Tony winner Kenny Leon will direct Obie winner Rajiv Joseph's King James, which will make its world premiere in Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 2021-2022 Comeback Season. Co-commissioned and co-produced with Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group, King James will play Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theater in Chicago March 3–April 10, 2022, prior to an engagement at CTG's Mark Taper Forum June 1–July 3.
Leon, who recently directed the Broadway premiere of A Soldier’s Play, which won the 2021 Tony Award for Best Revival, replaces the originally announced Anna D. Shapiro. Shapiro, who stepped down as Steppenwolf artistic director this past summer, will direct the spring 2022 Broadway debut of Steppenwolf’s production of The Minutes, which she was directing when theatres were shutdown due to the pandemic. Its new dates coincide with the Chicago run of King James.
King James, as previously reported, will feature newly appointed Artistic Director (and ensemble member) Glenn Davis alongside Chris Perfetti.
Joseph’s King James, about basketball superstar Lebron James, brings together two friends who communicate best when they are talking and arguing about sports. The drama is described as an intimate exploration of the place that sports and athletes occupy in our emotional lives and relationships. It explores the star player’s impact on Cleveland, from his rookie season to the city’s historic championship, and the lives of these two unlikely friends.
Leon won his Tony for directing the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun. He was also Tony-nominated for directing the aforementioned A Soldier's Play as well as the revival of Fences.
Joseph penned the Pulitzer Prize finalist Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which had its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2009 before being produced at the Taper and then on Broadway. He received the Obie Award for Best New American Play twice, in 2016 for Guards at the Taj (also a 2016 Lortel winner for Best Play) and in 2018 for Describe the Night.