eet Chicago actress Stephanie Shum, who plays Ann Putnam, Susanna Walcott and Martha Corey in the Steppenwolf for Young Adults production of The Crucible, which has public performances Friday – Sunday through October 21, 2017. Full price tickets are $20/$15 with a student ID, and there's a ticket deal on Goldstar for $10.
Stephanie is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf, an ensemble member of both Red Tape Theatre and The New Colony and is making her Steppenwolf debut. Learn more about this Chinese-American emerging actress whose an active participant in the Chicago Theatre scene.
What's your personal story?
I'm originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada and moved to the north suburbs of Chicago when I was nine. I got hooked on the drama shortly after when I followed a friend to a summer theatre camp and got to play my first role, The Little Bad Wolf, complete with a dance solo. From there, I did shows through high school and college and later trained at the School at Steppenwolf.
What's your character's story in "The Crucible”?
I get to play a few characters which is really fun! First, I play Susanna Walcott, one of the young girls in Abigail's group that call out witches. Next, I play Ann Putnam, an older, higher-status woman in Salem who has lost seven of eight children and looks to witchcraft as the cause. Finally, I play Martha Corey, a woman accused of being a witch for her love of books.
What challenges does your character face telling this story?
I'm really drawn to how these three very different characters fight against the role of women in this world. While they vary in age and status, ultimately, the gendered power dynamics push them to extremes for survival.
How does the character overcome those challenges?
In Susanna's case, she and the rest of the afflicted girls double down on the lie of witchcraft to protect themselves and, in so doing, flip the system and discover newfound freedom and power. But at what cost? (Dramatic music!)
Any other comments?
I'm really thrilled to be doing this classic, timely piece for so many students. We've only had a few performances so far but I'm excited to welcome more students and continue the dialogue. I'm also so in love with this talented and diverse cast. I remember reading "The Crucible" as a teenager and, to be honest, I never thought I'd have the opportunity to tell this story and I'm so incredibly thankful to be a part of it.