Lookingglass Theatre Company announces that Rachel Kraft has decided to step down as Executive Director after 12 years with the company. She will remain at Lookingglass through the end of the calendar year as they search for a successor. Lookingglass is in the process of choosing a search firm and the search is anticipated to begin in July.
Rachel has been the Executive Director of Lookingglass Theatre since September 2005. During her tenure, the company and its ensemble were honored as the Recipient of the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award; with Best Production for Moby Dick from the Joseph Jefferson Awards in 2015; with one of the first Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s grants for Commissioning and Playwriting Initiative in 2015; with the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions recognizing exceptional nonprofits in 2016 along with a one million dollar grant; and the Artistic Achievement Award from the League of Chicago Theatres in 2017.
Under her leadership, the company created 29 world premieres, toured and/or co-produced nine original productions, including Lookingglass Alice, Clay, Around the World in 80 Days, Metamorphoses, The Last Act of Lilka Kadison, Treasure Island and Moby Dick; twice produced the story/circus/food extravaganza Cascabel with partners Frontera Grill and Silverguy Entertainment; retired $500,000 in debt; had operating surpluses seven out of the past 11 years; and completed a Capacity Building Assessment (CBA) looking at critical business drivers of the company.
Board Chairman John McGowan comments, “Under Rachel’s steadfast leadership, the company has enjoyed the most stable and productive period in our history. She has built a strong staff, assisted by a very capable deputy in General Manager Michele Anderson. Rachel orchestrated a new board structure and responsibilities and was the chief architect of our CBA, which has led to critical changes and investments in our infrastructure. She has been a champion of our Ensemble and their vision while always considering that our ‘theatre without a net’ cannot be achieved by putting the company at risk. With her guidance, we look forward to identifying a new leader to guide us in our fourth decade.”
Artistic Director Heidi Stillman adds, “On the eve of our 30th Anniversary Season, I am very proud that our ‘great experiment’ begun at Northwestern University continues to create new work and partnerships with our community. Rachel has been a true collaborator to the Ensemble and me and we are so grateful to her fierce love of the art and her commitment to the health of our company. Rachel’s leadership has set a high bar as we look for an Executive Director who will allow us to build on the many accomplishments during her tenure.”
Rachel Kraft comments, “From a very young age, the arts, and specifically theatre, have been my greatest passion. After 12 years at the Goodman and 12 years at Lookingglass, I am convinced of the unique place Chicago theater occupies in our country. Lookingglass’ bold mission to develop new work, primarily from within its ensemble, while sharing with the community its values of innovation, transformation and collaboration, remains an inspiration to me. I am proud of the Lookingglass marriage of Artists, Board and Staff and how the company is not afraid to learn and change. As Lookingglass prepares for its 30th Anniversary, I look forward to supporting a smooth transition and taking a personal ‘intermission’ to consider what form my service will take in the future.”
About Lookingglass Theatre Company
Inventive. Collaborative. Transformative. Lookingglass Theatre Company, recipient of the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award, was founded in 1988 by eight Northwestern University students. Now in its 29th season, Lookingglass is home to a multi-disciplined ensemble of artists who create story-centered theatrical work that is physical, aurally rich and visually metaphoric. The Company has staged 64 world premieres, received 143 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations, and work premiered at Lookingglass has been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Princeton, Hartford, Kansas City, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Louisville and St. Louis. Lookingglass original scripts have been produced across the United States. In 2016, Lookingglass received the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.
The Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago's landmark Water Tower Water Works opened in June 2003. In addition to developing and presenting ensemble work, Lookingglass Education and Community programs encourage creativity, teamwork and confidence with thousands of community members each year.
Lookingglass Theatre Company continues to expand its artistic, financial and institutional boundaries under the guidance of Artistic Director Heidi Stillman, Executive Director Rachel Kraft, Producing Director Philip R. Smith, Connectivity and Engagement Director Andrew White, General Manager Michele Anderson, a 24 member artistic ensemble, 23 artistic associates, an administrative staff and a dedicated board of directors led by Chairman John McGowan of CTC| myCFO (a part of BMO Financial Group) and President Nancy Timmers, civic leader and philanthropist. For more information, visit lookingglasstheatre.org.