News & Articles
2005-2006, Volume 1
Welcome to the 30th Season at Steppenwolf
by Martha Lavey, Ensemble Member and Artistic Director
We are honored to claim among you, our treasured audience, subscribers who were with us from our original home in an 80-seat theater in Highland Park, friends who have joined us along our way from our home at the Hull House to our theater at 2851 North Halsted, to our present home, where we operate three theaters in which we produce five streams of programming. The several generations of growth in our audience mirrors the growth of our ensemble and staff – we are now comprised of an ensemble that includes our founding members and has grown to include 35 theater artists, whose work on the stage is supported by an administrative, artistic and production staff of 75. It has been a remarkable journey. On the Steppenwolf stages we have produced 246 plays, hosted 15 visiting companies, produced 52 performances on our Traffic series, moved our productions to stages in New York, Vail, Houston, Dallas, Hartford, New Brunswick, London, Galway, La Jolla, Dublin, Toronto, Melbourne, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Glasgow, Perth and Sydney. We have been the recipients of a host of Jeff Awards, Tony Awards and of the National Medal of the Arts. We feel enormously proud of the work we have done and enormously grateful for your support.
Faced with the prospect of an anniversary season, we saw an opportunity to make a statement about our life as a theater and about our ambitions for our future. Naturally, we gave thought to our history – should we revive work from past seasons, refreshing it with the increased resources of our artists and staff and setting? Should we create a season of American classics in acknowledgement of our role as a leading American theater? Both gestures felt, in the end of all, uncharacteristically reverent. It was one of our founders, Terry Kinney, who said simply, "We’ll do a season of all new plays." And so we will. It is perhaps revealing that the voice insisting on innovation issues from a founding member of Steppenwolf. Gary, Jeff and Terry started the theater because they (in the glorious arrogance of youth) believed that they could re-make the theater. They insisted on having a place at the table of the American theater and they insisted that they would play by their own rules. They were joined, very shortly, by an original company of ensemble actors, and together, they did just that.
It’s a beneficent artistic legacy to have inherited. Both components – a commitment to innovation, and a commitment to a corps of artists, our ensemble – form the bedrock of what we, at Steppenwolf, identify as our core values. The third component of our core values is citizenship.
These three principles – ensemble, innovation and citizenship – guide our decision-making and together, form our mission. We start with a commitment to our artists, believing that the voice of the artist is a vital force in the discourse of our culture. It is through the language of metaphor and in the arena of play that our soul is given utterance and our lives with others find common ground. We commit, through that expressiveness, to innovation – we dedicate ourselves to wakefulness, to the challenge and joy of liveliness. Finally, we commit, through these values, to citizenship: we own our role in the life of our shared communities – our audiences, our fellow artists, our colleague American theaters.
It is in service to these core values ensemble, innovation and citizenship that we use the occasion of our 30th anniversary season to present a season of new plays, anchored by the work of our ensemble, and presented to an audience who has demonstrated an eagerness to be challenged and an appreciation of our artists.
It’s fantastic to work with fellow artists over a 30-year span. It is fantastic to play to members of our audience who have been with us for that same duration. It is, likewise, fantastic to work with new artists, to play to audience members attending Steppenwolf for the first time. We are, all of us, artists and audience alike, enormously fortunate to live in the weave of that multi-generational conversation. We are, mutually, refreshing and grounding one another. We are celebrating our citizenship in the country of the human heart. Thank you, so much, for being here. It is an honor to make our work for you.