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 those continually asked to spell and to pronounce their names. 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, studied 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, purveyor of the Drama Desk Awards. 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 worked on the Women Count project since 2012, and on the Counting Together collaborative as member since 2019 and co-facilitator since 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 a 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 have been part of the leadership team for the LMDA project Dramaturging the Phoenix since summer 2021, 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 and vice chair and co-chair of the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion committee, and current roles include serving on the New Play committee that awards the Steinberg-ATCA and Osborn playwriting prizes and on the new Helbing mentorhip program committee project that is focused on mentoring college-aged LGBTQIA+ theater critics.
My journey to criticism is covered in this January 2022 conversation with a colleague from the American Theatre Critics Association.
I write for HowlRound, Dramatics, and other places that will have me. I provide dramaturgical services to playwrights and authors, and have newly entered 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.