In a city of great theater, none casts a longer shadow than Steppenwolf, with its extraordinary ensemble of actors, writers, and directors.
In recent decades, none shaped that theater more than artistic director Martha Lavey, who died this week of a stroke, far too young (60).
She commissioned new plays; brought in up-and-coming playwrights like Tracy Letts (“August: Osage County”), Tarrell Alvin McCraney (“In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” adapted for the film “Moonlight”) and Bruce Norris (the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Clybourne Park”); and created new workshops and experimental performing spaces.
During her tenure, Steppenwolf presented a long list of critically praised productions. Several transferred to Broadway, winning nine Tony Awards. The theater’s restagings of Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” both won Tonys for best revival.
Mr. Letts’s “August: Osage County” was developed at the theater and had its world premiere there. After moving to Broadway, it won five awards at the 2008 Tonys, including best play. Mr. Letts went on to win a best-actor Tony in 2013 for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” –Chicago Tribune
As subscribers for decades, we saw them all.
I remember especially watching Tracy Lett’s magisterial “August: Osage Country” in its premier run. I kept thinking, “This is one for the ages. It will be playing as long as there are great actors to play it.” That was the creative genius of Tracy, Martha, and the Steppenwolf ensemble. Time and again, they captured the raw, immediate, and very personal drama of live theater.
In Martha Lavey’s memory, all Chicago’s theaters have dimmed their lights.
Her lasting achievement is that Chicago’s creative lights will burn brighter for her life in theater here.