Feature Story

Get To Know: Steven Woolf of The Rep

What I am: The Rep’s artistic director, celebrating 30 years this year

What I do: I don’t direct every play, but I do produce every play. This means I choose the season, the play, the directors, and I work with them to achieve their vision.

What I’m not: An actor

How I started: My love of theater began when I was very young. My family appreciated the arts and took me to plays regularly. The first Broadway show I ever saw was Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand.

My first job: Production stage manager for the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, Connecticut.

Early days: I’m from Milwaukee. I studied theater (BA) and directing (MFA) at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and then moved to New York City, where I worked off- and off-off Broadway. I served on the faculty for the Drama Division at Julliard, and held long-term residencies at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, and at Stage West in Springfield, Massachusetts.

My favorite play of all time: Follies—it’s one of the most amazing plays ever written. We kick off the 2016-2017 season (our 50th!) with it in September.

Favorite Rep play that I have produced: I can’t possibly answer that. There are too many—almost 300—and they are all my children.

Acting hero: Maggie Smith, for right now.

The St. Louis theater scene: There’s a lot of action in town. There was a point over the last decade when it all exploded. Big and small theaters alike are getting good audiences and doing entertaining and challenging things. It’s impressive and speaks to St. Louis’ strong desire to support the arts.

Why I love St. Louis: It’s a big city with lots of excitement to its urban landscape—art museums and parks, the Shakespeare Festival, The Muny, concerts in the Botanical Garden, all of which make it wonderful and very special.

Why I don’t: The weather

Favorite spot in the city: Forest Park/Saint Louis Art Museum

Favorite place to unwind: The Art Museum or any movie theater that’s showing something decent

Biggest accomplishment in 30 years: That the Rep is here and prospering. Many companies around the country have found themselves in financial trouble, but we are here and on solid financial and artistic ground.

Greatest challenge: Running this theater. There’s a lot to do, a lot to consider, a lot of things to say. It’s new every day, every night and at every performance.

Biggest honor: This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis. I am humbled to be among the other fine honorees.

Photo: Bill Barrett

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