“I’ve had the greatest job... and I feel like the luckiest person"
September 18, 2021 3:33 AM   Subscribe

After a 35-year run leading Chicago’s most prestigious theater company, Goodman Theatre artistic director Robert Falls is to resign, effective at the end of the current season in August 2022.

Falls’ decision, which he said was not made under any kind of internal or outside pressure, brings the exit of Chicago theater’s premier auteurist director, an unusually eclectic artist known throughout the world of theater for the expansiveness of his ambition, the boldness of his risk-taking and the richness of his conceptual productions.

It also is part of an extraordinary, pandemic-era exodus of artistic leaders in the city, including the recent departure of Anna D. Shapiro at Steppenwolf Theatre. Both major Chicago theaters, along with several others, now will have to find their way under new leadership.

“Bob is on the forefront of the Chicago theater revolution,” said longtime actor and Northlight Theatre artistic director B.J. Jones. “His resignation is a transformational moment.”

Famously memorable Falls-directed productions, a number of which moved to Broadway and elsewhere, include Bertolt Brecht’s “Galileo” starring Dennehy and Galati (1987); Tennessee Williams’ ”The Night of the Iguana” starring William Petersen (1994); Anton Chekhov’s ”Three Sisters” starring Calista Flockhart (1995); Arthur Miller’s ”Death of a Salesman” starring Dennehy and Elizabeth Franz (1998); the world premiere of Miller’s last play, “Finishing the Picture” (2004); Shakespeare’s ”King Lear” starring Stacy Keach (2006); Eugene O’Neill’s ”Desire Under the Elms” starring Carla Gugino and Dennehy (2009); and O’Neill’s epic ”The Iceman Cometh” (2012) starring Dennehy, Nathan Lane and a singular raft of Chicago acting talent, the likes of which had never been assembled before. But that merely is a sampling of some 50 Goodman shows, including a resonant 2019 production of ”The Winter’s Tale” that seemed to tacitly explore some of the issues faced by established artists later in their careers.

Falls said he does not plan to be involved in the search for his replacement. “I hope they will bring the passion and the vision that fits the moment,” he said, “and a full-out commitment.” The position, among the most prestigious, influential and lucrative in nonprofit American theater, is likely to attract many enthusiastic candidates.
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