Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

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

Over the coming months, the Goodman will conduct a wide-ranging search for its next Artistic Director. 

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

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."

-Robert Falls


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.


Under Falls' leadership, the Goodman has become a world-class theater distinguished by the quality and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Stand-out achievements over 35 years include:

The Artistic Collective. Early in his tenure at the Goodman, Falls tapped a handful of outstanding American theater artists with whom he would share the responsibility of season selection. The work of these artists-award-winning playwrights, directors and actors-has cemented the theater's international reputation for excellence over three decades.

Artists and productions have earned a Pulitzer Prize, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades.

More than 150 world or American premieres. Under Falls' leadership, the Goodman implemented a vigorous new play development program-including more than two dozen individual artist commissions; the annual New Stages Festival, now in its 17th year; the Playwrights Unit; and Future Labs, dedicated to works authored and directed by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI and other artists of color.

Falls' innovative investigations of American classics-especially the works of Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller, in partnership with the late Brian Dennehy, his longtime collaborator-earned international acclaim for the Goodman. Productions include The Iceman Cometh (1990 and 2012, with Nathan Lane); A Touch of the Poet (1996); Death of A Salesman (1999); Long Day's Journey into Night (2001); Hughie (2004); and Desire Under the Elms (2009).

A $46 million state-of-the-art theater complex. Founded in 1925, Goodman Theatre is the oldest and largest not-for-profit theater in Chicago. In 2000, the Goodman became the catalyst for the major revitalization of Chicago's downtown theater district when it relocated to the heart of the Loop. The 856-seat Albert Theatre and the 400-seat flexible Owen Theatre have hosted original work, the "downtown debut" of productions from off-Loop Chicago companies and productions that transferred to New York and/or theaters across the country. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago's Off-Loop theaters.

A $15 million expansion that established the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement. In 2016, the Goodman became the first Chicago theater to build a facility dedicated to education and engagement programs with the opening of "The Alice Center"-a manifestation of the Goodman's longtime commitment to youth and life-long learners, including classrooms, a hands-on STEM learning lab, rehearsal spaces and more. The expanded footprint enables the Goodman to impact hundreds more Chicagoans through its myriad education and engagement programs. Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Alice Center is the home of these programs, which are offered free of charge for Chicago youth-85% of whom come from underserved communities-schools and life-long learners.

The Goodman became the first theater in the country to produce all 10 plays of August Wilson's cycle of works chronicling the African American experience in each decade of the 20th century. The Goodman's relationship with the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright began with Fences (1986) and, under Falls' leadership, included two world-premiere productions: Seven Guitars (1995) and Gem of the Ocean (2003).

Goodman productions that transferred to Broadway and off-Broadway under Falls include:

1986 Fences by August Wilson, dir. Lloyd Richards
1989 The Speed of Darkness by Steve Tesich, dir. Robert Falls
1989 Mill Fire by Sally Nemeth, dir. David Petrarca
1990 Eliot Loves by Jules Feiffer, dir. Mike Nichols
1992 On the Open Road by Steve Tesich, dir. Robert Falls
1992 Wings by Jeffrey Lunden and Arthur Perlman, dir. Michael Maggio
1993 Marvin's Room by Scott McPherson, dir. David Petrarca
1994 The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams, dir. Robert Falls
1995 Seven Guitars by August Wilson, dir. Lloyd Richards
1997 The Young Man from Atlanta by Horton Foote, dir. Robert Falls
1998 Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, dir. Robert Falls
2000 Boy Gets Girl by Rebecca Gilman, dir. Michael Maggio
2000 Millennium Mambo by Kia Corthron, Adrienne Kennedy, Suzan-Lori Parks, Ntozake Shange and Regina Taylor, dir. Henry Godinez
2001 Blue Surge by Rebecca Gilman, dir. Robert Falls
2001 Big Love by Charles L. Mee, dir. Les Waters
2002 Galileo Galilei an opera by Philip Glass, libretto by Mary Zimmerman with Philip Glass and Arnold Weinstein, dir. Mary Zimmerman
2002 Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill, dir. Robert Falls
2002 Hollywood Arms by Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett, dir. Harold Prince
2003 Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson, dir. Marion McClinton
2004 The Light in the Piazza by Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas, dir. Bartlett Sher
2007 Frank's Home by Richard Nelson, dir. Robert Falls
2009 Desire Under the Elms by Eugene O'Neill, dir. Robert Falls
2009 Ruined by Lynn Nottage, dir. Kate Whoriskey
2015 The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill, dir. Robert Falls
2017 War Paint by Doug Wright, Music by Scott Frankel, Lyrics by Michael Korie, dir. Michael Greif

More Hot Stories For You