Ike Holter

Ike Holter writes explosive plays that are visceral, ambitious, and populated with diverse characters for whom the personal is inseparable from the political.

Born in 1985 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ike Holter has emerged from Chicago’s indie scene to become one of American theater’s most exciting young artists. His breakthrough play Hit the Wall, first presented at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Garage in 2012, established his reputation for exquisitely written dramas featuring multi-generational, multi-racial casts. Set in Greenwich Village in June 1969, Hit the Wall is both a loving character study and a propulsive historical thriller, detailing the lives of the Village’s motley inhabitants—drag queens and stoners, cops and freedom fighters—in the hours leading up to the bloody police raid at the Stonewall Inn. Holter’s 2014 play Exit Strategy brings his examination of resistance and violence to contemporary Chicago as, over the course of a failing public school’s final year, administrators, students, and teachers battle civic apathy, low test scores, funding cuts, a rodent infestation, and casual violence. His most recent work, Sender, premiered at A Red Orchid Theatre in April 2016. Combining what Charles Isherwood of the New York Times has called “sharp characterization and crisply funny dialogue,” Holter’s plays establish a new kind of political poetry: at once oracular and defiant, it bears witness to invisibility and injustice, echoing Hit the Wall’s choral incantation: I was there.

I work constantly and it's exhausting; the idea that I've been given this gift to help me financially—and allow me to focus more artistically—is incredible and humbling and even though I work with words I don't know how to use them right now. I'm incredibly grateful. IKE HOLTER