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Martha Steketee

Critic, dramaturg, researcher, Michigan girl in New York City.

Martha Wade Steketee is a dramaturg, critic, researcher, and theater adjudicator (Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Awards 2008-2009, and current chair of the Drama Desk nominating committee). She works with playwrights, reviews scripts for programs and competitions, serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association and as co-chair of the ATCA Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She was a founding editor of Chance Magazine (“looking at the world through the lens of theater and design”) and serves on two design award committees (Henry Hewes and the new regional ATCA Glenn Loney). Critical and feature writing appears in a range of publications including her own site UrbanExcavations.com. Steketee lives in New York City with an indulgent husband and too many books.

 

“The Camera is My Beloved”
Essay

“The Camera is My Beloved”

Michelle Memran Creates Documentary Art with María Irene Fornés

12 June 2018

Journalist and filmmaker Michelle Memran reflects upon the easy beginning, the messy middle, the focused concluding months, and MOMA premiere screening of her documentary dreamscape film The Rest I Make Up about her great friend, the beloved playwright and teacher María Irene Fornés.

"Positation" in Action
Essay

"Positation" in Action

Director Erin Ortman’s Multi-Year Journey with the Arabian Nights

2 May 2018

Director Erin Ortman loves musical theatre, new plays, theatre families, and William Ball’s idea of “positation” that celebrates the “yes” in artistic collaborations. The development process for One Thousand Nights and One Day produced by Prospect Theater Company in New York City provides a view of Ball’s philosophy in action.

An Experimental Argument
Essay

An Experimental Argument

Ethan’s Lipton’s Outer Space Odyssey Toward a Sustainable Life

8 September 2017

Ethan Lipton returns to his artistic home at the Public Theater in New York City to play with toys, musical storytelling, and space travel.

Stretching the Canvas in Ethan Lipton’s Tumacho
Essay

Stretching the Canvas in Ethan Lipton’s Tumacho

6 September 2016

Ethan Lipton discusses making music, making theatre, and combining the two in his full-length play-with-music Tumacho at Clubbed Thumb.

Shared Vocabulary and Puppetry in Ramesh Meyyappan’s Butterfly
Essay

Shared Vocabulary and Puppetry in Ramesh Meyyappan’s Butterfly

21 June 2016

Ramesh Meyyappan and Gavin Glover discuss their wordless adaptation of Madame Butterfly, replete with kites and puppets, and their hopes for hyphenate theatremakers.

Barriers, Needs, and Next Steps
Essay

Barriers, Needs, and Next Steps

A Convening on the State of Deaf Theatre-Making

6 April 2016

Several dozen artists, administrators, and activists met at the Lark Play Development Center in January 2016 to consider challenges and successes and the state of deaf theatre.

Subversively Smart and Turning the Tide
Essay

Subversively Smart and Turning the Tide

Lauren Gunderson’s Women Heroes

15 March 2016

Playwright Lauren Gunderson and Director Sean Daniels discuss Gunderson’s body of work including I and You, a play about two stumbling teenagers and a nineteenth-century poet.

History, Legacy, and Light
Essay

History, Legacy, and Light

The Consciously-Embodied Art of Erica Fae

12 March 2016

Erica Fae talks about her stage, television, and film career “embodying women who have come before and who have done incredible things.”

Theatre and Social Justice
Essay

Theatre and Social Justice

Everything Has to Come Out of Session

16 January 2016

Martha Steketee talks with Associate Artistic Director Estelle Parsons about a public series on social justice that has been created out of Actors Studio session work.

Percolating and Data
Essay

Percolating and Data

Counting, Coordinating, Collaborating, Community-Building

12 December 2015

Martha Steketee writes about ongoing data collection efforts to track gender disparities in theatre, and emphasizes the need for cooperation between people doing the work in different regions. 

Will Eno’s Theatrical Rhythms
Essay

Will Eno’s Theatrical Rhythms

10 December 2015

Did 2014 reflect a kind of final critical understanding of Eno’s subject matter? Are we all finally ready to experience with him, according to his rhythms and speech patterns, the gentle devastation of small town family life? Perhaps yes to all of the above.

Extending the Frame for Women Playwrights
Essay

Extending the Frame for Women Playwrights

8 October 2015

Martha Steketee explores the lens and artistry of Jody Christopherson in “Necessary Exposure The Female Playwright Project: Portraits of Playwrights Who Identify as Female” in New York City.

Sand Castles in War Zones
Essay

Sand Castles in War Zones

Insanity and Forgiveness

30 July 2015

Martha Steketee on Daniel Talbott’s ghost story of a sand-bound ship of fools and the exquisite possibility of forgiveness. 

Testimonies of Endurance
Essay

Testimonies of Endurance

Forever and the Challenges of Solo Performance

9 June 2015

Martha Steketee on solo performance and Dael Orlandersmith’s one-woman show, Forever.

Developmental Through Lines
Essay

Developmental Through Lines

O’Neill, The Nether, and Bright Half Life

28 April 2015

The author ruminates on two plays that recently concluded Off Broadway runs and their early development at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference. 

Political Cabaret
Essay

Political Cabaret

Herbert Hoover’s Comeback in Leather

3 March 2015

Martha Steketee speaks with playwright Sean Cunningham about Here’s Hoover! The Historic Herbert Hoover 2014 Comeback Special, which recently concluded a brief run in New York City. Herbert Hoover’s return, replete with leather, works like gangbusters.

Happy Accidents, Competition, and the Best Idea Wins
Essay

Happy Accidents, Competition, and the Best Idea Wins

Prayers of Halley Feiffer

24 February 2015

Martha Steketee explores the development and evolution of I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard with playwright Halley Feiffer. The play spans five years and two opening nights, features substance abuse, plenty of familial debate, and one attempt at reconciliation.

The Players Library Collections
Essay

The Players Library Collections

Legitimizing the Art of the Actor for 125 Years

15 February 2015

Martha Steketee looks at The Players, an 125-year-old club for actors and those that love them, and spends some time with all its history and archives.

Site Work to WorkSites
Essay

Site Work to WorkSites

Peculiar Works Project Illuminates the Insides of the City

16 December 2014

3Christs is an adaptation of a study about therapeutic experiments with three men who believed they were Jesus Christ at Ypsilanti State Hospital in the 1960s. Performed in Judson Memorial Church, 3Christs exemplifies the essence of Peculiar Works Project.

Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival
Essay

Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival

A Big Little Festival

21 October 2014

Martha Steketee writes about the logistics and process of the OOB Festival, including quotes from an interview with the team behind it.

Boxing from the Inside
Essay

Boxing from the Inside

Brett Neveu and the Magnetic Presence of the Ring

30 September 2014

He fought two guys; beat the crap out of them. And I looked around, and everybody had just stopped training.. And I thought: oh, my god, this is the show. There’s that magnetic presence of the ring.

Committing to Theater
Essay

Committing to Theater

Making Art and Making Family

5 August 2014

Martha Steketee writes about Daniel Talbott and Samantha Soule looking at the work and companies they've created in New York's off-Broadway scene since meeting at Juilliard in 1998.

Just to the Side of History
Essay

Just to the Side of History

Creating The Mysteries

19 June 2014

Martha Steketee interviews dramaturg Jill Rafson about the process of developing The Mysteries, described as “48 playwrights and 54 actors retelling the entirety of the Bible in a single night.”