents/Hatcher Award and the 2021 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award) at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. He is currently working on commissions for Audible, Steppenwolf Theatre, Cleveland Play House, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre. He is a proud graduate of the University of Evansville (BFA) and Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company (MFA). He is represented theatrically by Beth Blickers at APA.
Broadway League Board Chair Lauren Reid, Lipica Shah, Pun Bandhu, American Theatre Wing Immediate Past Chair David Henry Hwang, Julienne Hanzelka Kim, Cindy Cheung, Kenneth Lee, Eileen Rivera and Vichet Chum at the 2022 Tony Honors Reception posing with the 2022 Special Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre Award for AAPAC at the Sofitel in New York on June 6, 2022. Photo by Lia ChangChum is a steering committee member of Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC), an organization that advocates for AAPI representation on NYC stages, which has garnered a 2022 Tony Award Honor for Excellence in the Theatre this year and an Obie Awards’ 2020 Special Citation for Advocacy in the Field of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. vichetchum.com
Inside the Tony Honors Reception with AAPAC Steering Committee Members Pun Bandhu, Cindy Cheung, Vichet Chum, Christine Toy Johnson, Julienne Hanzelka Kim, Kenneth Lee, Eileen Rivera, Nandita Shenoy and Lipica Shah
Jesca Prudencio is a theater director focused on creating highly physical work at theaters across the U.S. and internationally. Her critically acclaimed productions of Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone and Anna Ziegler’s Actually at San Diego Repertory Theatre received numerous Craig Noel nominations including Outstanding Director. Selected credits include Anna Moench’s Man of God (East West Players), Will Snider’s How To Use a Knife (Mixed Blood), Ben Fisher’s Mobile Happiness Bazaar (La Jolla Playhouse’s Wow Festival), Calling (Ping Chong + Company), and FAN: stories from the brothels of Bangkok (Thailand). She is a recipient of The Drama League Fellowship, and the inaugural Julie Taymor World Theater Fellowship. Jesca is Artistic Director/Founder of People Of Interest, which is dedicated to creating documentary dance theater works. She is currently Head of Directing at San Diego State University. BFA: NYU Tisch, MFA: UC San Diego. jescaprudencio.com
Coburn Goss: Steppenwolf Theatre Company: Fake, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, The Royal Family, The Burials, Absolution Off Broadway: When the Messenger Is Hot. Chicago: The Crowd You’re In With, Vigils (Goodman Theatre); The Diary of Anne Frank, Seagull (Writers Theatre); Freud’s Last Session (CRC/Mercury Theatre); Chimerica (Timeline Theatre). Regional: The Crucible (Asolo Repertory Theatre); The Last True Believer (Seattle Repertory Theatre). Film: Widows, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, The Lucky Ones, Once Upon a River, What Women Want. Television: The Red Line, neXt, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, The Mob Doctor, Boss, Empire, Chicago Code, E/R, Prison Break. He co-wrote and produced the upcoming film All Happy Families.
Jennifer Lim: Steppenwolf Theatre Company debut. Chicago: Chinglish (Jeff Award Nomination – Best Actress, Chicago Theater Critic’s Beat Nomination – Best Actress), The World of Extreme Happiness (Goodman Theatre). Broadway: Chinglish (Theater World Award – Outstanding Bway Debut, IASNY Trophy for Excellence, Drama Desk Nom – Outstanding Actress). Off Broadway: Fefu & Her Friends(TFANA); Usual Girls (Roundabout Theatre Company); Caught (PlayCo); Tumacho (Clubbed Thumb); The World of Extreme Happiness(Manhattan Theatre Club); The Urban Retreat (Public Theater); Golden Child (Signature Theatre Company). Television/Film: New Amsterdam, Prodigal Son, Jessica Jones, Instinct, High Maintenance, Hell on Wheels, POI, Elementary, The Good Wife, A Naked Singularity, The Savages, The Stand-In, 27 Dresses. Education: Yale School of Drama. Jenniferlimonline.com.
