Showing posts with label Martha Lavey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Martha Lavey. Show all posts

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Martha Lavey Celebration and Honorary Street Naming at Steppenwolf Last Week

Steppenwolf Paid Heartfelt Tribute to Influential and Beloved Chicago Cultural Leader
in Public Memorial Event, October 9

Martha Lavey: 
A Celebration of Her Life and Legacy

It's been a huge year of loss for Steppenwolf Theatre Company with numerous beloved ensemble members and associates passing away. The untimely death of former artistic director Martha Lavey, is the one that hit me the hardest. I was happy to see they have a tribute to her with a reserved sign on the bookshelves at Front Bar. There will always be space reserved in our hearts and minds for Martha Lavey, as those she influenced create on.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company hosted a warm and heartfelt public memorial celebrating the remarkable life and legacy of ensemble member and former artistic director Martha Lavey, who passed earlier this year at the age of 60. On October 9, more than 500 ensemble members, friends, family, co-workers, and collaborators gathered in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre to share in a two hour tribute to the legendary Chicago cultural leader with stories, song, laughter and tears, hosted by current Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro and Executive Director David Schmitz. More than 500 people also tuned into the live stream of the event.

In addition to the hosts, the evening included speeches honoring the many ways that Martha Lavey touched the lives around her personally as a sister, aunt, friend and collaborator, and publicly as a cultural and community leader, mentor and advocate of the arts and artists. Speakers included ensemble members Amy Morton, Bruce Norris, Yasen Peyankov, Molly Regan (sharing the words of ensemble member Austin Pendleton) along with Jenny Avery, Doug Brown, Ben Cameron, Curt Columbus, Nora Daley, Michele Dragisity, Evan Hatfield, Bruce Sagan, Jessica Thebus and Andy White. The event also included musical performances by the All Nations Worship Assembly Chicago Ensemble, Suzi Petri and ensemble member Jim True-Frost. A retrospective video looking back on Lavey’s life and legacy was provided by HMS Video.

The following morning, the stretch of Halsted Street in front of Steppenwolf Theatre was renamed “Martha Lavey Way” in an honorary ceremony. Steppenwolf ensemble, employees and public gathered at the corner of Willow St and Halsted St at 11am for the sign unveiling with remarks by Steppenwolf Executive Director David Schmitz and Alderman Michele Smith.

The honorary street renaming ordinance was submitted by Alderman Michele Smith of the 43rd Ward and granted by the City Council. Two honorary “Martha Lavey Way” signs have been installed—one at the northwest corner of North Halsted Street and West North Avenue, pointing north, and the other sign will be located at the southwest corner of North Halsted and West Willow Street, pointing south.

Martha Lavey joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in 1993 and served as Artistic Director from 1995 to 2015. Under her transformative leadership, Steppenwolf became a national leader in producing new plays and commissioning playwrights, doubled the size of its ensemble and diversified its base of artists, added two performance spaces, expanded and deepened its partnerships in public schools and the community, created Steppenwolf for Young Adults, and instituted a platform for engaging audiences after every performance. She oversaw the production of hundreds of plays and transferred dozens of Steppenwolf productions to Broadway and abroad, gaining national and international recognition for the company and Chicago as a vital theater destination.
During Martha Lavey’s tenure, Steppenwolf was awarded the National Medal of the Arts, the only theater to ever receive the honor, as well as the Illinois Arts Legend Award, Equity Special Award and nine of the company’s 12 Tony Awards. Lavey catapulted Steppenwolf to the forefront of new play development and production with a robust commissioning program that cultivates ongoing creative relationships with some of the most compelling playwrights today. Lavey oversaw the conception of and programming for the Garage Theater, an intimate space in 1998 that provided an additional platform for outside companies, new works and audience engagement. Several programs were established during her tenure, including Steppenwolf for Young Adults, an innovative and influential program for teens and their families; The School at Steppenwolf, an acclaimed training residency based in ensemble traditions; The Professional Leadership program for emerging arts managers and designers; The First Look Rep of New Work for plays in development; and the Garage Rep, presenting Chicago’s vibrant Off-Loop theater companies, among others. Lavey was named one of the ‘100 Most Powerful People’ by Chicago Magazine twice, was selected as one of the city's ‘10 Most Powerful Women in the Arts’ by the Chicago Sun-Times and was awarded the title of ‘2010 Chicagoan of the Year’ by the Chicago Tribune. Lavey and former Steppenwolf Executive Director David Hawkanson were recipients of the 2015 ‘Citizen Advocate Award’ presented by the Arts Alliance Illinois for their extraordinary contributions to the arts locally and nationally. In May 2016 she received an honor from the City of Chicago for her two decades of service as artistic director.

While leading one of the most acclaimed theater companies in the world, Martha Lavey also performed in more than 30 Steppenwolf productions including Middletown, Endgame, Up, Good Boys and True, Love-Lies-Bleeding, Lost Land, I Never Sang for My Father, The Memory of Water, Supple in Combat, Time of My Life, A Clockwork Orange, Talking Heads, SLAVS!, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Love Letters, and Aunt Dan and Lemon. Elsewhere in Chicago she performed at the Goodman, Victory Gardens, Northlight and Remains theaters and in New York at the Women’s Project and Productions.

