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City of Chicago Honors Martha Lavey, Steppenwolf's 40th Anniversary

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and members of the Chicago City Council today honored Steppenwolf Theatre Company's 40th Anniversary, recognizing the organization for its invaluable artistic contributions to Chicago. Additionally, in a separate resolution, Mayor Emanuel and the City Council paid special tribute to former Steppenwolf artistic director Martha Lavey on her two decades of transformational leadership from 1995 to 2015. These resolutions were presented to the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Martha Lavey at City Hall as a token of Appreciation for its invaluable contributions to the performing arts scene in Chicago.

Mayor Emanuel and First Lady Amy Rule attended Steppenwolf's 40th Anniversary Gala on Saturday, May 14, which celebrated the nation's premier ensemble theater comprised of 46 actors, directors and playwrights who have redefined the landscape of acting and performance.

"For 40 years, Steppenwolf Theatre Company has been an integral component of Chicago's signature arts and cultural scene," said Mayor Emanuel. "On behalf of the City, I want to thank all of the performers and artists--including the legendary Martha Lavey for her 20-year commitment to refining our city's arts scene. It is with their artistic visions and contributions over the years that Steppenwolf is an icon today for Chicagoans and art fans around the world."

At the Gala, special tribute was paid to former Artistic Director Martha Lavey for her stellar stewardship of Steppenwolf from 1995 to 2015. Moving remarks were made by current Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro and longtime ensemble member Frank Galati who hailed her as "the Saint of Chicago Theatre." The entire theater erupted into a standing ovation in acknowledgement of Martha Lavey's tremendous impact on Steppenwolf, Chicago and the community at large.

Over the course of her 20 years as Artistic Director, Martha Lavey, in partnership with Executive Directors Michael Gennaro and then David Hawkanson, led Steppenwolf Theatre Company as it has become 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 with public schools and the community; championed the creation of Steppenwolf for Young Adults, the School at Steppenwolf and the Professional Leadership Programs. Lavey has overseen 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 her 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.

Martha Lavey is also an accomplished actor having performed in more than 30 productions at Steppenwolf, as well as for the Goodman, Victory Garden, Northlight, New York's Women's Project theatre and more. 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.

She has been deeply involved in the theatre community, serving 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, all the while remaining an advocate for and supporter of Chicago's storefront theater scene. Martha Lavey holds a doctorate in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and is a member of the National Advisory Council for the School of Communication at Northwestern University. She is a recipient of the Sarah Siddons Award, an Alumni Merit Award and an Honorary Doctorate from Northwestern University. She remains a Steppenwolf ensemble member.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is America's longest-standing, most distinguished ensemble theater, producing nearly 700 performances and events annually in its three Chicago theater spaces-the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat 1700 Theatre. Formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, Steppenwolf has grown into an ensemble of 46 actors, writers and directors. Beginning in 2016/17, Steppenwolf expands artistic programming to include a seven-play Season; a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season; Visiting Company engagements; and LookOut, a new multidisciplinary performance series. 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. Steppenwolf has the distinction of being the only theater to receive the National Medal of Arts, in addition to numerous other prestigious honors including an Illinois Arts Legend Award and 12 Tony Awards. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Managing Director. Nora Daley is Chair of Steppenwolf's Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit, and

The 46-member Steppenwolf ensemble includes Joan Allen, Kevin Anderson, Alana Arenas, Randall Arney, Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Robert Breuler, Gary Cole, Kathryn Erbe, K. Todd Freeman, Frank Galati, Francis Guinan, Moira Harris, Jon Michael Hill, Tim Hopper, Tom Irwin, Ora Jones, Terry Kinney, Tina Landau, Martha Lavey, Tracy Letts, John Mahoney, John Malkovich, Sandra Marquez, Mariann Mayberry, Tarell Alvin McCraney, James Vincent Meredith, Laurie Metcalf, Amy Morton, Sally Murphy, Caroline Neff, Bruce Norris, Austin Pendleton, Jeff Perry, William Petersen, Yasen Peyankov, Martha Plimpton, Rondi Reed, Molly Regan, Anna D. Shapiro, Eric Simonson, Gary Sinise, Lois Smith, Rick Snyder, Jim True-Frost and Alan Wilder.

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