Today the Neo-Futurist Theater announced that Artistic Director Kurt Chiang will step down from his role as the leader of Chicago’s premiere experimental theater company to make way for new leadership in early 2020. Neo-Futurist Ensemble Member Kirsten Riiber will succeed Chiang as Artistic Director. Chiang will continue his role as a Neo-Futurist Ensemble Member.
"It's been fun, fulfilling, and never-ordinary to serve as Artistic Director of The Neo-Futurists,” said Kurt Chiang. “I'm proud of the staff and ensemble for weathering some pretty substantial storms over the last 3-5 years, including branding and naming changes, and the ever-present cloud this presidency has cast over our cultural landscape. My first experience of Neo-Futurism in 2005 was that of a fan, and I've tried to deliver that particular feeling here to our dedicated and growing audiences in my work as an artist and leader. I know Kirsten shares that mentality, and I look forward to how she leads the ensemble and takes the work to a new and exciting future."
Chiang originally joined the company in 2008 as an ensemble member. In 2014, he joined Bilal Dardai as Co-Artistic Director before being appointed as the company’s first full-time Artistic Director in 2015. A year later in 2016, Chiang saw the organization through an unprecedented period towards stabilization, as the company unexpectedly lost the license to their weekly flagship show, pressing forward to create their new signature show, The Infinite Wrench.
“Kurt is an incredible artist and friend and to be called his counterpart at the company has completely shifted my perspective as he is an exemplary leader and his effect is truly lasting,” said Jorge Silva, Neo-Futurist Managing Director . “As The Infinite Wrench continues to mature and our identity as an organization evolve, new leadership is only natural, if not healthy. I am inspired by Kirsten's vision and am ecstatic to create the next chapter of Chicago’s home for radical, experimental theater alongside them.”
Riiber has been an ensemble member since 2012 and is the creator behind the critically acclaimed Tangles & Plaques, a show centered on the nature of memory loss.
“Kurt carries the Neo-Futurist aesthetic everywhere he goes. It is undeniable that he lives and breathes this work, and his dedication to the company has and continues to inspire me as a fan, student and collaborator,” said Kirsten Riiber, Neo-Futurist Ensemble Member and Incoming Artistic Director. “The Neo-Futurists has always been a space for outliers; folks who want more from conventional theater, who crave immediacy and honest connection, and who might not feel seen or represented elsewhere.”
Riiber takes over a dynamic 2019/2020 season that includes The Neo-Futurists’ flagship show, The Infinite Wrench, which since its 2016 inception has added to the company’s 10,900 world premieres. “2020 is going to be an excellent year with fresh faces in the ensemble, new class offerings, exciting improvements to the space, and increasingly vulnerable, challenging, visceral, hilarious and unforgettable performance art coming at you every single weekend, all year long.”
ABOUT THE NEO-FUTURIST THEATER
Since 1988, The Neo-Futurist Theater is a collective of writer-director-performers who create theater that is a fusion of sport, poetry and living newspaper. The company has created more than 10,900 plays to date within its flagship late-night event called The Infinite Wrench, and more than 65 full-length mainstage productions incorporating its signature non-illusory, interactive style of performance. From humble beginnings launching the first late-night theater production in Chicago, The Neo-Futurist Theater created what became the city’s longest-running show and has grown to become one of the most highly regarded experimental theater companies in the United States, with sister companies in San Francisco and New York. For more information, visit www.neofuturists.org.
The Neo-Futurist Theater is partially supported by grants from Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Paul M. Angell Foundation, Arts Work Fund, The Chicago Community Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council Agency, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts.
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