"It" is the naming of the new ensemble member at Chicago's storied nonprofit Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the troupe whose ranks include John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Joan Allen, John Mahoney, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lois Smith, Austin Pendleton and Terry Kinney. Anna D. Shapiro is the latest artist to join the august group. She is the company's 36th ensemble member and the first named since 2002. Shapiro is a director who has worked at Steppenwolf since 1995. Her credits there include Tracy Letts' Man from Nebraska, Brooke Berman's Until We Find Each Other and Bruce Norris' Purple Heart—all premieres. Her production of The Drawer Boy recently opened at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse.
Steppenwolf has always been known as an actors' theatre, and its ensemble base is largely made up of performers. Thus, Shapiro's inclusion is unusual. The only precedents are Frank Galati, Eric Simonson and Tina Landau who had made their reputations as directors when they were drafted into Steppenwolf's ranks. Also, Letts was arguably better known as a playwright than an actor when he was elevated to ensemble member in 2002.