From Highland Park to Lincoln Park
In January, Gary Sinise and a small group of aspiring Highland Park high school actors organize under the name Steppenwolf Theatre Company at the North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, Illinois and produce the first Steppenwolf play, And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little by Paul Zindel. In April the company produces a second show, the musical Grease and in June, Terry Kinney and Jeff Perry team up with Gary and the group on a third production, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard. In October a forth show is produced, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, completing the first season.
Steppenwolf Theatre Incorporates in February. Produces one play that summer. The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel. Directed by Barbara Patterson with music written by Gary Sinise.
The company reorganizes both artistically and philosophically, by bringing in new actors and dedicating themselves to the ensemble approach to theater. The founding members are Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry, and Gary Sinise. The founders recruit six additional members. They are original members H.E. Baccus, Nancy Evans, Moira Harris, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf and Alan Wilder. All but two of this original group, H.E. Baccus and Nancy Evans, remain as ensemble members today.
The company is housed in the basement of the Immaculate Conception Church and School in Highland Park, Illinois and builds an 88-seat theatre with the help of Kevin Rigdon, recruited as resident designer from 1976-1982. While the origins of the company go back to 1974, with taking up residence in the church basement and the reorganization by the founders and original members, the summer of 1976 is considered the official beginning.
Joan Allen joins the company.
In May, the company produces its first plays in the city of Chicago at the Jane Adams Hull House. It is a short run revival of two one acts from the summer season of ’76: The Indian Wants The Bronx and Birdbath.
Chicago playwright Dan Ursini becomes Steppenwolf's first resident playwright.
The ensemble teams up with The St Nicholas Theatre Company on Halsted Street for a production of Lanford Wilson’s The Fifth of July. It is the first time the company is paid for acting. Each member of the cast makes $100 per week, $88 after taxes.
In June, the company produces its final production in the basement theatre in Highland Park, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.
Later that summer, seven more members are recruited: Mary Copple, Francis Guinan, Glenne Headly, Tom Irwin, John Mahoney, Rondi Reed and Mike Sassone. Mary Copple and Mike Sassone leave the company within a few years.
In the fall/winter of that season the company begins its transition into Chicago and produces Waiting For Lefty by Clifford Odets at The Apollo Theatre, and it is the first collaboration with longtime friend and director Sheldon Patinkin. The company also teams up with Travelight Theatre for a production of Say Goodnight Gracie by Ralph Pape, and it is the first time working with future company member, director Austin Pendleton.
The company moves to the 134-seat theater at the Jane Addams Hull House Center, 3212 N Broadway, Chicago and opens with Bonjour, La Bonjour by Michel Tremblay.
Gary Sinise is named artistic director.
In the summer, Balm in Gilead is remounted at the Apollo Theatre
In early fall the company moves to the 211-seat facility at 2851 N Halsted, Chicago, former home of The St Nicholas Theatre, and opens A Prayer For My Daughter, directed by John Malkovich.
Jeff Perry is named artistic director.
Rick Snyder joins the company.
And a Nightingale Sang..., directed by Terry Kinney, and featuring Joan Allen, Francis Guinan and Moira Harris, is transferred to New York and opens at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on November 27. It is the second play Steppenwolf produces in New York.
Kevin Rigdon returns to Steppenwolf as resident designer.
Balm in Gilead, directed by John Malkovich and featuring Francis Guinan, Glenne Headly, Tom Irwin, Terry Kinney, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, and Gary Sinise, opens on May 15 in New York at the Circle Repertory Theatre.
AWARD: Steppenwolf is presented with the Antoinette Perry Award (Tony) for Regional Theatre Excellence.
Gary Sinise is named artistic director.
Frank Galati joins the ensemble.
Grapes of Wrath is commissioned.
Orphans, directed by Gary Sinise, opens March 11 in London at the Hampstead Theatre. Albert Finney and Jeff Fahey join Kevin Anderson in the cast. The production opens April 9 in a transfer to London's West End at the Apollo Theatre.
Frank's Wild Years with Tom Waits opens.
Nan Cibula and Erin Quigley named resident costume designers.
Randall Arney named artistic director.
The Grapes of Wrath opens at Royal George Theater.
John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, adapted and directed by Frank Galati, journeys to the La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, California, opening May 14. It then travels to the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain's Lyttleton Theatre, London, England, where it opens June 22. It features Robert Breuler, Tom Irwin, Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry, Rondi Reed, Gary Sinise, Rick Snyder, Jim True-Frost, and Alan Wilder.
The Grapes of Wrath opens on Broadway at the Cort Theatre on March 22, 1990 and features Robert Breuler, Francis Guinan, Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry, Rondi Reed, Gary Sinise, Rick Snyder, and Jim True-Frost.
Steppenwolf opens new theater complex with Grand Opening Gala sponsored by Citibank on April 13, 1991.
AWARD: Antoinette Perry Award (Tony) nomination for Best Play: The Song of Jacob Zulu
The Song of Jacob Zulu returns to Chicago in February for a brief run before traveling to Perth, Australia for the Festival of Perth, and to New York for a Broadway run.
Steppenwolf inaugurates the Studio Theatre with the World Premiere of Picasso at the Lapin Agile, by Steve Martin.
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice opens on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre.
Steppenwolf makes its Los Angeles debut at the Westwood Playhouse with Steve Martin's first play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile.
Steppenwolf ensemble member Martha Lavey is named Artistic Director.
On October 1, Steppenwolf Theatre Company celebrates the beginning of its 20th Anniversary Season with the opening of Buried Child, and plays to sold-out audiences.
Steppenwolf Theatre's for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf... at the DuSable Museum of African-American History.
