Martha Wade Steketee

Critic. Dramaturg. Researcher.

New York, NY

Martha Wade Steketee

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



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

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

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

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?

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

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

As Joan of Arc’s Mother, Glenn Close Sears Your Soul

As Isabelle Arc, Glenn Close is a no-nonsense, straight-talking, country woman. She speaks to us from France in the early 1400s amid the Hundred Years War in Jane Anderson’s play Mother of the Maid, now running at the Public Theater. This is Isabelle’s story: the subtitle of the play is “the sorry tale of Joan of Arc as seen through the eyes of her mum.”.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

Travisville Explores Race, Urban Renewal and Generational Divide

What happens when private business interests align with public interests, and public servants determine to destroy existing communities for commercial gain? There are too few dramatic treatments of the effects of urban renewal that ran through most cities in the U.S in the mid-20th century from the perspective of the displaced homeowners.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story

She’s Bernhardt, She’s Hamlet, and She Wears the Pants

A search for an absent father and finding solace on the stage are both captured beautifully in Teresa Rebeck’s new play Bernhardt/Hamlet. The problem is, there’s more to the play. A lot more. born in 1844 to a Dutch courtesan, died in 1923, buried in Père-Lachaise in Paris — had a life and career so outsized that the field of poster design was revolutionized to capture her.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

Political Machines, Private Lives: Facing the Truth of ‘The True’

The spine of Sharr White’s new play The True, produced Off-Broadway by The New Group, is the whir of a sewing machine. It’s the tool of the legendary Albany-based political activist Dorothea “Polly” Noonan, played with power and sensitivity by Edie Falco, and it’s also a practical symbol. The efficient whir underscores how she runs her home – in the same straightforward, hardworking, often profane, slyly humorous, deeply strategic way she worked for more than 40 years for and with the Democratic Party machine in the New York capital.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

Harvard and Yale Make Cantata Out of Regatta for the Fourth Time

The show starts on the stairs at 54 Below. Twice in the past few weeks, these aural pre-shows have been somber celebrations of great diva lives. On August 16, the soundtrack was Aretha Franklin, whose death earlier in the day had the world reeling. This evening, a recorded live performance by Marin Mazzie entertained the line that filled the stairwell.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story

Pointed Political Parallels in an Off-Broadway ‘Henry VI’

In Stephen Brown-Fried’s elegant new two-part adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy for Off-Broadway’s National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO), we don’t have to reach very far for present-day parallels.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story


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 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.