By Calamity West, directed by Brad DeFabo Akin

Whispers and rumors had been swirling around the Gruber family farm long before the bodies were discovered on that cold April day. It's 1922, and a remote community in Bavaria is reeling in the aftermath of World War I: gender roles are shifting, a generation gap is emerging, and farmers are battling poverty in the shadow of a growing urban intelligentsia. Inspired by a chilling and true unsolved crime, Hinter is a darkly comic thriller by one of Chicago’s most exciting new playwrights.

"West is a colossal Chicago talent with a formidable intellect..."
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

Production Sponsors: Jessica & Christoph Schrey, Timothy Sherck
Opening Night Sponsor: Dana Black

Performance Schedule

Extended through March 17

Previews: January 19 - 24, 2018
Press Opening: Thursday, January 25, 2018
Performances: January 25 - March 17, 2018
Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm
Sunday afternoons at 3pm
Full Performance Calendar

Audio Description will be available on Saturday, February 24.
Open Captioning will be available on Sunday, February 25.
Contact us at access@steeptheatre.com or 773-649-3186 for more information or to reserve tickets.

Running Time: Two hours with one intermission

Late Seating: Please note that late seating is not possible and that all tickets not claimed by the scheduled performance time may be released to the wait list. For questions about this, please contact our box office.

Content Advisory: This production is intended for adult audiences. For more information about the content of this show, please click here.

Aurora Adachi-Winter
Alex Gillmor*
Denise Hoeflich (after 3/4/18)
Peter Moore*
Jim Poole*
Melissa Riemer* (through 3/4/18)
Lauren Sivak
Sasha Smith
Sigrid Sutter
Nate Whelden
Eunice Woods

Director – Brad DeFabo Akin* 
Stage Manager – Lauren Lassus**
Set Designer – Lauren Nigri
Lighting Designer – Pete Dully*
Sound Designer – Thomas Dixon**
Costume Designer  – Mieka van der Ploeg
Props Designer  – Kathryn Johnson
Violence & Intimacy Choreographer – Sasha Smith
Dramaturg – Neena Arndt
Assistant Director – Almanya Narula
Production Manager – Catherine Allen

*Denotes Steep Company Member
**Denotes Steep Artistic Associate

In the Press

Four Stars
"Calamity West’s new murder mystery is taut, complex and a bloody good time."
Alex Huntsberger, TimeOut Chicago

"Hinter is one of the best plays I’ve seen in the past year.... It’s worth your time to head to Steep Theatre and catch Hinter during its world premiere run."
Marielle Shaw, Third Coast Review

"West is a colossal Chicago talent with a formidable intellect...Any trip inside West’s feverishly imaginative mind is rich and fascinating."
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

"...this may very well be West’s most enticing play to date."
Kevin Greene, NewCity Stage

"Combined with the emotional intensity displayed by Brad DeFabo Akin's direction of a laser-focused cast, the suspense generated as each clue surfaces is as provocative as it is persistent."
Mary Shen Barnidge, Windy City Times

"HINTER kept me twitching through the curtain call and all the way home."
Katy Walsh, The Fourth Walsh

The Hinterkaifeck Murders

One of the most mysterious murders of the last century took place on March 31, 1922 in a remove farm in Bavaria. The Hinterkaifeck farm, and what became of its inhabitants on that cold day 95 years ago has been the subject of much intrigue, and it is the inspiration behind Calamity West's new play, Hinter.

These long, dark winter evenings are the perfect time to bolt your door, grab your favorite blanket, and dive in to the mysterious Hinterkaifeck Murders...


Stuff You Missed in History Class 
Stuff You Should Know
Generation Why Podcast
Thinking Sideways


Mental Floss - The Chilling Story of the Hinterkaifeck Killings, Germany's Most Famous Unsolved Crime by Sonya Vatomsky

Download the Program

Join the Conversation on Twitter

Interview with Calamity West

Calamity V2.jpg

Brad DeFabo Akin:  Your work has been produced by a number of companies around Chicago, but this commission marks your first collaboration with Steep. What made you willing to trust us with this play?

Calamity West:  Everything. Since landing in Chicago it has been a dream of mine to work at Steep. The consistency in their product is astounding. Now, having been through the creative process with Steep, I can honestly say that every one of my expectations were not merely met, they were exceeded.  Creatively, administratively, and personally I have never had a more gracious and professional experience. Steep is the real deal, a true treasure of Chicago. I am humbled by everything they have given me.

BDA:  You found the seed of this play in the unsolved murders that happened on the Gruber farm, Hinterkaifeck, in 1922 Germany. What drew you to this case?

CW:  I’m generally fascinated with post-WWI/pre-WWII Europe - so that was the first thing that drew me in. Specifically, the deeper I moved into the landscape of this real-life event I found myself profoundly fascinated with the isolation and secrets behind the Gruber family. Every part of their familial history became fertile ground for me to sink my feet into. It was loads of fun.

BDA:  We’ve been developing this piece for over a year now. There have been so many discoveries along the way, but one of the biggest was when you realized that a number of the characters in the play should be women instead of men.

CW:  As an artist I am continually exposing social and intellectual violence inflicted on women. I want my plays to be a mirror for the day-in/day-out of misogyny. I think this is the closest I’ve gotten in holding that mirror. Which is surprising given my canon of work. Who knew it would take me venturing onto a farm in 1922 to get what I’ve been looking for?

BDA:  The word “complicity” is one that has come up a lot since the presidential election and in the current #MeToo conversation. It also popped up a lot in our conversations about this play.

CW:  Complicity is a theme in all my plays. Right now the national consciousness just happens to be aligned with what I’m always exploring. Why is it important in this story? Complicity lives with every single character in this play - in a myriad of ways, with a myriad of outcomes. 

About Hinter

In January, Steep Ensemble Member Brad DeFabo Akin returns to Steep to direct the world premiere of Calamity West’s Hinter, which was commissioned by Steep Theatre. West has quickly emerged as an important Chicago playwright, with recent acclaimed productions of her works Rolling (Jackalope Theatre) and Give It All Back (Sideshow Theatre). Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune dubbed West “the real deal“ and “one of this city‘s most exciting new voices.“ DeFabo Akin has delivered notable Steep productions strangers, babies, Book of Days, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and 2016‘s The Few.

About Calamity West

Calamity West is a Chicago-based, award-winning, Kilroys-cited playwright. In the winter of 2018 her play Engines and Instruments of Flight: A Fantasia, originally commissioned at The Goodman Theatre, will have its first New York reading at The Roundabout. Her newest play, Greetings from Moscow! A Love Story is currently in development at TimeLine Theatre Company while another of her plays, In the Canyon is in development at Jackalope Theatre Company. Additional plays by Calamity West include: Hinter (2018); Engines And Instruments of Flight: A Fantasia (2017); Give It All Back (2016, Kilroy-cited); Rolling (2016); Ibsen Is Dead (2014); The Peacock (2013, Kilroys honorable mention); The Gacy Play (2012); and Common Hatred (2012). In 2014 she was the recipient of the 3Arts Award. Calamity is a company member of Jackalope Theatre Company and an artistic associate of Sideshow Theatre Company. She teaches playwriting at the University of Chicago and Webster University. She is represented by The Gersh Agency.

Season 17