Susan V. Booth has been named the next artistic director of the Goodman Theatre, Chicago’s largest not-for-profit theatre company. Booth, who will succeed current Artistic Director Robert Falls, will be the eighth creative leader, and the first woman, in the Goodman's 97 years. Falls departs the Goodman after 35 years with the company.
Booth, who assumes leadership October 3, will arrive at the Goodman following 21 years at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre Company, where, as Jennings Hertz Artistic Director, she doubled the theatre’s annual operating budget and its endowment; earned national recognition for artistic excellence, including the 2007 Regional Tony and six world-premiere musicals that later opened on Broadway; and completed a multi-year campaign to build a new mainstage theatre and rehearsal studios.
Booth's arrival in Chicago will mark a homecoming for the artist, who has directed throughout the Chicago theatre community. She also taught for Northwestern and DePaul Universities and, as the Goodman's Director of New Play Development from 1993 through 2001, shepherded new works from Luis Alfaro, Rebecca Gilman, José Rivera, and Regina Taylor.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we are thrilled to welcome Susan Booth, an incredible artist and civic leader of national repute, as Goodman Theatre Artistic Director following her long tenure at Atlanta’s most important theatre company. Her breadth of innovative leadership experience, artistic triumphs, depth of creative connections, and the unparalleled care and commitment she’s demonstrated to the creative community makes Susan a great fit for the Goodman. She will be a dynamic force to lead us towards our Centennial Anniversary in 2025, and beyond,” said Goodman Chairman Jeff Hesse and Board President Maria Wynne in a joint statement.
“The Goodman has long played a foundational role in my work as an artist and as an artistic leader. To have come up in a theatre so deeply committed to bravery, authenticity, and muscular aesthetics was a gift—a gift I've been able to take with me and build upon over the last 20 years in Atlanta,” added Booth. “Now, to come home to this place as its next artistic leader—particularly at this moment of seismic and invigorating change in our field—is profoundly moving and humbling. I'm beyond grateful to the Board, the staff, the artists, and the leadership of the Goodman for this extraordinary opportunity.”
Current Artistic Director Falls stated, "I couldn’t be more thrilled to pass the ‘artistic director baton’ to Susan Booth. She’s an inspired choice with outstanding qualifications, a keen aesthetic eye, and long-standing ties to the Chicago community. Having worked with her for almost a decade when she was the Goodman’s director of New Play Development, I know she’ll bring inspired leadership, energy, and fresh ideas to what I’m sure will be an exciting new chapter for the theatre. I’ve no doubt that Susan will build upon the company’s legacy of artistic excellence and commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Atlanta has been bettered by Susan’s innovative programming and civic engagement—as I am certain Chicago will be."
In addition to directing nearly 50 productions, Booth developed distinctive community programming at the Alliance. She previously was co-artistic director at Theatre on the Lake and held artistic and outreach roles at Northlight and Wisdom Bridge Theatres. She holds degrees from Denison and Northwestern Universities and was a fellow of the National Critics Institute and the Kemper Foundation. Booth also held teaching positions at Emory University and is a past president of the board of directors for Theatre Communications Group.