Martha Wade Steketee. First name from great grandmother, middle name from mother, surname from father. Pronounced STEK [rhymes with heck] – EH – TEE. So, it should not be a surprise that I have a lifelong empathy for anyone continually asked to spell and to pronounce their name. My sense of the thing is reflected in the name of a now-defunct Facebook group — “Steketee. If you can spell it you must be one of us.”
I am a Michigan girl who loved movies and theater, went off to study literature at Harvard and social science and social welfare at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Michigan, and spent 20 years as a court researcher and domestic policy analyst in university research offices and nonprofit research settings in several cities.
I returned to theater as a dramaturg and critic in my 40s — script reading for Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City theaters and festivals; dramaturging productions and readings in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York; and writing and mentoring young critics in Chicago and New York City. I was a 2014 O’Neill National Critics Institute Fellow, was a member of Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee (2008-2009), and have been a member since 2012 of New York’s Drama Desk, and currently serve as chair of the Drama Desk nominating committee. My fascination with theater design honed during years of writing for and editing Chance Magazine continues with my enthusiastic membership on the Henry Hewes Design Award committee. Out of all these shows and my interest in equity and inclusion in theatrical productions, I have assembled, analyzed and written the Women Count project reports since 2014, and bring that project to the Counting Together collaborative as member since 2019 and co-facilitator since early 2022.
Past and current organizational memberships and board obligations inspire and distract me. For the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, I have been regional representative for NYC, member of the Executive Committee, chair of the Advocacy Committee, and regional representative and steering committee member for the American Theatre Archive Project. I served on the leadership team for the LMDA project Dramaturging the Phoenix from 2021 through 2022, planning and executing regular seminars exploring the evolving professional lives of dramaturgs in the US. Canada, Mexico, and Britain. Recent roles with the American Theatre Critics Association include Executive Committee chair (2019-2022), vice chair (2017-2019), and founding co-chair of the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (now Belonging, Equity, Inclusion and Diversity) committee (2018-2019). Current ATCA roles include serving on the New Play committee that awards the Steinberg-ATCA and Osborn playwriting prizes, founding member of the new Helbing mentorship program committee project focused on mentoring college-aged LGBTQIA+ theater critics, and acting as the ATCA revised website webmaster while revising and implementing the new website and constantly crafting new content and coordinating access for member-only resources.
My journey to criticism is covered in this January 2022 conversation with a colleague from the American Theatre Critics Association.
I have written for HowlRound, Dramatics, TDF Stages (including my favorite interview with Albert Poland), and other places that will have me. I provide dramaturgical services to playwrights and authors, and have dipped a toe into the field of dramaturgy and research for film and television. It’s all about curiosity and tenacious research.
Email at msteketee [at] post [dot] harvard [dot] edu — no pronunciation required.
Click here for a current vita and here for articles, criticism, reports, and presentations. As of the first week of December 2022, I’ve been wading in the evolving world of post.news at @marthasteketee.