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Edward Hall (photo by joe mazza - bravelux) and Kimberly Motes (photo by Dani Werner Photography)

Edward Hall, Kimberly Motes Named Leaders of Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Succeeding leadership that had steered the organization for over 3 decades, Hall and Motes will step into their new roles in October.

CHICAGO: Chicago Shakespeare Theater has announced director that Edward Hall will be the company’s new artistic director and Kimberly Motes its new executive director. Hall succeeds founding artistic director Barbara Gaines, who stepped down after 37 years leading the company, and Motes succeeds Criss Henderson, who departed the company at the end of 2022 after 33 years alongside Gaines. Both Hall and Motes will begin their new roles in mid-October.

“These ambitious, creative, and highly capable individuals will further raise Chicago Shakespeare’s profile with a bold, forward-thinking vision that encompasses the theatre’s multi-faceted programming and supports the creation of world-class work for our many audiences,” said board chair Paulita A. Pike in a statement. “Their passion for the art and spirit of collaboration make them well-suited to lead and support our incredible community of talented theatre professionals.”

Hall, the son of Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall, is no stranger to Chicago Shakespeare’s stage. Previously there, he directed the Rose Rage trilogy of Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3 in 2003, which went on to be the theatre’s Off-Broadway and New York City debut. Hall is also scheduled to direct Richard III during the upcoming 2023-24 season, a production set to star Tony nominee Katy Sullivan.

Shakespeare has been a central focus for Hall throughout his career, including the founding of the ensemble-based Propeller Theatre Company, which performed Shakespeare in London’s West End and toured around the world. Hall also served as artistic director and joint chief executive for London’s Hampstead Theatre for nearly a decade, where he helped the company produce over 100 world premieres. Hall also has numerous film and television credits, including directing 2019’s Blithe Spirit starring Dame Judi Dench, Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher, and Leslie Mann.

“Chicago Shakespeare Theater has always held a special place in my life, both as an inspiring theatre to work at and as an institution that delivers a brilliantly dynamic and broad range of work to a diverse audience in Chicago and beyond,” said Hall in a statement. “I look forward to partnering with Kimberly as we grow and develop this work across all three theatre spaces with fresh and invigorating Shakespeare, musicals, new work, and world theatre—and to nourishing the extraordinary education program that operates both on site and beyond delivering so much for this city. Becoming part of Chicago’s vibrant theatre community is a hugely exciting prospect.”

Kimberly Motes brings more than 25 years of leadership experience with her as she steps into Chicago Shakespeare’s executive director role. Motes has served as the managing director for Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, overseeing a budget of $13.1 million. During her tenure, she led strategic planning processes, increased the theatre’s equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice efforts, and spearheaded community partnerships. Additionally, Motes has served as managing director of Theater Latté Da and as the first executive director of the Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts. During her career, Motes has also spent time at the Washington Ballet, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Arena Stage, in addition to spending five years in higher education serving working in institutional advancement at the University of St. Thomas and the College of Saint Benedict.

Motes also serves on the board of directors of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable (where she chairs the membership committee) and Meet Minneapolis. She is a member of the Women Presidents Organization.

“I have admired Criss and Barbara’s ambition and entrepreneurial spirit over the past three decades,” said Motes in a statement. “Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s mission is compelling especially as it seeks to engage artists and audiences in dynamic, life-long relationships that bridge countries, cultures, and generations. I am excited to partner with Edward, the talented staff, board of directors, and, most importantly, the Chicago community to envision and realize a vibrant next stage for the theatre.”

The international search for leadership was conducted by search committees comprised of board members and theatre leadership and staff, under the guidance of search firm Spencer Stuart and with input stakeholders around the theatre.

“It is such an immense privilege to pass the torch to two such brilliant and insightful leaders as Edward and Kimberly,” said Gaines in a statement. “They already seem to intrinsically understand the soul of Chicago Shakespeare and I have no doubt that they’ll write an incredible next chapter for the organization. Edward has been such a dear friend over the last 20 years, and I couldn’t trust anyone more—he’s a true artist and leader. What a tremendous joy for the theatre and for our beloved city to have both Edward and Kimberly leading Chicago Shakespeare.”

Founded in 1986, Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents plays, musicals, world premieres, family productions, and presentations from around the world alongside educational programming as it strives to engage artists and audiences in conversations with the work of William Shakespeare. As of 2022, the theatre had a budget of over $12 million.

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