Martha Lavey served a Board President for the Theatre Communications Group from 2009 – 2011. She served on grants panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, The Theatre Communications Group, Three Arts Club, USA Artists and the City Arts panel of Chicago. She earned a doctorate in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and was a member of the National Advisory Council for the School of Communication at Northwestern University. She was a recipient of the Sarah Siddons Award, an Alumni Merit Award and an Honorary Doctorate from Northwestern University.
Martha Lavey passed away on April 25, 2017 due to complications from a stroke. Faithful friends, audience members, donors, staff, artists, mentees, members of the Steppenwolf family and the national theatre community were all indelibly impacted by Martha's passion, commitment, vision and unmatched intellect. She will be dearly missed. Services for Martha were held in May 2017 in her parent’s home of Vienna, Virginia.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is the nation’s premier ensemble theater. Formed by a collective of actors in 1976, the ensemble today features 47 members who represent a remarkable cross-section of actors, directors and playwrights. Thrilling and powerful productions from Balm in Gilead to August: Osage County—and accolades that include the National Medal of Arts and 12 Tony Awards—have made the theater legendary. Steppenwolf produces hundreds of performances and events annually in its three spaces: the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Artistic programing includes a seven-play season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a multi-genre performances series. Education initiatives include the nationally recognized work of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, which engages 15,000 participants annually from Chicago’s diverse communities; the esteemed School at Steppenwolf; and Professional Leadership Programs for arts administration training. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Executive Director. Eric Lefkofsky is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. 

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chicago Celebrates and Mourns Martha Lavey This Friday With Marquee Dimming


Marquee lights dimmed and a moment of silence to be observed at theatres across Chicago and the suburbs

Friday, April 28, 2017
30 minutes before curtain time

WHAT: Chicago theatres in the city and suburbs will honor former Steppenwolf Artistic Director and ensemble member Martha Lavey by dimming the marquee lights and observing a moment of silence

WHEN: Friday, April 28, 2017, 30 minutes before the start time of the evening production at each theatre

WHERE: Theatres throughout Chicagoland, including Steppenwolf Theatre, Broadway in Chicago, Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Northlight Theatre and Writers Theatre, among others.

DETAILS: Martha Lavey, who served as Artistic Director of Steppenwolf Theatre from 1995-2015, is considered to be one of the most important influencers in the history of Chicago theatre. As an actor and Artistic Director, Martha appeared in more than 30 productions at Steppenwolf and was known to support and nurture artists, administrators and other theatres throughout Chicago. She was a champion of the theatre community, and, as such, the community will remember and honor her with the light dimming and moment of silence.
OTHER: Steppenwolf’s curtain on Friday is at 7:30pm. The lights will be dimmed and a moment of silence will be observed at 7:00pm.  Member theatres of the League of Chicago Theatres will likewise participate in honor of Lavey’s extraordinary life and legacy.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

OPENING: Chicago Debut of ANNE " MR. BURNS" WASHBURN'S Newest Work, 10 OUT OF 12 at Theater Wit

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar:

10 OUT OF 12


Chicago theater luminaries Martha Lavey, John Mahoney, Barbara Robertson and Peter Sagal will play key roles in Theater Wit's much anticipated Midwest debut of 10 Out of 12, the newest, most adventurous work by Anne Washburn, author of Wit's 2014 smash hit Mr. Burns, a post-electric play.

Theater Wit's Midwest premiere of 10 Out of 12 by (top, from left) Anne Washburn, directed by Jeremy Wechsler, 

features (row 2, from left) Chicago theater all-stars Martha Lavey, John Mahoney, Barbara Robertson and Peter Sagal in pre-recorded roles, integrated with the live on-stage action played by (row 3) Dado, Gregory Fenner, Kyle Gibson, Shane Kenyon, Erin Long, (row 4) Riley McIlveen, Adam Shalzi, Stephen Walker, Eunice Woods and Christine Yrem-Ydstie. 

Hailed by the New York Times as a "wholly original love song to the maddening art of the theater," 10 Out of 12 is an extraordinarily funny and touching workplace comedy. With its story of the challenges of bringing a new play to life, Washburn's near-perfect recreation of a technical rehearsal is also a moving tribute to the complexity and beauty of human endeavor.  

"No one in Chicago has ever seen anything like 10 out of 12. Simultaneously exactingly real-to-life and riotously funny, Anne Washburn's detonation of a single technical rehearsal is promising to be a unique and thrilling viewing experience," said Jeremy Wechsler, Artistic Director of Theater Wit and director of 10 Out of 12. 

"This is the most technically extravagant piece of design we've ever done at Theater Wit," he added. "For instance, armed with 98 individual headsets, our audience will get to experience the play in three distinct auditory spaces simultaneously. As a special bonus, Anne is working with us to customize the play to our city's own rich theatrical history (and contemporary reality), which is going to provide an immediacy and context that will make 10 out of 12 a must-see show for every Chicago theatergoer who loves Chicago Theater."

