Monday, January 29, 2007

33 Years, 31 Seasons, 41 Members

posted by brad at 10:10 PM
32 of the 33 Steppenwolf members gathered on the White House lawn in 1991. Missing is John Mahoney.

"The longest-existing theater ensemble in the United States" announced on their blog today the addition of 6 new ensemble members. This is by far the largest group addition the Steppenwolf company has made in a while and seems quite deliberate in terms of helping to bring more diversity to the ensemble.

We get a lot (I can only imagine how many Steppenwolf must get) of emails and phone calls from people who "want to get involved" with our company. Most of whom, haven't even been to see a show at our place, much less have a sense of what it means to be a member of the company. We also have people who ask the question directly - how can I join the ensemble? How can I become a member?

Unfortunately "membership" and "ensemble" have become interchangeable in many theatre companies and models around the country. Our view has always been that ensemble was much closer to a group of artistic soul mates than a general membership indicates. People you respect and admire so much that you want to help create and find opportunity for all of them as much as for yourself, for the next 20 or 30 years. And because of that, there is something inherently great about the work.

Our ensemble is currently at 12. We're building it slowly. Intentionally so. Being an ensemble member at Furious means that you have artistic directors looking specifically for opportunities that fulfill your artistic aspirations and help build a career path for you. In exchange for your commitment to the group. No trash duty, no dues. This philosophy is what drives our script selection, our casting and our aesthetic. Right now, 12 is the right number and it is the right group of people. Certainly, we have also been blessed with the talents and contributions of phenomenal guest artists and Furious favorites, those who've worked with us multiple times.

So, when will our ensemble grow again? We'll know when we know. Steppenwolf has always been a big inspiration to Furious. Their example of how to build, sustain and satisfy a true ensemble while producing some of the country's best theatre merits respect and admiration.

See the announcement of the new Steppenwolf members here. The entire ensemble here.
Be Furious.


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