Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Frank Galati
In 1974, three young theatre students from Illinois State University, Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry and Gary Sinise founded a small theatre company in a church basement in Chicago. Over the following eight months, the group produced four shows, And Miss Reardon Drinks A Little, Grease, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and The Glass Menagerie.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company had begun to explore the principle of ensemble performance through the collaboration of a company of actors, directors and designers. The company's mission is to advance the vitality and diversity of American theatre by nurturing artists, encouraging repeatable creative relationships, and contributing new works to the national canon. By 1975, Steppenwolf Theatre Company became incorporated and in 1976 the founding members restructured the company dedicating themselves to the idea of ensemble and recruiting other friends and actors, HE Baccus, Nancy Evans, Moira Harris, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf and Alan Wilder, and was the year of the company's first full season.
The company's history of three decades, has been a flourishing and successful one. They produced plays such as True West (1982) featuring John Malkovich and Gary Sinise; The Caretaker (1986) directed by John Malkovich and featuring Jeff Perry, Gary Sinise and Alan Wilder; Slip of the Tongue (1992) directed by Simon Stokes and featuring John Malkovich and Side Man (2002) directed by Anna D Shapiro. In 1998, President Clinton awarded the company the National Medal of Arts, which honoured their 'outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and
availability of the arts in the United States'. Steppenwolf is one of America's most respected theatre companies. It has thirty-three ensemble members, three performance spaces and a subscription base of over 25 000.
In 1988, the Company performed The Grapes of Wrath in their Chicago performance space, and then toured to the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, The National Theatre in London and the onto Broadway. The script was adapted from John Steinbeck's classic novel; by one of the company's own ensemble members, Frank Galati. It went on to win the Outer Critics Award for Best Play, the Drama Desk Award for Best Direction, and landing a presentation on the Public Broadcasting channel's (PBS) American Playhouse Theatre in 1991.
Galati has been a member of the Steppenwolf ensemble since 1986, during which time he has directed several Broadway plays including The Glass Menagerie (1995), Ragtime (2000) and Seussical (2001). Galati also won two Tony awards and was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay The Accidental Tourist. He continues to produce prominent work within the industry.