Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a Tony Award-winning Chicago theatre company founded in 1974 by Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney, and Jeff Perry in the basement of a church in Highland Park, Illinois. It has since relocated to Chicago's Halsted Street, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Its name comes from the Hermann Hesse novel. Martha Lavey, long-time ensemble member, has been artistic director since 1995 and David Hawkanson has been executive director since 2003.
In 1980, the theater company moved into a 134-seat theater at the Jane Addams Hull House Center on Broadway Avenue in Chicago proper. Two years later, the company moved to a 211-seat facility at 2851 N. Halsted Street, which was their home until 1991, when they completed construction on and moved into their current theater complex at 1650 N. Halsted Street, where the company has helped make Chicago the leading U.S. city for the performing arts.
In its inaugural season, the company presented Paul Zindel's And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, Grease, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie.
In 1982, Sam Shepard's True West, starring Sinise and John Malkovich, was the first of many Steppenwolf productions to travel to New York City. In 1994, the company made its Los Angeles debut with Steve Martin's first play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and in 1996, after successful runs in Chicago and New York, Lyle Kessler's Orphans, directed by Gary Sinise, was the first Steppenwolf production to go international, debuting in London.
Through its New Plays Initiative, the company maintains ongoing relationships with writers of international prominence while continuing to support the work of aspiring and mid-career playwrights. In 1988, Steppenwolf presented the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath, based on the John Steinbeck novel, which eventually went on to win the Tony Award for Best Play. In 2000 it presented the world premiere of Austin Pendleton's Orson's Shadow, which subsequently was staged off-Broadway and by regional theatres throughout the country.
In December 2007, Steppenwolf opened a new play written and directed by ensemble members at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. Tracy Letts' August: Osage County was hailed by the New York Times as "... flat out, no asterisks and without qualifications the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years." Directed by ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro and featuring seven ensemble members, August: Osage County was number one in Time's Top Ten Theatre Performances of 2007. After moving from the Imperial Theatre next door to The Music Box Theatre for an open-ended run, August: Osage County garnered five Tony Awards including Best Play of 2007, Best Director (Anna D. Shapiro), Best Leading Actress (Deanna Dunagan), Best Featured Actress (Rondi Reed), and Best Scenic Design (Todd Rosenthal). Letts' play went on to win the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In November 2008 the play opened at the Royal National Theatre in London for a soaringly successful 10 week run with most of the original cast, ultimately winning that year's Olivier Award for Rosenthal's set design.
Steppenwolf helped to launch the careers of a number of well-known American actors, including Gary Sinise, John Malkovich, Joan Allen, John Mahoney, Martha Plimpton, Dennis Farina, Glenne Headly, Gary Cole, Terry Kinney, Kathryn Erbe, and Laurie Metcalf.
In 2010 Steppenwolf's apprenticeship program was honored for the second consecutive year as one of the Top 10 Internships in America by leading career website Vault.com.
Among its many honors are the Tony Award for Regional Theatre Excellence (1985) and the National Medal of Arts (1998).
- Charles Isherwood (5 December 2007). "Mama Doesn’t Feel Well, but Everyone Else Will Feel Much Worse". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-30.
- Richard Zoglin; Tracy Letts (2007-12-09). "Top 10 Theater Productions". Time. Retrieved 2008-05-30.
- Steppenwolf Theatre Company official website
- Steppenwolf Theatre Company at the Internet Broadway Database