Martha Lavey, 1957 – 2017

Martha Lavey, 1957 – 2017

Martha Lavey, Steppenwolf ensemble member and recently retired Artistic Director, passed away today due to complications from a stroke suffered last Wednesday, April 19. Lavey was still battling complications from a stroke in May of 2015. According to a statement from the theater: “She spent her last days as she lived, in the company and comfort of family, ensemble members and people who love her deeply.”

Lavey became the Steppenwolf Artistic Director in 1995, marching the powerhouse Chicago organization into the new millennium, cementing it unequivocally as one of the very top ensemble theaters in the world. She was one of the few actors to lead a prominent American regional theater. She was well-known for her eye for talent and ability to match artists with each other, devising some of the most exciting collaborations in Chicago theater history. On stage, Lavey appeared at Steppenwolf in The March, Middletown, Endgame, Up, Good Boys and True, Love-Lies-Bleeding, Lost Land, I Never Sang for My Father, The House of Lily, Valparaiso, The Memory of Water, The Designated Mourner, Supple in Combat, Time of My Life, A Clockwork Orange, Talking Heads, SLAVS!, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Ghost in the Machine, A Summer Remembered, Love Letters, Aunt Dan and Lemon and Savages. 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. She served on grants panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), Three Arts Club, USA Artists and the City Arts panel of Chicago. She was awarded 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 and an Alumni Merit Award from Northwestern University.

The Steppenwolf statement continued, “As faithful friends, audience members, donors, staff, artists, mentees and members of the Steppenwolf community, we were all indelibly impacted by Martha’s passion, commitment, vision and unmatched intellect. Martha cared deeply for each and every one of us, no matter our relationship to her or the theater. She will be dearly missed.”

Services for Martha will be held near her parent’s home in Vienna, Virginia at S.t Mark Catholic Church. A memorial will be held at Steppenwolf, with a date and time to be determined.


About author

Jason Epperson

Jason is a producer, manager, and designer with 17 years of experience in Chicago, New York, and in the touring market. In 2015, he founded Lotus Theatricals - the publisher of Performink, and an independent commercial producing company - with Abigail Trabue.