Martha Wade Steketee

Critic. Dramaturg. Researcher.

New York, NY

Martha Wade Steketee

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



“Kings” Passes Bechdel Test, Drowns in Design

Playwright Sarah Burgess plums politics for her newest play Kings at the Public Theater. The production of this timely story of Washington, DC lobbyists and the politicians they serve just barely survives an overwhelming design — sounds disrupt, lights blind, and the set is unnecessarily twee. This is a better play than the design allows it to be.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

Adrienne Kennedy’s New Play of Love, Race and Puppets

Details of her own rich biography are fodder for Adrienne Kennedy’s new, poetic theatrical work, He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, running at Theatre for a New Audience. Kennedy’s birth to an uneasy blend of white and Black relatives, in Pittsburgh in 1931, provides her with images and experiences that animate her first play in a decade.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

How a Tennis Match Changed the Conversation

"We were always interested in the play never being really firmly in 1973 -- it's always 2018 looking at 1973." It's fitting that a coed creative team decided to theatricalize the 1973 "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between 29-year-old women's champion Billie Jean King and misogynistic 55-year-old huckster Bobby Riggs.
TDF Stages Link to Story

Orlandersmith Finds Documentary Theater in Ferguson, MO

In her resonant work Forever, first staged at Center Theatre Group in 2014 and then New York Theatre Workshop in spring 2015, playwright and performer Dael Orlandersmith includes herself as a character and observer in scenes that visit Paris, childhood abuse and memories of her mother. Creative intimates from her Forever production join in on this new adventure — Neel Keller (director), Takeshi Kata (sets), Kaye Voyce (costumes), Mary Louise Geiger (lighting).
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

When John Lithgow Called, He Said Yes

Tony-winning director Daniel Sullivan is known for helming complex, multicharacter plays on Broadway, from sumptuous period pieces like last season's revival of The Little Foxes, to new works by the likes of David Auburn, Donald Margulies, and David Lindsay-Abaire. So what's he doing directing a very personal solo show? Oh, just helping his old pal, Tony- and Emmy-winning actor John Lithgow, pay tribute to his dad and the art of storytelling.
TDF Stages Link to Story

Ebersole and Stritch Sing of Snow and Memories at Birdland

Musicians who have played together for years reunite for two Birdland performances this December. Winter tunes, holiday tunes, tunes of remembrance and family and loss. Billy Stritch at the piano with a few choice and delicious vocals is both support and full-fledged stage partner to Christine Ebersole, who can diva with the best of them.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story

Nuclear Powerless: Cleaning the Mess Boomers Left Behind

Big themes and human-scale stories twine with elegance, humor and some horror in Lucy Kirkwood’s play The Children, now running on Broadway in a Manhattan Theatre Club production. It’s the first NYC staging of a play seen most recently at London’s Royal Court Theatre; infidelity, guilt and generational legacy haunt a deceptively straightforward yet frequently surprising play.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

Stacey Kent Dreams Her Dreams

Stacey Kent is at Birdland to promote her 2017 album I Know I Dream, and lends her delicate vocals and spare musical stylings to English, Portuguese, and French tunes from that recording. She also delights with more familiar selections of standards long-time fans have known for years. In this perfect blending of old and new, she and four familiars (husband Jim Tomlinson on saxes and flutes, Art Hirahara on piano, Tom Hubbard on bass, and Anthony Pinciotti on drums) pare the symphonic treatment of Portuguese, French and English lyrics to fit the intimate Birdland venue.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story

Hirabayashi Lives On, Still Defending the US Constitution

Jeanne Sakata’s one-person play Hold These Truths, running in the basement performance space of the Sheen Center in NYC through Dec. 20, delightfully explores an American life — as well as several courtroom dramas, pivotal political events and personal principles. It’s a play about social intolerance, legal oppression and family history, too, all as illuminated by the story of the late Gordon Hirabayashi.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

Miller’s “20th Century Blues”: 40 Years, Four Women Fall Flat

I wanted more depth from Susan Miller’s new play 20th Century Blues, about the long-term friendships among four 60-something women, currently running at the Pershing Square Signature Center. The play’s structure and themes suggest two other plays: Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still, about the wartime and civilian life of a female war photographer set in her loft apartment in NYC, and Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story

Halston on Life and Death and What’s Between

Julie Halston is a librarian of memories, a seeker of wisdom in unexpected places, a literary comedian.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story

Dreamy “Peter Pan” Grows Wild and Full of Bedlam

A new adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play Peter Pan presented by the theater company Bedlam and running The Duke through Dec. 23, takes place within a soundscape of rain, waves and thunder claps. The play’s language is dream-like and poetic and repetitive; the costumes are contemporary and suggestive; the set at once suggestive and literal.
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 Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas ( and American Theatre Critics Association (

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.