Steppenwolf co-founder Gary Sinise directs ensemble members Terry Kinney, Jim True-Frost and Lois Smith in the remounting of Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Buried Child on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theater, opening April 30, produced in part by Zollo Productions. The production receives 5 Tony nominations including Best Play, Best Director and Best Featured Actress for Lois Smith.
Nomathemba (Hope) directed by Eric Simonson and co-written by Joseph Shabalala, Ntozake Shange and Simonson receives spring productions at Crossroads Theater in New Jersey, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It was first conceived and produced on Steppenwolf's mainstage in the winter of 1995, becoming the highest grossing production ever at Steppenwolf.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company celebrates its official 20th birthday on July 22, 1996.
Amy Morton joins the ensemble.
AWARD: Steppenwolf is awarded a 1998 National Medal of Arts, presented by President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in a White House ceremony. The Medal honors individuals and organizations "who in the President's judgment are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States."
The growth of a younger generation of artists as well as the continuing investment of the Steppenwolf ensemble in producing exciting work on a smaller scale inspire the opening of a third performance space, The Garage at Steppenwolf, in the rehearsal/performance space on the first floor of the parking garage building. The inaugural production is the American premiere of Hilary Bell's Wolf Lullaby, directed by Anna D. Shapiro
Kaufman and Hart's The Man Who Came to Dinner, directed by James Burrows, travels to the Barbican Centre in London. The production is invited to represent American theater as part of the Centre's year-long Inventing America festival. The entire original cast goes overseas, including ensemble members John Mahoney in the title role, Robert Breuler, Rick Snyder and Alan Wilder.
The School at Steppenwolf is founded as a training residency for professional actors to be immersed in the ensemble traditions, values and methods that have made Steppenwolf unique.
AWARD: On April 10, 2000, Steppenwolf's ensemble is recognized by the Illinois Arts Alliance Foundation with the 2000 Illinois Arts Legend Award. The annual award, established in 1999, honors an artist and an advocate who have significantly changed the artistic and cultural lives of the people of Illinois.
Side Man featuring Rick Snyder, Rondi Reed and Jim True-Frost, and the Traffic production of Beat and Beatitudes: Revisiting Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Generation with John Mahoney and Tim Hopper, play at the Galway Arts Festival in Ireland.
AWARD: Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Revival: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
AWARD: Otto Rene Castello Award for Political Theatre
AWARD: The Drama League Unique Contribution to Theatre Award
AWARD: Antoinette Perry Award (Tony) Award for Best Revival of a Play: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Traffic's A Night in the Pub with novelist Frank McCourt and Irish fiddler Liz Carroll moves to the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Scotland.
Steppenwolf's Traffic returns to Galway, Ireland, with What Ever (An American Odyssey in 8 Acts) and Steve Earle and Tony Fitzpatrick's The Remembered City
Steppenwolf presented Glengarry Glen Ross at the Dublin Theatre Festival.
AWARD: Equity Special Award presented to Steppenwolf Theatre Company for its leadership in earning national and international acclaim for Chicago theatre.
Anna D. Shapiro joins the ensemble
First ever First Look Repertory of New Work.
Red Light Winter, written and directed by Adam Rapp, opens at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York on February 9, 2006.
Love-Lies-Bleeding, by Don DeLillo, directed by Amy Morton, and featuring Martha Lavey, travels to the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater as a co-production of The Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays from June 17 – June 25, 2006.
The Sunset Limited transfers to the 59E59 Theaters in New York.
The Bluest Eye transfers to the New Victory in New York.
August: Osage County premieres at Steppenwolf
August: Osage County transfers to the Imperial Theatre on Broadway in New York City.
When The Messenger is Hot is produced at 59E59 in New York City.
AWARD: August: Osage County wins five Tony Awards – Best Play (Tracy Letts), Best Direction (Anna D. Shapiro), Best Leading Actress (Deanna Dunagan), Best Featured Actress (Rondi Reed) and Best Scenic Design (Todd Rosenthal). AWARD: Tracy Letts wins the Pulitzer Prize for drama August: Osage County moves next door to the Music Box Theatre on Broadway in New York City.
William Petersen joins the ensemble.
August: Osage County performs an eight-week engagement at the National Theatre in London.
AWARD: Laurence Olivier Award to Todd Rosenthal for Best Set Design: August: Osage County (National Theatre)
Superior Donuts opens on Broadway at The Music Box in New York City.
Steppenwolf produces it’s first ever Shakespeare play, The Tempest.
Steppenwolf’s production of American Buffalo moves to the McCarter Theatre in Princeton New Jersey.
The Wall Street Journal and Winning Workplaces name Steppenwolf one of the top 15 small workplaces in America.
August: Osage County opens at Sydney Theatre Company in Sydney Australia.
Tarell Alvin McCraney joins the ensemble.
Detroit by Lisa D'Amour premieres in the Downstairs Theatre.
The first ever Garage Rep invites three Chicago storefront theater companies to perform in repertory in the Steppenwolf Garage.
Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Bruce Norris joins the ensemble.
Steppenwolf’s production of Airline Highway by Lisa D’Amour opens on Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in April 2015.
Steppenwolf premieres The Herd by Rory Kinnear reuniting ensemble members Francis Guinan, John Mahoney, Molly Regan and Lois Smith under the direction of ensemble member Frank Galati. The show receives critical acclaim and extends due to popular demand.
Ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro becomes Artistic Director at the start of the 2015/16 season.
Steppenwolf’s 40th anniversary season opens with the world premiere of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden in the Downstairs Theatre, directed by co-founder Terry Kinney and adapted by ensemble member Frank Galati, featuring ensemble members Kate Arrington, Francis Guinan, Tim Hopper and Alan Wilder.