Ensemble Unveiled: How Steppenwolf gets its members | Newcity Stage
By Brian Hieggelke The first thing you notice when you meet Martha Lavey is her hair. She's a very petite woman, but you realize that later. Her hair is epic, a nest of swirling, curling grays and blacks that give her visage an otherworldliness, a sense of supernatural wisdom, like Mother Earth. Mother Steppenwolf. She's been artistic director since 1995, far longer than anyone else in that role, and she's presided over the maturation of the company from a troubled, supremely talented teenager into an institution likely to outlive its founders. She's one of the most powerful people in Chicago theater, yet she's as gentle a spirit as you're likely to meet. One of the powers she wields, or at least holds the secret to, is ensemble membership, the Holy Grail of Chicago theater for many. There are forty-three ensemble members, many of them dating back to the early days of the company. Since Steppenwolf's formal inception in 1975, the cumulative total, including those (rarely) lost to