Black Box Acting Announces New Ownership

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Black Box Acting Announces New Ownership

Black Box Acting, Chicago's premier actor training program, today announced a change in ownership. Andrew Cutler, Amanda Fink and Eric Gerard will succeed co-founders and longtime co-owners Audrey Francis and Laura Hooper. Black Box will remain at its current headquarters at 2625 W. North Ave. near Chicago's Logan Square, Wicker Park and West Town neighborhoods. Francis and Hooper will remain active in the organization.

Founded in 2009, Audrey Francis and Laura Hooper built Black Box Acting from the ground up, with zero funding, into a thriving, profitable arts organization reaching more than 2500 students over the last decade. Black Box's student base tripled in size within the first three months of opening; the following year, Francis and Hooper hired and trained 10+ staff members to support growing class sizes. In 2013, they purchased and built out Black Box's current space at 2625 W. North Ave., fulfilling their goal to create a home for artists to practice working hard and being fearless.

Comment Audrey Francis and Laura Hooper, "The ethos of Black Box is that it is by and for the next generation of artistic revolutionaries. To truly commit to our mission, we must recognize when our students have become our leaders. We dreamed for Black Box to be bigger than us as individuals. Today, we see that dream realized. We are thrilled to introduce Eric Gerard, Amanda Fink, and Andrew Cutler as Black Box's new leadership team. We cannot wait to cheer them on as they lead Black Box into its next decade."

Black Box's new leadership Andrew Cutler, Amanda Fink and Eric Gerard add, "We are excited to expand upon the remarkable foundation Audrey and Laura have built as we take on leadership roles at Black Box. Our core values and programming will remain as strong as ever, and we're committed to increasing accessibility to our classes and bringing new voices into our classrooms. We will continue to offer our core STUDIO curriculum throughout the year, training actors in The Black Box Method. We are already accepting applications for the next ACADEMY, our five-month conservatory program, set to begin in June 2019. In addition to these staples of our training, we will be increasing our Professional Series offerings, adding more professional development and hands-on application classes to our curriculum."

Andrew Cutler is the new Executive Director of Black Box Acting. He is also an actor and educator living and working in Chicago. He is an alumnus of the University of Chicago, the ACADEMY at Black Box Acting, and the apprenticeship program at The Actors Theatre of Louisville. He has taught acting at Black Box since 2013, and also taught this fall at the University of Chicago. As an actor, Andrew has appeared in more than twenty productions, including shows at First Floor Theater, the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, A Red Orchid Theatre, The Artistic Home, Broken Nose Theatre and The Sound. He was a founding member of First Floor Theater, where he also serves as the Associate Artistic Director.

Amanda Fink is the incoming Creative Director of Black Box Acting. She has been working as an actor and educator in Chicago for the better part of the last decade, and Black Box has been her artistic home in the city from the very beginning. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago and The ACADEMY at Black Box Acting and she worked at Black Box administratively in the roles of Student Affairs Coordinator and Marketing Director before joining the teaching team in 2017. As an actor, she has worked most recently with Court Theatre, Sideshow Theatre Company and First Floor Theater, where she is a proud co-founder.

Eric Gerard is the new Artistic Director at Black Box Acting. He is an alumnus of The ACADEMY at Black Box and has been teaching acting there for three years. Black Box has been his artistic training ground since 2012. He is also an actor in the city. He has done over fifteen shows in the city including productions with Steppenwolf, Timeline, Redtape, Jackalope, First Floor, Teatro Vista and Windy City Playhouse.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Black Box Acting's new co-owners (left to right) Amanda Fink, Andrew Cutler and Eric Gerard. Photo by Ian McLaren.

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