While trodding the boards at storefronts and stages, they make us laugh, cry and think.
A few years back, when we were writing a story about Steppenwolf, we asked Lavey, the actor-producer who’s run that company since 1995, what all the women of that fabled ensemble have in common. After a heightened, foreboding pause, Lavey narrowed her eyes, pursed her lips and said in a dour, almost menacing voice, “Sense of humor.” She’s right, of course; there’s no way a 41-member group of artists as unruly as Steppenwolf—the old stories of thrown chairs in meetings are the stuff of legend—could have survived 30-plus years without the ability to laugh at itself. And since Lavey has made Steppenwolf a 21st-century boys’ club run by chicks, it’s a good thing she and the rest of the ladies can take a joke.—Christopher Piatt
Steppenwolf’s Kafka on the Shore is in previews, opening Saturday 27.
Steppenwolf players Martha Lavey, Tracy Letts and John Mahoney discuss their quintessential Chicago moments.