Martha Wade Steketee

Critic. Dramaturg. Researcher.

New York, NY

Martha Wade Steketee

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



“The Home Place”: Persnickety Plot Paralyzes Political Play

Friel overreaches in a play of the rising working class, landed gentry, and women’s roles.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

Advice and Consent: Nia Vardalos Finds “Tiny Beautiful Things”

Tiny Beautiful Things has returned in quiet triumph to the Public Theater after last season’s sold-out engagement in the tiny Shiva Theater. Co-conceived with Marshall Heyman and director Thomas Kail, actress Nia Vardalos adapted novelist Cheryl Strayed’s anthologized advice columns (“Dear Sugar”) into a play of small moments.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

Son to Forgive His Betraying Mother? Ask “The Treasurer”

What happens to a 13-year-old boy when his mother leaves the family for another life? “She left and poof, there went our family,” says our narrator, called Son (Peter Friedman), the abandoned adolescent now a middle-aged man. In a theatrical musing on mortality and the limits of forgiveness, Max Posner’s play The Treasurer explores what happened next.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

“Mary Jane,” Mom to Chronically Sick Child, Gently Explodes

There’s quiet devastation in the all-female voices of Amy Herzog’s Mary Jane, now playing at Off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop after a run last spring at Yale Repertory Theatre. Herzog’s play does explode, but gently, exposing life around the edges of achingly ordinary domestic details. Carrie Coon assumes the potent, resilient, resonant role of Mary Jane, mother of a chronically ill two-year-old that we never see on stage — except as a pile of clothing on a hospital bed late in the play.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

Teaching Manners to Build a Community

"Laughter during a confession or vulnerable moment tells you people are listening." MCC Theater's new drama focuses on a one-of-a-kind charm school.
TDF Stages Link to Story

Searching for a Shore, This Family Settles Into Silence

On the Shore of the Wide World, first staged in Manchester and London in 2005, is the first Atlantic Theater Company show of the 2017-18 season. with American actors edging into various regional accents and a British reserve. Sudsy plot points drive a narrative involving three generations of the working-class Holmes family in rural England, including pregnancies, abortions, births, early marriages, threatened dalliances, and an event that the audience should experience as a surprise, so no spoilers here.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

Women in Charge

Two playwrights, Kate Hamill and Karen Zacarías, prove that female characters are limited neither by their senses nor their destiny. Two theatremakers coming to OSF next season assemble new work out of existing genres with women’s voices, for women performers. Their plays are infused with feminism, humor and social commentary in equal measure.
Prologue Link to Story

Melissa Manchester, Her Fellas, and Unexpected Joy

“I finally made it to Birdland!”. Melissa Manchester, who has had a career of many decades, with more than a score of albums, and performances around the world, exclaimed early into her set in the intimate jazz venue an excitement at being in the room that almost matches the electric anticipation of her audience members.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story

Are You Ready for a Resurrection?

"We want to see connections, to see patterns, to connect to people, and to feel empathy. It's so natural." How a multimedia artist is bringing a Long Island family back to life. Alison S. Kobayashi has an offbeat hobby. "For the past 11 years, I've been collecting found audio recordings, letters, and objects -- usually things that have some sort of trace of the previous owners," she says matter-of-factly, as if everyone does this.
TDF Stages Link to Story

Sugar Sing Along Loses the Beat

Tony Roberts, one of the original stars of Sugar, the 1972 Broadway musical based entirely on the Billy Wilder, cross-dressing, Prohibition-era comedy film Some Like It Hot, hosted the “54 Sings Sugar” chapter of the 54 Below series of barely-staged, sung-through performances of sometimes rarely seen musicals.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story

An Experimental Argument: Ethan’s Lipton’s Outer Space Odyssey Toward a Sustainable Life

Ethan Lipton has assembled a creative family of musicians and designers who have worked with him on a series of projects in New York and around the country. David Zinn has designed sets and costumes and Leigh Silverman has directed Lipton’s plays for over a decade, from 100 Aspects of the Moon in 2005 to the musical Tumacho in 2016 with New York City’s Clubbed Thumb.
HowlRound Link to Story

“If Only”: Ann, Samuel, and the Love That Might Have Been

Stories about crossing class, caste and racial divides offer rich theatrical and cinematic possibilities. Far From Heaven, a recent example as a 2002 movie and 2013 Off Broadway musical, explores an American upper-class 1950s suburban wife and mother, her closeted gay husband, and her socially thwarted relations with a genteel Negro workman.
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 been a member of theater awards committees (Jeff in Chicago, Drama Desk in New York), script reader for theaters, festivals, and competitions, and works with playwrights and authors on works in development. Currently serves on the boards of LMDA (, ATCA (, and LPTW (

Steketee 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.