Steppenwolf Theatre artistic director Martha Lavey hospitalized after stroke

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Martha Lavey, who has served in the highly influential position of artistic director of Steppenwolf Theatre since 1995 and has been a longtime actress with the ensemble, suffered a stroke Monday night at her home in Chicago.

As announced last year, Lavey, 58, was set to leave her position at the end of this season — to be succeeded by fellow ensemble member and Broadway director Anna D. Shapiro. And she was to be toasted this Saturday evening at the annual Steppenwolf gala.

She is now being treated at an undisclosed Chicago hospital and is in recovery. The ensemble and board of Steppenwolf was given the news Wednesday afternoon.

Although a high-profile figure, Lavey is known to be a very private person, and all efforts have been made to keep the news quiet, particularly as the first three to four days following a stroke are said to be crucial, with rest of the utmost importance.

A statement issued by Steppenwolf said: “Martha is showing clear improvements each day, and her family is in Chicago by her side and has requested that everyone respect her privacy at this crucial time in her recovery process.”

The statement added that those who want to send words of encouragement and well wishes can email her

Lavey, who holds a doctorate in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and is a member of the National Advisory Council for the School of Communication at Northwestern University, has been a recipient of the Sarah Siddons Award and an Alumni Merit Award from Northwestern University. While leading Steppenwolf — where, among other things, she has been highly praised for her efforts to bring Chicago’s many younger and smaller “storefront” theaters into the spotlight by showcasing them at the Steppenwolf Garage — Lavey also has appeared in numerous Steppenwolf productions.


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