Steppenwolf Theatre Company Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro will step down from her position at the famed Chicago institution this August, just before it reopens in November for in-person performances. The leader will remain in the Windy City as an ensemble member at the company in addition to other projects, like directing the upcoming The Devil Wears Prada musical and the Broadway re-opening of The Minutes.
The Chicago Tribune reports Shapiro made the decision after she saw ticket sales spike in the wake of Steppenwolf's 2021–2022 season announcement., which includes the opening of a new theatre complex featuring an in-the-round stage. In addition, the artistic director felt that she was leaving the company a more diverse place than when she took on the mantle.
The artistic director championed bringing more performers of color to the ensemble—and opening the troupe to more writers and directors—during her tenure. “I am a new-play director,” she said. “I am most proud of how we have been able to champion these younger voices, to give them the platform that Steppenwolf has, and then watch them fly. That is what I will miss the most.”
Recently, Steppenwolf has faced accusations of workplace harassment and a lack of equity as the industry continues to be held accountable for its racist tendencies and gatekeeping. Shapiro says that’s not why she's stepping down, though.
“There’s not a theatre in this country worth its salt that is not dealing with these questions of systemic racism and trying to look at its culture and Steppenwolf is no different,” the director said.“I am not stepping down from this work that needs to be done just because I am leaving as artistic director,” she said.
A search for Shapiro’s replacement, led by the company’s ensemble, is underway.