Martha Lavey Longtime AD of the Steppenwolf Theatre Has Died

by Michael Eddy
Martha Lavey
Martha Lavey

The Steppenwolf Theatre Company announced that Martha Lavey, ensemble member and former Steppenwolf Artistic Director, passed away today due to complications from a stroke suffered last Wednesday, April 19. This stroke was in addition to the debilitating stroke she suffered in May of 2015, and from which she had been struggling to recover. Lavey, 60 had been the artistic director for Steppenwolf from 1995 – 2014. Chicago theatres in the city and suburbs will honor Lavey by dimming the marquee lights and observing a moment of silence on Friday, April 28, thirty minutes before curtain. Steppenwolf’s curtain on Friday is at 7:30pm. The lights will be dimmed and a moment of silence will be observed at 7:00pm.

Further information from Steppenwolf Theatre Company (

“She spent her last days as she lived, in the company and comfort of family, ensemble members, and people who love her deeply. As faithful friends, audience members, donors, staff, artists, mentees, and members of the Steppenwolf community, we were all indelibly impacted by Martha's passion, commitment, vision, and unmatched intellect. Martha cared deeply for each and every one of us-no matter our relationship to her or the theatre. She will be dearly missed,” with sadness and love, Artistic Director Anna Shapiro and Executive Director David Schmitz.

Martha Lavey is considered to be one of the most important influencers in the history of Chicago theatre.  As an actor and Artistic Director, Martha appeared in more than 30 productions at Steppenwolf and was known to support and nurture artists, administrators and other theatres throughout Chicago. She was a champion of the theatre community, and, as such, the entire theatre community will join Steppenwolf in remembering and honor her with the light dimming and moment of silence, including Broadway in Chicago, Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Northlight Theatre and Writers Theatre, among others.

Services for Lavey will be held near her parent’s home in Vienna, Virginia at St Mark Catholic Church. A memorial to celebrate her life and her impact on Steppenwolf and the Chicago community will be held at Steppenwolf, with a date and time to be determined.

If you have a memory or a thought about Lavey, please share your story with Steppenwolf. Comments will be collected and shared with Lavey 's family and the community.