Robert Falls to Step Down as Artistic Director of Goodman Theatre in Summer 2022

Sep 15, 2021
Robert Falls at Goodman Theatre in Chicago

After more than three decades leading creative operations for one of America's largest theaters, Tony Award-winner Robert Falls is ending his tenure as Artistic Director of Goodman Theatre. Today, Falls announced his intention to step down next summer at the completion of the current 2021/2022 Season. He will program the following 2022/2023 Season, in which he will direct two productions, to be announced in early 2022. Over the coming months, the Goodman will conduct a wide-ranging search for its next Artistic Director.

"Robert Falls is a true visionary as a theater director and as the Artistic Director of Goodman Theatre. He has assembled a brilliant community of artists, provided them with space and resources to create transformative theater experiences, connected them with diverse and multi-generational audiences, and built community through the illumination-on stage and off-of our shared humanity," said Board of Trustees Chairman Jeff W. Hesse. "As we begin to salute his 35 years of remarkable stewardship, we will celebrate Bob's efforts to transform Goodman Theatre into a vibrant 'arts and community organization,' where a wide range of voices find a creative home and where all in our community feel welcome. We are deeply grateful to Bob for his decades of service and establishing the values that Goodman Theatre will continue to embody in the future as we begin our search for a new Artistic Director."

Added Board of Trustees President Maria Wynne, "Chicago is a better place thanks to Robert Falls, who has helped cement our international reputation for theatrical excellence in his outstanding Goodman Theatre leadership for more than one-third of its existence. In times of change and challenge, we need the arts to make sense of and navigate our increasingly complex world. Bob met this challenge brilliantly. The quality, range and diversity of the work he brought to our stages, along with his passionate commitment to making that work available to youth and the broader community, has been incredible. He has set a high standard, and all at the Goodman are grateful."

Goodman Theatre Executive Director Roche Schulfer said, "When Robert Falls became Artistic Director in 1986, he brought a host of ideas that would transform our theater and our industry. Bob believed that the Goodman should be a place where all members of our community could see themselves and their experiences reflected on stage. He created an 'Artistic Collective'- theater artists whose varied cultural and aesthetic identities ensured a variety of visions would be evident in every season. Bob's artistic sensibility and commitment to producing powerful, provocative work have earned the Goodman unparalleled artistic distinction-from a Special Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre to a Time magazine citation as 'outstanding professional resident theater' to, most recently, a ground-breaking LIVE theater series broadcast to audiences at home-and have made the Goodman one of the nation's most respected theaters. As an artist, colleague, friend and leader, his vision and generosity are unrivaled; working in partnership with him has been an experience for which I will be forever grateful."

"For more than three decades, I've had the honor, privilege and pleasure of service as Artistic Director of Goodman Theatre. After what has been a thrilling and rewarding journey, I feel it's time for us both to move on to new adventures. For me, a new chapter of professional opportunities awaits-including creative projects I've previously been unable to accept. I love this theater with all my heart; it's been an artistic home, and it will be a bittersweet departure.

I am deeply grateful to all those who have supported and believed in my work at the Goodman: the trustees, the artists and artisans, the staff, and a hugely loyal audience--all of whom have made the theater one of the finest in the world. It's been a joyous experience to have been part of this wild and wonderful Chicago theater community that I have watched grow and flourish over these past decades, and I look forward to continuing to work and collaborate with my friends and colleagues here and throughout the country after stepping down as Artistic Director in the summer of 2022.

I'm especially thankful to the members of the Goodman Theatre Artistic Collective who, beginning in 1986 with the late Michael Maggio as well as Frank Galati, followed soon thereafter by Chuck Smith and Mary Zimmerman, expanded over the years to include a brilliant roster of nationally acclaimed artists: Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and, our newest member, Kimberly Senior. Past members include the late Brian Dennehy, as well as Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Harry Lennix and David Petrarca. This arrangement has enabled the Goodman and me to collaborate in creating uniquely wide-ranging, culturally and aesthetically diverse programming.

I am also indebted to my producing partner, Roche Schulfer, whose passionate belief in my vision, and that of all the artists who have worked at the theater has been both deeply appreciated and moving. His steady hand and professionalism, his sense of humor and enthusiasm have made for a profound collaboration.

In my last year as Artistic Director, as the Goodman welcomes audiences back into our theater, I will be overseeing an exciting line up of shows that exemplify the range and diversity of our programming. I will also put together the 2022/2023 Season, in which I will direct two new productions. This will provide the theater with ample time to prepare for a smooth transition and allow my successor the time to plan their own first season.

With the Goodman's Centennial Anniversary around the corner in 2025, I look forward to welcoming, and rooting for the next Artistic Director as they take this extraordinary institution into a bold new future."

Goodman Theatre has flourished under Falls' leadership and become one of the nation's premier arts organizations, known for producing exciting and innovative work in an inclusive environment, and cultivating the next generation of theater artists. Hailed as "Chicago's most essential director" (Chicago Tribune), Tony Award-winner Robert Falls' theater and opera work over four decades has included ground-breaking new plays, reimagined classics, large-scale musical works and more.

Falls most recently directed a new production of Don Giovanni (Lyric Opera of Chicago/Dallas Opera); David Cale's We're Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time (Goodman Theatre and the Public Theater NYC); The Winter's Tale; An Enemy of the People; a new adaptation for the stage of Roberto Bolaño's epic novel 2666; and The Iceman Cometh, starring Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy (Brooklyn Academy of Music).

Two of Falls' most highly acclaimed Broadway productions-Death of a Salesman and Long Day's Journey into Night-first staged at the Goodman, were honored with seven Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards. Other noteworthy Broadway productions include Desire under the Elms; The Night of the Iguana; Conor McPherson's Shining City (Tony Award nomination); Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio (Tony Award nomination); The Rose Tattoo at Circle in the Square (Tony Award nomination); Horton Foote's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Young Man from Atlanta; and Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida. Off-Broadway productions include Beth Henley's The Jacksonian; Rebecca Gilman's Blue Surge; Nicky Silver's The Food Chain; and Eric Bogosian's subUrbia at Lincoln Center Theater (Obie Award).

For the Goodman, Falls' extensive credits include Rebecca Gilman's Luna Gale, and Dollhouse; King Lear; Measure for Measure; Galileo; The Tempest; Hughie; A Touch of the Poet; The Misanthrope; Landscape of the Body; Three Sisters; Uncle Vanya; his own adaptation of The Seagull; and the Rodgers and Hart musical Pal Joey for which he wrote a new book. He also directed the American premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's House and Garden, and the world premiere of Arthur Miller's final play Finishing the Picture.

He is the recipient of multiple Joseph Jefferson Awards, as well as such prestigious honors as the O'Neill Medallion (Eugene O'Neill Society) and the Savva Morozov Diamond Award from the Moscow Art Theatre. In 2015, Falls was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.