Steppenwolf Theatre’s night to party
BY ALISA M. ALEXANDER May 2, 2012 10:04PM
Frank Galati directed Steppenwolf’s current play, “The March,” and gala patrons will see a portion of it Saturday.
STEPPENWOLF’S 2012 GALA
◆ 6:30 p.m. Saturday
◆ Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted
◆ Tickets, $1,000
◆(312) 654-5632; special
Updated: June 4, 2012 11:47AM
On Saturday, lovers of the performing arts can mingle with the Steppenwolf Theatre’s colorful ensemble at the company’s annual fund-raising gala. The fashionable fete, with “urban chic” dress code, is worlds away from the typical black-tie event. The lines between performance and party, artist and guest, will be blurred throughout a night of surprises. Guests will arrive to a showcase of the current stage production of “The March,” directed by ensemble member Frank Galati, and will continue into the night with food, drinks and entertainment. This annual celebration is hosted by Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees and ensemble, and the event co-chairs are Rich and Margery Feitler, Scott P. and Rita George, and John R. and Carol A. Walter. Cause & Event connected with Galati to talk about this year’s gala.
Q. When did you get involved with Steppenwolf?
A. I’ve been a member of the Steppenwolf ensemble since 1986. The company was founded by Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney and Jeff Perry in Highland Park; they began doing performances in a church basement. I am currently a professor emeritus in the department of performance studies at Northwestern University and an ensemble member, but I’ve been very intimately involved with the company for quite a number of years. I first worked with John Malkovich in 1969 when he was a student at Illinois State University, if that gives you a sense of my history with the ensemble group.
Q. Tell me about the gala.
A. Oh, it’s always an exciting event. It will be beautifully staged and gorgeously appointed. The food is spectacular, the beverages are kinky and the space is always very cool. What we do is invite the audience of our supporters, those who are contributing to the theater, for the evening — they get all dressed up and fill our mainstage theater — and we do a performance of a portion of the show that is currently running on stage, so we’re going to be doing 30 minutes about “The March.”
Q. Then there’s a venue shift, I understand?
A. Yes, the whole audience is transported by trolley and buses to the location of the party. When they arrive, it’s all decorated with spectacular lighting and, in the case of this year, the visual decor is going to be made up of paragraphs and sentences from the text of the play. The play is deeply about language and the way language defines us as characters, as members of families, as members of communities, and as citizens.
Q. And what happens in the dinner venue?
A. There’s lots of cocktails and schmoozing and a crush of hundreds of people beautifully dressed. Speeches, a toast and the entire group sits down to a sumptuous feast and lots of wine and, near the conclusion of the dinner, there’s an auction. All of the proceeds of course go to support the theater. The whole event is an indispensible funder of our annual operation. We couldn’t function without this event. After the auction, Gary Sinise and his fellow musicians will play and there’s a lot of dancing that goes on to the wee hours, and it’s a rip-roller and a really great bash.
The Sun-Times is a media sponsor of the event.