Imagine: it’s your second day on the job and the first day of tech for Swing State, and you’ve headed downstairs for introductions. “Cool,” you think, “a second chance to remember some of the 140 names you’ve learned in the past 30 hours.” It’s all going swimmingly. Until it comes to you—right after the director (that’d be Robert Falls, the guy who so legendarily ran this theater as its Artistic Director for 35 years) and you find your mouth making the words, “I’m Susan Booth. The Artistic Director of Goodman Theatre.”
I’m going to have to journal on that one.
Here’s the report on the first day and a half:
This place is full of passionate and brilliant people. From front-of-house staff who meet our audiences with authentically warm welcomes, to a board of directors who are deeply invested in the health and thriving of this 97-year-old theater, to teams of marketers, fund raisers, production folks, educators, artists, and the fourteen other areas of practice that I’ll remember to list next time.
This place is also full of weird corners that lead to places other than places you were intending to go (this is true mostly of the administrative offices, where I’ll likely leave breadcrumbs for the next few weeks).
And—this place is full of memory and possibility. The memory part comes from my backstory: I started my career in Chicago, and the last job I had before leaving town was as the Director of New Plays for the Goodman. It’s where I met my husband, learned my craft, made lifelong friendships, and experienced a standard of organizational excellence that is largely unparalleled in our field.
The possibility part comes from imagining who we need/want/ought to be as we approach our 100th anniversary. How can we more fully be a theater-of-welcome for all of Chicago? What are the stories, voices, viewpoints of our city that demand our attention and audience? How can we be of impactful service to Chicago and its people?
I’m looking forward to figuring all of that out. Right after I figure out how to get backstage.
Susan V. Booth is Goodman Theatre’s new Artistic Director.