Steppenwolf Theatre Company

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Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a Chicago theatre company founded in 1974 by Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney, Laurie Metcalf, and Jeff Perry in the Unitarian church on Half Day Road in Deerfield [1] and is now located in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood on Halsted Street. Its name comes from the Hermann Hesse novel which original member Rick Argosh was reading during the company's inaugural production, And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, in January 1974.[2]


In 1980, the theater company moved into a 134-seat theater at the Jane Addams Hull House Center on Broadway Avenue in Chicago. Two years later, the company moved to a 211-seat facility at 2851 N. Halsted Street, which was their home until 1991, when construction was completed on the current theater complex at 1650 N. Halsted Street (with administrative offices at 1700 N. Halsted Street.)

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.


Steppenwolf is an ensemble theatre founded in 1974 by Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney, and Jeff Perry. Its members have included actors Joan Allen, Kevin Anderson, Alana Arenas, Randall Arney, Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Robert Breuler, Gary Cole, Kathryn Erbe, Audrey Francis, Francis Guinan, Moira Harris, Jon Michael Hill, Tim Hopper, Tom Irwin, Ora Jones, John Mahoney, John Malkovich, Sandra Marquez, Mariann Mayberry, James Vincent Meredith, Laurie Metcalf, Amy Morton, Sally Murphy, Caroline Neff, Austin Pendleton, William Petersen, Martha Plimpton, Jim Fitzpatrick, Rondi Reed, Molly Regan, Lois Smith, Rick Snyder, Jim True-Frost, Alan Wilder, with newest member Namir Smallwood ( joining in February 2017. It also includes playwrights Tina Landau, Tracy Letts, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Bruce Norris and Eric Simonson, and directors Frank Galati, K. Todd Freeman, Terry Kinney, Martha Lavey, Yasen Peyankov and Anna D. Shapiro among its members.


Notable productions[3] include:

Critical reception[edit]

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 Frank Galati's adaption 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 Steppenwolf 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."[6] 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.[7] 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 went on to win the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play. 'August' closed on Broadway on Sunday, June 28, 2009, after 648 performances and 18 previews. Concurrently, 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 Broadway 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, Glenne Headly, Gary Cole, Terry Kinney, Kathryn Erbe, Jennifer Morrison and Laurie Metcalf.

In 2009 Steppenwolf was recognized by The Wall Street Journal as a Top Small Workplace in America. Additionally, 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

Among its many honors are the Tony Award for Regional Theatre Excellence (1985) and the National Medal of Arts (1998).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Steppenwolf @ Twenty-Five. Steppenwolf Theater Company. p. 2. 
  2. ^ "A Chicago Theatre Company Is Born (history) – Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
  3. ^ Martin Banham -The Cambridge Guide to Theatre 1995 – Page 1035 Notable productions include True West, Balm in Gilead, And a Nightingale Sang, Orphans, Coyote Ugly, Burn This, and company member Frank Galati's adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath. ...
  4. ^ Best Plays 1983–1984 – Page 59 Otis L. Guernsey – 1989 "Coyote Ugly by Lynn Seifert (San Francisco: Berkeley Stage) — The slightly outrageous story of a hard bitten, depraved family living in the Arizona desert unfolds in the crackling, wild dialogue of this young wild dialogue of this young playwright who was runner- up in the Susan Smith Blackburn competition for women playwrights in 1984."
  5. ^ Current Biography Yearbook – Volume 49 1989 – Page 355 "After reprising Biff for a taped CBS television version of Death of a Salesman, Malkovich returned to Chicago in March 1985 to direct Lynn Seifert's Coyote Ugly at the Steppenwolf Theatre. "
  6. ^ Charles Isherwood (December 5, 2007). "Mama Doesn't Feel Well, but Everyone Else Will Feel Much Worse". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  7. ^ Richard Zoglin; Tracy Letts (December 9, 2007). "Top 10 Theater Productions". Time. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°54′45″N 87°38′55″W / 41.91250°N 87.64861°W / 41.91250; -87.64861