Performances are March 3-April 23, 2017: Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Exceptions: Sunday previews on March 5 and March 12 are at 7 p.m. There is no performance on March 16. 

Theater Wit is located at 1229 N. Belmont Ave., in the heart of the new Belmont Theatre District in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. Tickets are $12-$70. To purchase tickets, a Theater Wit Membership or Flex Pass, visit or call 773.975.8150. 

Behind the scenes of  10 Out of 12

10 Out of 12 will feature the recorded voices of a clutch of Chicago on stage icons cast in key backstage roles: 

Former Steppenwolf Artistic Director Martha Lavey will voice the lighting designer.

John Mahoney, best known for TV's Frasier, will play back stage crew person #3.

Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, is the sound designer. 

Noted Chicago classical actor Barbara Robertson will voice the costume designer. 

At every performance, each audience member will be given their own headset to hear their pre-recorded backstage chatter, mixed in real time with live actors on stage for a very meta look at seemingly the most mundane of processes and the hopes and visions that emerge from the 10 hours commonly known as "tech."

On stage, one of the city's edgiest storefront theater pioneers, Dado, takes on the role of the stage manager. Dado is joined by Gregory Fenner as Jake, an actor; Kyle Gibson as another actor, Ben; Shane Kenyon as the director; Erin Long as the assistant stage manager; Riley McIlveen as electrician #2, Adam Shalzi as assistant director; Stephen Walker as the troublesome lead actor, Paul; Eunice Woods as supporting actor, Siget; and Christine Yrem-Ydstie as the female lead, Eva. 

For a show that pulls the curtain on the tech process, major props are due for Wit's production team: Adam Vesness (set), Izumi Inaba (costumes), Diane Fairchild (lights), Brenda Didier (choreography), Andra Velis-Simon (original music and music director), Joe Court (sound), Vivian Knouse (props), Greg Pinsoneault (scenic charge), Andrew Glasenhardt (technical director), Kristof Janezic (master electrician) Majel Cuza (production manager) and Katie Klemme (stage manager). 

Anne Washburn (playwright) play, Mr. Burns...a post electric play, was produced by Theater Wit, Playwrights Horizons, Woolly Mammoth (DC) and The Almeida (London). Her other plays include Antilia Pneumatica, The Internationalist, A Devil at Noon, Apparition, The Communist Dracula Pageant, I Have Loved Strangers, The Ladies, The Small and a transadaptation of Euripides' Orestes. Awards include the 2015 Whiting Award, 2015 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation Theater Award, the Guggenheim, a NYFA Fellowship, a Time Warner Fellowship, Susan Smith Blackburn finalist, and residencies at MacDowell and Yaddo. She is an associate artist with The Civilians, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, Chochiqq, and is an alumna of New Dramatists and 13P. 

Jeremy Wechsler (director) most recently staged Theater Wit's workshop of Mitchell Fain's This Way Outta Santaland and the extended Midwest premiere of Mat Smart's Naperville. Other directing credits at Wit include the company's election night reading of The Trump Card by Mike Daisey, The New Sincerity by Alena Smith, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence by Madeleine George, Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn, Madeline George's Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England, and that show's summer remount at Art Square Theatre in Las Vegas. Wechsler also staged Wit's acclaimed Completeness and The Four of Us (Itamar Moses), Tigers Be Still (Kim Rosenstock), This (Melissa James Gibson), Spin (Penny Penniston), Feydeau-Si-Deau (Georges Feydeau), Men of Steel (Qui Nguyen), Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) (Will Eno), Two for the Show (James Fitzpatrick and Will Clinger) and The Santaland Diaries. A veteran director in Chicago with over fifty productions, his work has been nominated for and won multiple awards for design, performance, adaptation and best new plays.

About Theater Wit
Theater Wit, Chicago's "smart art" theater, is a major hub of the Chicago neighborhood theater scene, where audiences enjoy a smorgasbord of excellent productions in three, 99-seat spaces, see a parade of talented artists and mingle with audiences from all over Chicago.
"A thrilling addition to Chicago's roster of theaters" (Chicago Tribune) and "a terrific place to see a show" (New City), Theater Wit is now in its sixth season at its home at 1229 N. Belmont, in the heart of the new Belmont Theatre District in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. 

The company's most recent hits there include Naperville by Mat Smart, The New Sincerity by Alena Smith, Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence and Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England by Madeleine George, and Completeness and The Four of Us by Itamar Moses. 

In 2014, Theater Wit was awarded the National Theatre Award by the American Theatre Wing for strengthening the quality, diversity and dynamism of American theater. Theater Wit also brings together Chicago's best storefront companies at its Lakeview home, including 2016-17 resident companies About Face and Shattered Globe. 

In addition to its popular Membership program, Theater Wit also offers a 10-play Flex Pass for $215 to anything presented in the building, a savings of up to 40%. To purchase a Theater Wit Membership, inquire about a Flex Pass or to buy single tickets, visit or call 773.975.8150. 

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