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Robert Falls and Seth Bockley in rehearsal for "2666." (Photo by Liz Lauren)

Robert Falls to Depart Goodman Theatre in 2022

Falls, who has led the company for 35 years, will plan the 2022-23 season before departing Chicago’s oldest nonprofit theatre.

CHICAGO: Goodman Theatre has announced that longtime artistic director Robert Falls will step down in Summer 2022 after leading the theatre for over three decades. Falls will continue through the end of the 2021-22 season and program the 2022-23 season, which will be announced in early 2022 and will include two productions directed by Falls. The Goodman will conduct a wide-ranging search for its next artistic director as it nears its centennial anniversary in 2025.

Robert Falls

“Robert Falls is a true visionary as a theatre director and as the artistic director of Goodman Theatre,” said board of trustees chairman Jeff W. Hesse in a statement. “He has assembled a brilliant community of artists, provided them with space and resources to create transformative theatre experiences, connected them with diverse and multi-generational audiences, and built community through the illumination—onstage and off-—of our shared humanity. 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.”

Falls’s 35-year tenure at the company includes leading the company to a regional theatre Tony Award in 1992 and then receiving a Tony himself for direction of the Brian Dennehy-starring Death of a Salesman, which was first staged at the Goodman. Falls was also nominated for best direction for Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Those two productions garnered a total of seven Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards. Other Broadway credits include Desire under the Elms, The Night of the Iguana, Conor McPherson’s Shining City (Tony nomination), Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio (Tony nomination), The Rose Tattoo at Circle in the Square (Tony nomination), Horton Foote’s Pulitzer-winning The Young Man from Atlanta, and Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida.

In Chicago, Falls’s Goodman credits include Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale and DollhouseKing 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. More than two dozen of the theatre’s productions transferred from Chicago to either Broadway or Off-Broadway during Falls’s tenure. Falls received multiple Joseph Jefferson Awards, as well as the O’Neill Medallion from the Eugene O’Neill Society and the Savva Morozov Diamond Award from the Moscow Art Theatre. He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2015.

“For more than three decades, I’ve had the honor, privilege, and pleasure of service as artistic director of Goodman Theatre,” said Falls in a statement, in which he also thanked members of the Goodman’s artistic collective and his producing partner, executive director Roche Schulfer, who will stay on with the company. “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 theatre with all my heart; it’s been an artistic home, and it will be a bittersweet departure.”

Falls’s tenure also included a $15 million expansion that established the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement and the Goodman becoming the first theatre in the country to produce the entirety of August Wilson’s century cycle, including the world premieres of Seven Guitars and Gem of the Ocean.

“When Robert Falls became artistic director in 1986, he brought a host of ideas that would transform our theater and our industry,” said Schulfer in a statement. “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—theatre 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 theatre 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.”

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