Live indoor performances may be suspended due to COVID-19, but Goodman Theatre continues its operations, serving up a robust slate of new and reimagined programming for its Chicago community and beyond. Over the past year, more than 150,000 people consumed 12 online streaming productions, beginning with Jocelyn Bioh’s School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play directed by Lili-Anne Brown, the Chicago premiere that was paused several days before opening night, and including Robert Falls’ Tony Award-winning triumph, Death of a Salesman, in a collaboration with Showtime and in support of The Actors Fund. Ten live outdoor, socially distanced performances of Cheryl L. West’s Fannie Lou Hamer: Speak On It! directed by Henry Godinez, in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, drew at-capacity crowds and standing ovations nightly. The Goodman safely delivered its beloved annual holiday tradition in a new format: A Christmas Carol—An Audio Play was available for listening online and in two performances that aired on Christmas Eve and Christmas on WBEZ and VOCALO, in partnership with Chicago Public Radio. In addition, 10 free Education and Engagement virtual offerings—nearly half of which were new—engaged hundreds of youth and adult participants.
"The past year has been, at once, an opportunity for reinvention and introspection, to reflect on our impact as an organization and how best to serve the community in which we operate. I'm proud of the bold, creative new thinking from our artists and staff towards developing each one of these exciting performances and programs—output that has helped keep our audiences connected," said Artistic Director Robert Falls. "At the same time, the challenges of the past year have called us to look inward, at the ways in which we live our values. I'm grateful for the collaboration at every level of the organization—including establishing an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Access (IDEAA) action plan for Goodman Theatre—that has helped further the innovative ways we can use our art, assets and resources to help contribute to a more just, equitable and anti-racist American society."
"We have been able to implement initiatives that will outlive this pandemic—new efforts that expand our ability to provide access, serve our community and reach new audiences," said Executive Director Roche Schulfer. "We are grateful to the Goodman Board of Trustees, our sponsors, staff and our Union partners whose commitment and support made it possible to grow in every way during this challenging time."
A TIMELINE OF PRODUCTIONS, EVENTS AND PROGRAMS, MARCH 2020 – MARCH 2021
Offerings appear in reverse chronological order
Future Labs Virtual Reading Series
Tokens of Promise
By Ada A. | Directed by Sydney Chatman
Streams March 31 – April 6, 2021
In Tokens of Promise, there's only one open "diversity" analyst position at this start-up. And the minorities must duke it out to access the sweet privilege of employment. A wicked satire about the modern-day job search and scarcity mentality, Ada A.'s new play exposes the inherent competition in employment that leads us to forsake our humanity out of necessity and survival. Up to nine workshops and presentations of new plays will appear this season as part of Future Labs—the Goodman's newest artistic program that supports living writers and develop new plays (joining existing efforts including New Stages, Playwrights Unit and two dozen+ individual artist commissions). Since the program was announced in January 2021, two plays have experienced virtual readings, including Martin Yousif Zebari's Layalina, directed by Azar Kazemi, and The Secretaries by Omer Abbas Salem, directed by Audrey Francis. Designed primarily for Chicago-based writers who have not had a play produced at the Goodman, Future Labs develops works authored and directed by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander), SWANA (South West Asian/North African) and other artists of color. Selected projects receive rehearsal time, artistic, dramaturgical and casting support and an optional free public reading. The new series is curated by Quenna L. Barrett (Associate Director of Education and Engagement), Jonathan L. Green (Literary and New Works Manager) and Ken-Matt Martin (Associate Producer) and a Goodman Staff Evaluation Team composed of individuals of intersectional identities and in areas across the theater.
A Video Streaming Series of Four Goodman Productions in Limited Virtual Runs
Now through May 9, 2021—free and on demand
Experience a handful of signature Goodman productions from the theater’s “video vault”—including world premieres, a re-imagined classic and a ground-breaking international collaboration—each appearing in a limited streaming run over the next two months. Series includes How To Catch Creation by Christina Anderson, directed by Niegel Smith (now through March 28); Teatro Buendía’s (Cuba) Pedro Páramo by Raquel Carrío, inspired by the Novel by Juan Rulfo, directed by Flora Lauten (March 29 – April 11); Smokefall by Noah Haidle, directed by Anne Kauffman (April 12 – 25); and Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare, directed by Robert Falls (April 26 – May 9). Free reservations are available at GoodmanTheatre.org/Encore. The Goodman is grateful for the support of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lead Corporate Sponsor, and ITW, Corporate Sponsor Partner.
