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University professors book on Chicago theatre gaining attention
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Stanislaus State Theatre Professor John Mayer has written Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago: In Their Own Words.

Stanislaus State Theatre professor John Mayer has accumulated acclaim on the stage and is now finding success in the written word form.

John Mayer’s new book, “Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago: In Their Own Words,” which came out Aug. 11, was recently featured in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mayer was part of the Highland Park, Ill., high school group in the 1970s that cultivated the idea of starting Steppenwolf, and appeared in several of the group’s earliest productions. Since then, Steppenwolf has moved from the high school to an 88-seat church basement to its present home – a state-of-the-art facility in Chicago’s Old Town district.

“The analogy I like to make about Steppenwolf is that it’s what Apple is to computers,” Mayer said. “Apple started in a garage and look where they are. Steppenwolf started in a basement, and look where they are.”

The book reads as an oral history of the theater, using the words of many performers who have moved through Steppenwolf, including Gary Sinise, Tom Irwin, Jeff Perry, Terry Kinney, John Malkovich, Laurie Metcalf, Joan Allen, Francis Guinan, Martha Lavey, Tracy Letts and Rondi Reed.

The book and its subject matter also has caught the attention of the famed Drama Book Shop in New York City, which is hosting Mayer for a discussion and book signing on Aug. 30. A similar event will be hosted by the Stan State University library in September.