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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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Parity, Politics, and Survival: WiTFESTNYC 2017

This June, the Women in Theatre Festival (with its creatively capitalized WiTFESTNYC tag) will unfurl its second year of programming, helmed by Project Y Theatre Company artistic director Michole Biancosino. WiTFESTNYC grew out the company’s work in gender parity. “We had a gender parity reading series where we required plays to have 50 percent or more women in the cast or be written by women,” Biancosino explains.
Brooklyn Rail Link to Story
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How Diep Tran Hones Her Theater Criticism — With Anger

It is fashionable to debate the importance of cultural criticism. The debate questions what criticism is and who is and is not a critic, challenges us to imagine what the audience for criticism should be, and considers proper critical comportment. We believe critics themselves must not be sidelined from the debate.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Karen Mason and Songs of Love Just in Time

I’ve spent the past 12 hours melting into the memory of Karen Mason’s voice. Her current show Mason in May runs for the rest of the month in Don’t Tell Mama, the intimate New York cabaret space that she helped to open in 1982. The long narrow main theater space wraps its low-lit warmth around audience and performer, underscoring each sigh, each smile, each wise articulation.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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Jamie deRoy Hosts the Toast of Broadway Old and New

Broadway performances past and present were evoked in the newest “Jamie deRoy & Friends” cabaret show on the intimate Birdland stage. This established, curated, and regular series of ensemble shows hosted by the personable deRoy has appeared in a range of venues around town. Sunday’s show took its theme from the theater awards season and the Tonys, featuring award winners and aspirants from across the years who delivered rare tunes from forgotten shows as well as beloved standards.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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Making More Space for Latinx Artists

"How can our Latino writers be in conversation with the writers that are produced in mainstream theatre?" A traumatized doctor named Moisés sits in a washtub filled with pineapples that he repeatedly crushes open and bites into. A badly wounded character whimpers in pain, unattended, in an upstage courtyard while paralyzed townspeople listen.
TDF Stages Link to Story
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Finding the Personal in the Political

"Smaller revolutions within people accumulate and have impacts that echo in a community." How one social justice theatre company uses real-life stories to inspire its art. Last summer, Houses on the Moon, a socially focused, community-committed theatre company, began developing a pair of projects about gun violence.
TDF Stages Link to Story
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Review: The Price at American Airlines Theatre

Arthur Miller wrote The Price in the late 1960s when he was in his early 50s and America was erupting in civil demonstration about wars and race relations. His domestic drama of legacies and antagonisms between brothers was hemmed in and energized by that cultural reality. The Roundabout revival directed by Terry Kinney, deflates the animating tensions.
Exeunt Magazine Link to Story
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Roundtable: Is Jesse Green the right choice for the New York Times?

As yet another white man is hired to the most prestigious job in US theatre criticism, Exeunt's New York writers ask when the conversation will really change. [Steketee offerings at the end.]
Exeunt Magazine Link to Story
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Fornes Meets O’Neill in Talbott’s Gravedigger’s Lullaby

For the trio of society’s cast-offs at the core of Jeff Talbott’s 90-minute play The Gravedigger’s Lullaby, life is having a pot with barely enough stew, a work day sweating over laundry or digging graves, and an evening enduring an inconsolable baby’s cries.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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Chess Match No. 5 – Movement, Light, Sound, A Board Game

The experiential onslaught of Chess Match No. 5 begins as you enter the steeply pitched seating of the June Havoc Theatre. Suspended iridescent strings of bare bulbs – a not infrequent element of set designs over the past few years – are illuminated before the show begins at high intensity. Audience members to a person squint, shield their eyes, settle in, prepare for something new.
Theater Pizzazz Link to Story
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Chris Rawson, Theater Critic, On Honoring August Wilson

It is fashionable to debate the importance of cultural criticism. The debate questions what criticism is and who is and is not a critic, challenges us to imagine what the audience for criticism should be, and considers proper critical comportment. We believe critics themselves must not be sidelined from the debate.
The Clyde Fitch Report Link to Story
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Wrestling With the Legacy of a Real-Life Attorney

"They were very upset with some of his later cases, had fights with him." Playwright Jeffrey Sweet was inspired by a shock of hair and a lanky swagger. "It started off as a fairly pedestrian impulse," Sweet says of his play Kunstler, about the activist attorney William Kunstler. "As I was watching the documentary Disturbing the Universe by Kunstler's daughters Sarah and Emily, I thought: he looks like Jeff McCarthy on a really bad day."
TDF Stages Link to Story

About

Martha Wade Steketee

Martha Wade Steketee works as a researcher, policy analyst, editor, theater critic, and dramaturg.

She 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 developing their work. She currently serves on the boards of ATCA (americantheatrecritics.org), LMDA (lmda.org), and LPTW (theatrewomen.org).

She writes for numerous outlets. Her site UrbanExcavations.com primarily focuses on film and live performance.

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 in Chicago at the Arie Crown.