News & Articles

The Many Faces of K. Todd Freeman

Hallie Gordon: Let’s start by talking about what it is for you as an artist that makes you want to direct at this point in your career. Or why did you want to direct this play specifically? K. Todd Freeman: Over the years, directing has grown on me. I never thought I could direct anything, just like I never thought I could act in anything. There are certain plays that speak to me like, wow, I would like to direct that one. This play in particular speaks to me, just because I’m very interested in South Africa and the whole political and social environment. I love plays that tell apartheid stories, especially because I feel like we’ve forgotten about apartheid in this part of the world. We think everything’s all hunky-dory now, which is a shame. I feel like people have forgotten about Athol Fugard. He used to be such a big thing in American theater. In the eighties, his work was produced everywhere in the regional theater. So I’m glad to help people rediscover Mr. Fugard. HG: You’re also teaching in The School at Steppenwolf this summer, and you’ve directed the final plays with the students in the past. How has teaching helped you as an artist? KF: Teaching makes you get specific. They keep asking questions. (laughs) HG: You kind of have to know the answers. (laughs) KF: They look at you like you know everything. You’ve got to have an answer. They get very ticked off if you don’t have an answer for them. So, it helps you get specific, it helps you find a vocabulary for what you do if nothing else. It makes you think about what we do, in the ways that you haven’t in forever, or since you were in school, which is refreshing. HG: Do you think teaching will affect your work as a director? KF: Sure. It’s always a good influence, but I’m confident of my work as a director. I’ve directed some off-Broadway shows — original plays friends have written over the years — so it doesn’t scare me. The only thing that worries me is choreographing all the bloody dancing. (laughs) HG: And we’ll have to talk about the scene where they drop their pants. KF: That has to happen... HG: Oh, I know it does. We’re not cutting it, I’m not saying that at all... KF: That’s the moment everybody talks about in the play. HG: We actually have a really great student audience, very mature. Yes, they can be very vocal, but they are all so incredibly engaged in the discussions that we have. KF: Is this the first time you’ve done a more adult type of play for Arts Exchange? HG: Oh, no we’ve done The Bluest Eye, A Lesson Before Dying and later this season, we’ll do Lady Madeline, based on Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. All mature productions for student and family audiences. KF: So "MASTER HAROLD" will be no exception. (laughter) HG: Can you talk to me a little bit about your feelings about "MASTER HAROLD"...and the boys? KF: This play is a landmark of world theater; it hit audiences with such a powerful jolt when it came out. But it’s more than just social, political theater, because those things would feel dated. The play still holds up, still needs to be done because of the relationships it describes. It’s not an overtly political play, but there are so many layers of politics built into the emotional landscape, built into the relationships in the play. I think that’s what’s really going to resonate with our student audiences.

Kraft Becomes Corporate Sponsor of Arts Exchange

Lynne Galia of Kraft Foods Inc. recently presented Martha Lavey and David Hawkanson of Steppenwolf Theatre Company with an impressive increased gift of $50,000 to support the Arts Exchange Program. Since 1988, Kraft has been strongly committed to the arts and to Steppenwolf. Kraft’s gift is critical to the success of the program and allows us to make great strides in our efforts to reach underserved students, teachers and families in the Chicago community. Kraft Foods Inc. is the Corporate Sponsor of Arts Exchange. The Steppenwolf Arts Exchange Program is also supported by the Sage Foundation, the Target Foundation, the William Randolph Hearst Foundations, The Crown Family, Avy and Marcie Stein, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Dr. Scholl Foundation, Chicago Tribune Foundation, The Albert Pick, Jr. Fund, Allstate Foundation, the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Foundation, Patrick and Anna M. Cudahy Fund, The Grover Hermann Foundation and the Steppenwolf Auxiliary Council.The Chicago Community Trust is the Exclusive Sponsor of the Arts Exchange Production Series. Polk Bros. Foundation is the sponsor of Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Teacher Workshops offered in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools Office of Language and Culture and the Chicago Teachers’ Center. ITW Foundation is the sponsor of Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Family Series. The Siragusa Foundation is the sponsor of the Cross-Town Teen Ensemble. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and by a CityArts Program 4 grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. The Steppenwolf Arts Exchange is a citywide partner of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) School Partner Program.