Martha Lavey remembered at Steppenwolf Theatre

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Steppenwolf Theatre standout Martha Lavey was honored with a street dedication Tuesday morning. Her name is immortalized on a stretch of Halsted near the place where her creative genius flowed for decades.

At the memorial where memories of her artistry took center stage one last time, it was a celebration of a leading lady. Lavey began her career as an actress, but in 1995, she took on a new role - Steppenwolf artistic director - for two decades.

Lavey passed away at age 60 in April. Chicago's theater community and Steppenwolf ensemble members honored her legacy Monday night.

"She brought us onto the national landscape in a very different way than we had ever appeared before. We were a ragtag group of pals," Steppenwolf co-founder Terry Kinney said.

"Martha - along with the founders of the company, Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney and Jeff Perry - really recognized that Steppenwolf had to become a home for writers," Steppenwolf artistic director Anna Shapiro said.

Nurturing new works became as important as the actors.

"We knew we really needed to become a hybrid and we needed the storytellers and Martha set about doing that," Steppenwolf co-founder Jeff Perry said.

During Lavey's tenure, many Steppenwolf productions went to Broadway winning a total of nine Tony awards.

"For dozens of board members, hundreds of staff, now 49 needy, talented, babyish artists. It turned out you need to be a really good listener. And she was a beautiful one, so I miss it, and I'm really grateful I got to live with it," Perry said.
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