Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a Chicago theatre company founded in 1974 by Laurie Metcalf, Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry, and Gary Sinise in the Unitarian church on Half Day Road in Deerfield and is now located in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood on Halsted Street. Its name comes from the Hermann Hesse novel which original member Rick Argosh was reading during the company's inaugural production, And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, in January 1974.
The name Steppenwolf Theatre Company was first used in 1974 at a Unitarian church on Half Day Road in Deerfield The company presented Paul Zindel's And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, with Rick Argosh directing, and Jim Jacobs's and Warren Casey's Grease, with Gary Sinise directing.
The founding members are Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry, and Gary Sinise. The founders recruited six additional members: H.E. Baccus, Nancy Evans, Moira Harris, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf, and Alan Wilder.
In 1975, Steppenwolf incorporated as a nonprofit organization, saving money by taking the name of a failed theater company that had already incorporated. In the summer of 1976, Steppenwolf took up residence in a vacant basement space of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Highland Park, Illinois and produced its first full season of plays.
In 1980, the theater company moved into a 134-seat theater at the Jane Addams Hull House Center on Broadway Avenue in Chicago. Two years later, the company moved to a 211-seat facility at 2851 N. Halsted Street, which was their home until 1991, when construction was completed on the current theater complex at 1650 N. Halsted Street (with administrative offices at 1700 N. Halsted Street.)
In 1996, after successful runs in Chicago and New York, Lyle Kessler's Orphans, directed by Gary Sinise, was the first Steppenwolf production to go international, debuting in London.
Steppenwolf is an ensemble theatre founded by Laurie Metcalf, H.E. Baccus, Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry, and Gary Sinise. Its members have included actors Joan Allen, Kevin Anderson, Alana Arenas, Randall Arney, Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Robert Breuler, Gary Cole, Kathryn Erbe, Audrey Francis, Jim Fitzpatrick, Francis Guinan, Ora Jones, John Mahoney, John Malkovich, Sandra Marquez, Mariann Mayberry, James Vincent Meredith, Laurie Metcalf, Amy Morton, Sally Murphy, Caroline Neff, Austin Pendleton, William Petersen, Martha Plimpton, Rondi Reed, Molly Regan, Karen Rodriguez, Lois Smith, Rick Snyder, Jim True-Frost, Alan Wilder. It also includes playwrights Tina Landau, Tracy Letts, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Bruce Norris, Rajiv Joseph and Eric Simonson, and directors Frank Galati, K. Todd Freeman, Terry Kinney, Martha Lavey, Yasen Peyankov and Anna D. Shapiro among its members.
Notable productions include:
Through its New Plays Initiative, the company maintains ongoing relationships with writers of international prominence while continuing to support the work of aspiring and mid-career playwrights. In 1988, Steppenwolf presented the world premiere of Frank Galati's adaption of The Grapes of Wrath, based on the John Steinbeck novel, which eventually went on to win the Tony Award for Best Play. In 2000 Steppenwolf presented the world premiere of Austin Pendleton's Orson's Shadow, which subsequently was staged off-Broadway and by regional theatres throughout the country.
Tracy Letts' Broadway drama August: Osage County (2007) was ranked number one in Time's Top Ten Theatre Performances of 2007. After moving from the Imperial Theatre next door to The Music Box Theatre for an open-ended run, August: Osage County won five Tony Awards including Best Play of 2007, Best Director (Anna D. Shapiro), Best Leading Actress (Deanna Dunagan), Best Featured Actress (Rondi Reed), and Best Scenic Design (Todd Rosenthal). Letts went on to win the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play.