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Martha Wade Steketee

Critic. Dramaturg. Researcher.

New York, NY

Martha Wade Steketee

Lover of ghost lights, magic of live performance, and storytelling in song.

Featured

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Critical Eye: Rupert Murdoch on Broadway in Tony-nominated “Ink”

James Graham’s play “Ink” opened April 24 at Broadway’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Quill asked New York-based arts journalist Martha Wade Steketee to take a look and report back. Here are her thoughts. Playwright James Graham’s “Ink” imagines tabloid emperor Rupert Murdoch’s origin story, rooted in a 1969 London we barely see, amidst London landmarks that are named but not evoked, told by characters sometimes half described.
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Honoring the (Re)Vision: Catherine Zuber on Costume Design Adaptability

AS AUDIENCE MEMBERS, we may imagine that set, light, projection, sound, and costume designs are executed and then solidified, remaining unchanged once designers move to the next project. In practice, designs can continue to evolve far past opening night.
Dramatics Link to Story
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Halley Feiffer: Writing New Roles One Play at a Time

Playwright-actor Halley Feiffer is currently shouldering both of her hyphenated roles in The Pain of My Belligerence, a world premiere running at Off-Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons, directed by her longtime collaborator Trip Cullman, through May 12
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Joanna Gleason’s “Out of the Eclipse” With a Song in Her Heart

Deep moody melodies, a dark Yiddish lullaby, a few standards, and a smattering of singer-songwriter staples inform the splendid cabaret offering by veteran performer Joanna Gleason at 54 Below. This Broadway baby and artful songstress has crafted a show out of her life, as the best cabaret can do, by rooting itself in this moment, looking backward and forward and cherishing the present, with delightful artistry.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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Of Sound Mind: Fitz Patton Sees Theater As Tonal Adventure

Fitz Patton is a Drama Desk and Lortel-winning composer and sound designer who has built an extensive and varied body of work on Broadway, Off-Broadway and across the country. While building his portfolio, Patton also channeled his frustration with the static conventions of theatrical production photography into Chance Magazine, a publishing experiment that he calls a “serial art book.”.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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‘The Price of Thomas Scott’ Offers Social Themes, a Dutiful Daughter, and Dance Breaks

The Mint Theater will unfurl a trio of plays this season by Elizabeth Baker (1876-1962), a woman of religious upbringing who worked in her family dry goods business as a teenager and in London offices in her twenties and thirties, where she discovered theater and began to write plays. The Price of Thomas Scott, the 1913 play first up of the Mint program trio, is quietly directed by the Mint Artistic Director Jonathan Bank, animated with enthusiastic dance breaks by choreographer Tracy Bersley, and full of social themes without consistently convincing character arcs.
Urban Excavations Link to Story
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Lear deBessonet Makes Theater as a Hopeful Public Proposal

In a previous series of CFR stories called Critical I, theater critics were asked to reflect on their work — what is relevant; who is and is not a critic; the audience for critical writing. We asked critics to tell their own stories and to offer their personal views of criticism. In this new series, I will have conversations with theater creators on stage and backstage about their influences, personal and professional visions, successes and challenges, and what it takes to do what they do.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Heather Raffo in ‘Noura’ Unpacks Family Legacies with Radical Hope and Forgiveness

On the 2017 list by The Kilroys of unproduced and underproduced new works by women, trans and non-binary playwrights, Heather Raffo’s elegantly constructed Noura asks a salient question: Do we live for each other or do we live for ourselves?
Urban Excavations Link to Story
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In ‘Network’ on Broadway, Design Battles Howard Beale

The countdown clocks are everywhere at the Belasco Theatre these days. Whether on a screen or presented verbally by characters playing TV technicians or embodied by main characters playing veteran newsmen and newswomen, digital drives Lee Hall’s adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 film Network. The design almost overwhelms the story.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Women Hired Off-Broadway 2013-14 through 2017-18

Women Count IV: Women Hired Off-Broadway 2013-14 through 2017-18 (revised and updated) 1 of 14 By Martha Wade Steketee with Judith Binus. Since 2014, the Women Count report series collects and publishes analyses of production credits to assess gender parity in theater hiring decisions. We ask: whose plays are being done, who is directing them, and how many women are being hired for theatrical off-stage roles in New York’s theaters beyond Broadway?
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Breaking Bad Brecht: Off-Broadway ‘Arturo Ui’ Goes Kerplop

It is hard to appreciate a play meant to capture a self-promoting sociopath’s rise to power, especially a broad, biting political satire, when living through a time of political lies, overt repression and daily decimation of the rule of law. But this is The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Bertolt Brecht’s broad-strokes burlesque, in an Off-Broadway revival from director John Doyle and his Classic Stage Company.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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After 50 Years, Elaine May Returns to Broadway

After a half-century absence, Elaine May has returned to Broadway, only to fade away before our eyes. Each beat of Kenneth Lonergan’s long sob of a play, The Waverly Gallery, buries her character, Greenwich Village denizen Gladys Green, a little more. All the while, each of the other characters memorialize her with loving recollections, before her off-stage death.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

About

Martha Wade Steketee

Martha Wade Steketee works as a researcher, policy analyst, editor, theater critic, dramaturg. She writes for numerous outlets including her own site UrbanExcavations.com that focuses on theater, film, and live performance.

Steketee has served on theater awards committees (Jeff in Chicago, Drama Desk and Henry Hewes Design Award in New York); reads scripts for theaters, festivals, and competitions; and works with writers on plays and books in development. Has served on the boards of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and League of Professional Theatre Women, and is currently on the Executive Committee of the American Theatre Critics Association.

She lives in New York City with her husband, no pets, too many books, and four original Art Shay 1962 backstage photographs of Judy Garland at the Arie Crown in Chicago.