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Edgewater Theater Hero! Steep’s Peter Moore.


Steep Theatre’s Peter Moore

After New Jersey native Peter Moore graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine, he decided to move to Chicago to pursue his love of acting. What attracted him to our city was its substantial reputation for fearless, no-holds barred theater.  And maybe his love of The Blues Brothers and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 

What Moore ended up doing was help continue Chicago’s vibrant theatre scene. After studying at the School at Steppenwolf, he started Steep theatre with Alex Gillmor and Alex Gualino in 2000. They eventually opened up shop at 1115 W. Berwyn Ave. in Edgewater with a dedicated, close-knit group of actors, directors, designers and writers. Since, they have produced some ground-breaking plays and helped put our local theatre scene on the map.

Over the last 15 years, Moore has appeared as an actor in many shows at Steep including The Cheats, Brilliant Adventures, The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle, Motortown, A Brief History of Helen of Troy, and Harper Regan. He has also appeared in some commercial and film work, including Chicago Fire and the Bollywood blockbuster Dhoom 3. He is currently artistic directer at Steep Theatre.

We asked Edgewater/Andersonville resident Peter Moore the following questions:

1. Steep has received so much praise with both critics and theatre goers alike. What has surprised you most about your success?

PM: I suppose I’m surprised that there’s been any success at all. There wasn’t much of a plan to this whole thing at the very beginning. In fact, there are probably a few people out there who might say that there was no plan at all. There were only 3 of us at the beginning and our idea was simply to surround ourselves with good people and have fun producing work that we could be proud of. It’s become a little more sophisticated than that over the last 15 years, but that’s still at the heart of what we do. And somehow we’ve become this company of 34 enormously talented artists, with a significant audience base, and a fairly admirable track record of commercial and critical success. And I guess what’s really surprising is that our work has covered some pretty uncomfortable terrain over the years; we’ve tackled some difficult topics and ignited some challenging conversations, yet our audience has been along for the ride, come what may. I like to think it’s still that spirit of “let’s have some fun doing this” that has created the sort of warm, welcoming environment that makes our audiences and artists eager to come back to Steep and engage in these tricky – and I should say entertaining – conversations. I’m proud that we’ve managed this longevity without compromising in the slightest.

2. Artistically, what inspires and motivates you the most?

PM: Boy, I had to do some soul searching on this one. I think for me it’s about the moments you share with your fellow artists and your audience – moments on stage, in the theater, and even in the lobby after the show. It’s wonderful to connect with an actor on stage and to work through something together, but when that moment and those emotions consume an entire room of actors and the audience, that’s an incredibly thrilling feeling. And maybe one that’s unique to theater – to have an entire room dialed into one moment, one conversation, one emotion – there’s no beating that. It’s all the more powerful in a space as intimate as ours. And then sometimes you’re lucky enough, especially at Steep, to have the opportunity to talk to audience members in the lobby after the show or even bump into them on the street long after the performance. You can continue the conversation and sometimes you hear how our work touched them or sparked a debate or perhaps inspired them to consider another perspective. That’s incredibly rewarding.

3. What play(s) has moved you the most in 2015?

PM: Well, the other night I caught Pilgrim’s Progress at A Red Orchid Theatre, and it’s just as wild and wonderful as I’d hope. That company’s ensemble is incredibly talented and I love their programming. I also just recently saw a really lovely production of Samuel Hunter’s Pocatello, directed by Jonathan Berry with Griffin Theatre. (I think it runs a couple of more weeks, if you want to hurry and grab tickets.) It’s a beautiful story with an exceptional cast and just a great pairing of writer and director. Samuel writes these really moving stories about small town America that perfectly capture the universal struggles of modern life, and Jonathan Berry is just a brilliant director, especially with larger ensemble pieces such as this. Full disclosure – Jonathan is a Steep company member and is directing our next show Posh. And later this season, we’re producing a Samuel Hunter play The Few. So take that recommendation with a grain of salt if you like, but I’ve heard I have an impeccable reputation for recommending shows – at least ones I have nothing to do with.

4. The theatre scene in Edgewater has become very popular. Where do you see it going over the next decade?

PM: This neighborhood is incredibly well suited to host a vibrant theater scene and it’s grown a lot in the last few years. It’s been exciting to be a part of the growth, but what’s really exciting is that we’re just scratching the surface of what this scene can be. There’s a huge pool of potential theater-goers living here and there’s a ton of terrific work being done throughout Edgewater that has gotten some significant attention from the press. Yet I’m continually meeting people who are unaware of what’s going on here.   We have to continue to get the word out there and continue to engage the community in interesting ways. If we can do that, I think there’s the potential for a significant growth for the companies already here and I think the community can support a lot more theater companies.   Edgewater is such a perfect snapshot of this city and it offers theaters the opportunity to engage so many people from such varied walks of life. And as a theater company, that’s what it’s all about.

5. Are there any big plans for Steep in the near future?

PM: Well, we’ve got our U.S. premiere of Posh directed by Jonathan Berry coming up in January, which I’m telling you now is going to be a must-see. It’s hysterical, it’s timely, and it’ll make you squirm in just the right way. And then, we’ve got some special plans in the works to celebrate our 15th birthday this March, which I hope we can reveal soon. Beyond that, we’re got a few other irons in the fire organizationally. Nothing we’re set to announce imminently, but I’d say keep your eyes out for some big announcements in the not so distant future.

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