Until the Flood
By Dael Orlandersmith
Directed by Neel Keller
Now streaming (through 2023)
“An urgent moral inquest” (New York Times Critic’s Pick) “so palpably compassionate it achieves a great beauty by bringing us together rather than driving us apart” (Chicago Tribune), Until the Flood is based on extensive interviews following the 2014 shooting of Black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson. A tour-de-force one-woman production that powerfully explores the roiling currents of American history, race and politics that exploded in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri and sent shock waves across the nation. The Goodman presents the broadcast premiere in partnership with All Arts—the free broadcast and digital platform dedicated to the arts—and New York’s Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (where the production was filmed in 2018) and six U.S. regional theaters, including A Contemporary Theatre (Seattle); Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles); Denver Center for the Performing Arts; Milwaukee Repertory Theater; Portland Center Stage (Oregon); and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis—the theater that originally commissioned Orlandersmith to write the play in 2015. Until the Flood is available for on-demand viewing on ALL ARTS for three years—through fall of 2023. The Goodman is grateful for the support of Corporate Sponsor Partner BMO Harris Bank.
A Benefit Event for Education and Engagement at Goodman Theatre
Premiered February 22, 2021; now streaming at GoodmanTheatre.org/Tomorrow
Raising nearly $350,000 for the Goodman's Education and Engagement programs, Reimagining Tomorrow was the theater's annual fundraiser reimagined as a 50-minute online event. Tony Award-nominated director Liesl Tommy—director of the Goodman’s upcoming world-premiere musical adaptation of The Outsiders—joined Walter Director of Education and Engagement Willa J. Taylor for a conversation about how artists, artisans and educators move the industry forward, inspired by lessons learned in 2020. Proceeds benefitted the theater’s programs for youth, schools and lifelong learners—all offered FREE of charge to participants, and funded entirely by individual contributions. Event leadership included co-chairs Zoraida Sambolin, Goodman Trustee and Emmy Award-winning journalist and Weekday Edition co-anchor of NBC News 5 Today; Loretta Cooney, Goodman Trustee; and Women’s Board Members Jacquelyn Robinson and Carole Wood; and Benefit Events Leadership Chair Joan Clifford.
By Olivia Ridley | Directed by Ken-Matt Martin
December 14 – 20, 2020
Goodman Theatre was proud to participate in the Digital Premiere of seven winning 10-minute plays of #ENOUGH: Plays to End Gun Violence—a national short play competition for middle and high school students. The Goodman produced Ghost Gun by Olivia Ridley, a New Jersey-based writer and high school senior whose play was selected from nearly 200 submissions from 23 states (and three countries) in #ENOUGH’s call for teens to write short plays that confront the issue of gun violence.
A Christmas Carol—An Audio Play
By Charles Dickens | Adapted by Tom Creamer
Adapted for Audio by Neena Arndt, Jessica Thebus and Richard Woodbury
Directed by Jessica Thebus
Streamed December 1 – 31, 2020
More than 100,000 people experienced A Christmas Carol—An Audio Play, the Goodman's iconic Chicago tradition recreated for free audio consumption. In addition, the Goodman partnered with public media stations WBEZ 91.5 FM and Vocalo 91.1 FM two special airings on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Directed by Jessica Thebus and starring Larry Yando in his 13th year as Ebenezer Scrooge, the Goodman’s 43rd annual production was voiced by an all-Chicago cast of 19 and featured the show’s signature soundscape. The Goodman is grateful to Bank of America, the Major Corporate Sponsor of A Christmas Carol—An Audio Play.
Death of a Salesman
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Robert Falls
Presented in collaboration with Showtime and in support of The Actors Fund
Streamed October 21 – 25, 2020
Record traffic to GoodmanTheatre.org—more than 40,000 views—followed the first opportunity to view Robert Falls’ critically acclaimed Tony Award-winning Broadway production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman in two decades. This unprecedented collaboration with Showtime raised more than $100,000 to benefit The Actors Fund. Captured on film in 2000 for Showtime and not aired since its original release, this landmark production featured the Broadway cast—starring two-time Tony Award winner Brian Dennehy. The New York Times hailed Dennehy's Loman as "played with majestic, unnerving transparency" and lauded Falls’ "powerhouse staging." The production was the winner of four Tony Awards in 1999, including Best Revival of a Play, Best Actor in a Play (Brian Dennehy), Best Featured Actress in a Play (Elizabeth Franz) and Best Direction of a Play (Falls). This production of Death of a Salesman was produced on Broadway by David Richenthal, Jujamcyn Theaters, Allan S. Gordon, Fox Theatricals, in association with Jerry Frankel, Roundabout Theatre Company & Pace Theatrical. Executive Producer Robert Cole.