Francesca Fernandez McKenzie is an actor, producer, and educator from the San Francisco Bay Area based in New York City. She has shared her work in NYC: 59E59, Daryl Roth Theater, Ant Fest at ARS NOVA, Center at Park West and Regionally: Steppenwolf, Kansas City Rep, California Shakespeare Theatre, Southern Rep, Mu Theater, Two Rivers Theater, Magic Theater, Cleveland Playhouse, Milwaukee Rep. In NYC, she has workshopped new work with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 2g Productions, Playwrights Realm, The Lark, and the National Black Theater of Harlem. Some memorable roles include Cordelia in “King Lear” for Play On Podcasts directed by Eric Ting, Viola in “Twelfth Night” directed by Nelson T Eusebio III, and a new play, “Bald Sisters” by Vichet Chum directed by Jesca Prudencio at Steppenwolf.
TV/Film credits include “Blue Bloods,” “Arcadia,” “The Hardest Part,” “Mooshrooms,” and “The Locker Room Series,” and PBS’ Great Performances recording of the play “Gloria: A Life.” While getting her MFA in acting at Yale School of Drama, she was a co-Artistic Director of Yale Cabaret in its 50th season, an original member of the Asian and Asian American Coalition (aka Asian Potluck) and Yale School of Drama’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Working Group. While in New Orleans she was part of Cripple Creek Theater Company and is a current ensemble member of Goat in the Road Productions. In 2015, she was featured in American Theater Magazine as a “Theater Worker You Should Know.” She is a co-Founder of Encompass Collective, and is a recipient of the inaugural Stonehenge NYC Still Standing Artist Residency. She is a lecturer in the College of Performing Arts at the New School, and the Theatre and Performance Studies at Yale University.
Nima Rakhshanifar: Steppenwolf Theatre Company debut. Chicago: ShortShakes! Comedy of Errors (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Waiting for Godot(Victory Gardens Theater); Cat in the Hat (Northbrook Theater). Regional: Andy Warhol in Iran (Barrington Stage Company); A Christmas Carol, Junk, Guards at the Taj (u/s), Christmas at Pemberley (u/s) (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); Hotter than Egypt (u/s) (ACT Seattle); The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Freaky Friday (PCPA). Upcoming: Sanctuary City (TheatreSquared). Education: PCPA – Pacific Conservatory Theatre. nimarakhshanifar.com
Wai Ching Ho: Steppenwolf Theatre Company debut. Chicago: Night Watch (Goodman Theatre), Off Broadway: Snow In Midsummer (Classic Stage Company); Endlings (New York Theatre Workshop); Henry VI, Ah, Wilderness (NAATCO); No Foreigners Beyond This Point, The Square(Ma-Yi Theater Company); Joy Luck Club, Carry The Tiger To The Mountain, Legacy Codes, A Song For A Nisei Fisherman (Pan Asian Rep). Regional: A.R.T., Long Wharf Theatre, Denver Center Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Palo Theatre Works. Film: Turning Red, Hustlers, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Robot Stories. Television: Daredevil, Iron Fist, The Defenders, Awkwafina is Nora From Queens, New Amsterdam, Fresh Off the Boat, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order SVU.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer, photo activist, documentarian and an Award winning filmmaker and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Lia is also the host and Executive Producer of BACKSTAGE PASS WITH LIA CHANG, an Arts and Entertainment and Lifestyle program that airs on Sundays at 6:30pm on FIOS 34, RCN 83, Spectrum 56/1996.
Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. Her short film, When the World Was Young garnered a 2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations.
She is the recipient of the 2022 Prospect Muse Award, 2000 OCA Chinese American Journalist Award, the 2001 AAJA National Award for New Media. Lia is an AAJA Executive Leadership Graduate (2000), a Western Knight Fellow at USC’s Annenberg College of Communications for Specialized Journalism on Entertainment Journalism in the Digital Age (2000), a National Press Photographers Association Visual Edge/Visual Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute for New Media (2001), a Scripps Howard New Media Fellow at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism (2002), and a National Tropical Botanical Garden Environmental Journalism Fellow (2003).