Weather Updates

Bruce Norris apologizes to Steppenwolf for Tony ‘Clybourne’ slight

Bruce Norris poses with his Best Play award for 'Clybourne Park' press room 66th annual Tony Awards Sunday June 10

Bruce Norris poses with his Best Play award for "Clybourne Park" in the press room at the 66th annual Tony Awards on Sunday June 10, 2012, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini /Invision/AP)

storyidforme: 32350040
tmspicid: 11799533
fileheaderid: 5392781

Updated: June 21, 2012 11:08AM

When Chicago-fostered playwright Bruce Norris, whose “Clybourne Park” won this year’s Tony Award for best play, got up to the microphone to accept his award and thank everyone in his professional orbit, he left out perhaps the most important thank you of all. It was the one to Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, which has nurtured his work from the start and presented many productions of his plays over the years, including “Clybourne Park,” a dual tale of race and real estate in Chicago that riffs on Lorraine Hansberry’s classic, “A Raisin inthe Sun.”

But Norris is a mensch. And here is the note of apology he sent to Martha Lavey, artistic director of Steppenwolf. The playwright might not ever live down his gaffe, but “Sorry” goes a long way.

“Bruce Norris’ Public Disgrace 2011-2012, Volume 1,” by Bruce Norris

“To all my friends in Chicago:

“Okay — I never claimed to be a public speaker ­ in fact, I’ve been actively discouraged from ever speaking in public by those who¹ve ever had the

misfortune to witness me doing it. But, at the recent Tony Awards broadcast I found myself in the awkward position of having to do so on camera before a live national audience. And all I had to do was thank the people that have made it possible for me to make my living as a playwright. So, I made a

mental list for myself (since we were sternly warned beforehand: do NOT pull a list out of your pocket), I even made up a little mnemonic device so that

I wouldn¹t forget anyone - although, tellingly, I can¹t now remember what it was — and when I made that list, the penultimate thankee (just before my

girlfriend and Lorraine Hansberry) was supposed to be those who’ve been wholly responsible for (or guilty of) my so-called career as a playwright:

“Steppenwolf Theatre.

“And by extension, the entire city of Chicago.

“And for whatever combination of stupidity, early-onset Alzheimer’s or simply naked, quivering panic, I ­ inadvertently, I swear on my mother’s grave ­

left Steppenwolf off of that list, compounding the error by naming a lot of other theaters I¹ve recently worked with.

“I offer no excuse ­ I am an utter nincompoop, and will make myself available at dunk tanks throughout the greater Chicago area this summer, where all of

you who deserved proper thanks in a national forum can take your best shot at me.

“Sincerest apologies to all of my pals from Steppenwolf and Chicago. — BN”

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.