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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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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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The Maria Irene Fornes Play Marathon We Need Right Now

On Mon., Aug. 27, a 12-hour marathon of staged readings at Public Theater will celebrate the life and work of Cuban-born playwright Maria Irene Fornes. The event falls amidst an encore week of screenings of an extraordinary documentary about Fornes, called The Rest I Make Up, that premiered at the Museum of Modern Art earlier this year.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Garcia Channels Bennett: “It’s All About the Material”

At his best, we are rapt by Garcia’s quiet singing style, often percussive piano playing, and his consciously meandering set (there are a number of last-minute additions, he tells us) designed to honor octogenarian performer Tony Bennett’s mastery of communicating material to his audiences.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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‘Pretty Woman: The Musical’ Is So Unpretty

There’s a moment early in the first act of Pretty Woman: The Musical — adapted by the late Garry Marshall and J.F. Lawton from Lawton’s screenplay for the 1990 Julia Roberts film that has landed on Broadway with a neon-colored thud — that clues us into the show’s stumbling course and conflicting tone and messages.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Be More Chill is Infectious Joy On Stage and Off

You will hear, see, and feel the future of musical theater. In just over two hours, our adolescent protagonist loses and finds his way, his parent and best friend join forces to bring him back, several girls find each other and their own power, and evil is repelled by good.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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Marcus Gardley Constructs ‘The House That Will Not Stand’

In Marcus Gardley’s The House That Will Not Stand at New York Theatre Workshop, eight characters — seven women of color and one dead white man lying in state — populate a splendid New Orleans transmutation of Federico García Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba. Lorca’s play, published in 1934 and first produced in 1945, involves a Spanish widow, the multi-year mourning period she imposes on her five daughters to honor her deceased husband, and how the children respond.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Destruction and Rebirth in Coney Island

"I'm interested in how we frame narratives and who is empowered to tell any particular story." Groff's latest play, Fire in Dreamland, is a time-traveling meditation on the cycle of destruction and rebirth seen through the eyes of local do-gooder Kate (Obie winner Rebecca Naomi Jones), who tries to help a Dutchman named Jaap (Enver Gjokaj) complete his passion project about an iconic amusement park that went up in flames.
TDF Stages 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.