Fannie Lou Hamer: Speak On It!
By Cheryl L. West | Directed by Henry Godinez
Produced in collaboration with the Chicago Park District
Appeared live in 10 performances in Chicago Parks, September 17 – October 8, 2020
Thousands of Chicagoans from Englewood to North Lawndale to Portage Park turned out to experience the free, socially-distanced outdoor engagement of Cheryl L. West’s electrifying rally cry, Fannie Lou Hamer: Speak On It! (a 40-minute abridged version of West’s play, Fannie). For her critically acclaimed performance in the title role as civil and voting rights activist Ms. Hamer, E. Faye Butler was named 2020 “Chicagoan of the Year for Theater” by the Chicago Tribune—“When the full story is written of the recovery of the Chicago theater from the COVID-19 catastrophe, let this be remembered: E. Faye Butler was the first one back out there.” Goodman Theatre is grateful for the support of PNC Bank (Arts in Community Sponsor), Abbott Fund (Sponsor Partner) and Allstate Insurance Company (Youth Arts Sponsor).
New and Expanded Education and Engagement programs (including four for Youth, offered Summer 2020)
“Strike! The Youth Political Theater Project”
“Writing in the Face of Fear”
“The Best Part—An Introduction to Writing Scripts”
Hundreds of participants across 10 virtual programs—four of them brand new—engaged with the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs, led by Walter Director of Education and Engagement Willa J. Taylor and team. The Goodman’s popular summer program, InterGens, which brings together high school students and experienced story tellers to create original devised work, expanded to run year-round. The public-facing performances for youth programs drew nearly 3,000 views on YouTube.
Presented in collaboration with Northwestern Prison Education Program
Directed by Sydney Chatman
Streamed lived on July 3, 2020
The virtual premiere of three short plays authored by incarcerated students at Stateville Correctional Center (Crest Hill, IL)—Parameters of Closeness by Andre Patterson; Ain’t Nothing Like Quality Time by Taurean Decatur; and Comic Books and Candy by Antonio McDowell—all directed by former Goodman Michael Maggio Fellow Sydney Chatman—was the result of a Spring 2019 playwriting course taught by playwright and Goodman Artistic Associate Rebecca Gilman as part of the Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP).
Live @ Five and Artist Encounter Online Conversations
Initiated May 1, 2020 and ongoing
Thousands of viewers tuned in over the course of the past year for Live @ Five and Artist Encounter online discussions with acclaimed artists, including Kimberly Belflower, Jocelyn Bioh, Lili-Anne Brown, Kate Buddeke, Eleanor Burgess, Larissa Fasthorse, Henry Godinez, Allen Hamilton, Ted Koch, Nathan Lane, Stephanie March, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Pickering, Lisa Portes, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Joey Solloway, Luis Valdez and Mary Zimmerman.
School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play
By Jocelyn Bioh | Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
Streamed online April 2-26 and May 7-31, 2020
Nearly 6,000 households around the globe streamed the Goodman’s Chicago premiere of the off-Broadway smash sensation, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, which had been captured on video (by the Goodman’s Video Producer Cody Nieset and Videographer Alberto Mendoza, with assistance from Matt Hooks) just prior to the suspension order. In addition, the Goodman Education and Engagement team made the online production available to educators for more than 1,600 students from 20 Chicago Public Schools who would have seen the performance as part of the theater's free School Matinee Series. The limited online run was hailed as “a boon for theater-lovers worldwide” (TheRoot.com) and “a first-class production of a first-class play (in) an online run that I recommend very strongly; the kind of show for which webcasting was made” (Wall Street Journal).
ABOUT GOODMAN THEATRE
Chicago’s theater since 1925, Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit arts and community organization in the heart of the Loop, distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and community engagement.
Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics. Artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards and more than 160 Jeff Awards, among other accolades. The Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Its longtime annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, now in its fourth decade, has created a new generation of
theatergoers in Chicago. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production and program partner with national and international companies and Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.
Using the tools of the theatrical profession, the Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs aim to develop generations of citizens who understand the cultures and stories of diverse voices. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement 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.
As a cultural and community organization invested in quality, diversity and community, Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago. Goodman Theatre's Action Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Access (IDEAA) was born out of the belief that progress means action, which includes building on the decades-long commitment to using art, assets and resources to contribute to a more just, equitable and anti-racist society.
Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.
Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Kimberly Senior, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Jeff Hesse is Chairman of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Fran Del Boca is Women’s Board President and Megan McCarthy Hayes is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals