Something to write home about: Glenview native makes Steppenwolf debut

While a student at Glenbrook South High School, actress/writer Paloma Nozicka performed in the annual variety show’s comedy troupe.

“I always enjoyed doing comedy. I love making people laugh,” said Nozicka, who’s making her Steppenwolf Theatre debut in the company’s Chicago premiere of “The Thanksgiving Play,” Larissa FastHorse’s sendup of cisgender, heterosexual, Caucasian progressives and their unwavering wokeness.

But the Glenview native never considered making performing her career. Until she did.

Growing up, Nozicka wasn’t all that familiar with Steppenwolf Theatre. That changed when she was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Steppenwolf ensemble member Carrie Coon was studying for her masters of fine arts. Coon invited Nozicka to see her in Steppenwolf’s 2010 revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

“That’s when I realized this is the place you want to be if you’re working at the top of your game,” Nozicka said.

Graduating with degrees in journalism and theater, she says she found it easier to get a job acting than to get a job as a journalist. A member of Jackalope Theatre, she also performed with Goodman, Victory Gardens and Griffin theaters. Her play “Enough to Let the Light In,” which premiered at Teatro Vista, received a 2023 Joseph Jefferson Award nomination for best new work. While she maintains close ties to Chicago, she’s spent the last five years in Los Angeles writing, directing, acting and working in the education department of the Geffen Playhouse.

Glenview native Paloma Nozicka, center, makes her Steppenwolf Theatre debut in “The Thanksgiving Play,” which also features Tim Hopper, left, Nate Santana and Audrey Francis (not pictured). Courtesy of Michael Brosilow

“The Thanksgiving Play” marks Nozicka’s first play in five years and her Steppenwolf debut. Admittedly nervous at the first rehearsal, she said castmates and ensemble members Audrey Francis and Tim Hopper have welcomed her and Nate Santana.

“They made us feel so comfortable it was easy to feel we are equals,” she said, adding “the four of us have gotten on like a house on fire.”

Of her co-stars, Nozicka says, “it’s really hard not to break because they’re all funny.”

The cherry on the sundae is performing with Francis, Steppenwolf co-artistic director, and a mentor who Nozicka considers a friend.

“To be in a play with her now is an incredible experience,” she said.

A physically demanding show, working on “The Thanksgiving Play” has been exhausting.

“I’m so tired every night, full body tired,” she said, laughing. “I’ve never been so appreciative of sleep in my life.”

Asked whether she prefers writing, directing or acting, Nozicka says any way she can participate and share a story is fine with her.

“They all serve the same purpose, which is storytelling,” she said.

• • •

“The Thanksgiving Play”

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday through June 2. No performance May 28

Where: Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, (312) 335-1650,

Tickets: $20-$86

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