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Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces new leadership.


Internationally acclaimed theater, television, and film director EDWARD HALL returns to Chicago Shakespeare to lead as Artistic Director

Prominent and respected arts executive KIMBERLY MOTES brings more than two decades of leadership experience to lead as Executive Director

Appointments underscore Theater’s commitment to bold artistic vision, dynamic breadth of programming with global reach, robust education programs, and dedicated service in the community

Chicago—July 19, 2023

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater Board of Directors today names internationally recognized director Edward Hall as Artistic Director and esteemed arts leader Kimberly Motes as Executive Director. This momentous appointment of new leadership—only the second in the Theater’s history—ushers in Chicago Shakespeare’s next chapter as the Tony Award-winning company approaches its fourth decade. Hall and Motes take the helm of a theater with a distinctive programmatic breadth, whose onstage artistry spans plays by Shakespeare, musicals, world premieres and new works in development, family productions, and theatrical presentations from around the globe alongside robust and renowned education programs and vibrant creative community engagement initiatives.

The leadership team succeeds the Theater’s founding Artistic Director Barbara Gaines, who stepped down last month after 37 years, and Executive Director Criss Henderson, who ended his 33-year tenure at the end of 2022. Hall and Motes will begin in mid-October.

Chicago Shakespeare Board of Directors Chair Paulita A. Pike shared, “We are incredibly excited to welcome Edward and Kimberly as leaders in this historic moment of transition. These ambitious, creative, and highly capable individuals will further raise Chicago Shakespeare’s profile with a bold, forward-thinking vision that encompasses the Theater’s multi-faceted programming and supports the creation of world-class work for our many audiences. Their passion for the art and spirit of collaboration make them well-suited to lead and support our incredible community of talented theater professionals.”

Acclaimed theater, television, and film director Edward Hall returns to Chicago Shakespeare to take on the role of Artistic Director, Carl and Marilynn Thoma Chair. The appointment marks a homecoming for Hall, who has maintained close ties with the company since he directed the Rose Rage trilogy of Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3 at Chicago Shakespeare in 2003, garnering significant critical acclaim and the Jeff Award for Best Direction. This epic theatrical event went on to play the Duke on 42nd Street, marking Chicago Shakespeare’s off-Broadway and NYC debut. In February 2024, he is set to direct this season’s Richard III starring 2023 Tony Award-nominee Katy Sullivan in the Courtyard Theater.

Son of British theater legend and Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall, Edward Hall has built his love of Shakespeare around original interpretations of the Bard’s plays, making this a central focus of his own career. In 1997, he founded the ensemble-based Propeller Theatre Company, performing Shakespeare’s plays in London’s West End and on tour to Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the United States, and beyond. He has directed Julius Caesar, Henry V, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona for the Royal Shakespeare Company; and his production of The Taming of the Shrew was included alongside Barbara Gaines’ Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 as part of the RSC’s Complete Works Festival in 2006/07. The New York Times Magazine raved of his career, “what Edward Hall seems to do is work at the cellular level, cracking the DNA code of the text and replicating it onstage.”

Hall led London’s Hampstead Theatre for nearly a decade as Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive, where he was known for ground-breaking work, including the Olivier Award-winning Sunny Afternoon, Chariots of Fire, The Judas Kiss, and Ecstasy—all of which transferred to the West End. In 2019, he staged the UK premiere of the Pulitzer prize-winning Cost of Living, starring Adrian Lester and Katy Sullivan. Following his appointment to Hampstead Theatre in 2010, Hall took the company from the brink of bankruptcy through a dramatic transformation into one of the nation’s most successful theaters for new work development—producing over 100 world premieres. While at Hampstead, he championed wider accessibility in the theater industry: he launched the Downstairs incubator space for early career playwrights, rolled out discount ticket programs, young writers’ programs, and as far back as 2013 began innovating with “freestreaming” on global digital platforms. His extensive film and television credits include 2019’s Blithe Spirit starring Dame Judi Dench, Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher, and Leslie Mann, as well as Gentleman Jack, Restless starring Hayley Atwell and Charlotte Rampling, Partners in Crime, The Durrells, and the season finale for series 4 of the resoundingly successful Downton Abbey. Upcoming releases include the Sky TV holiday film Joy To The World, starring Timothy Spall as Father Christmas.

Chicago Shakespeare Founder and outgoing artistic director Barbara Gaines shared, “it is such an immense privilege to pass the torch to two such brilliant and insightful leaders as Edward and Kimberly. They already seem to intrinsically understand the soul of Chicago Shakespeare and I have no doubt that they’ll write an incredible next chapter for the organization. Edward has been such a dear friend over the last twenty years, and I couldn’t trust anyone more—he’s a true artist and leader. What a tremendous joy for the Theater and for our beloved city to have both Edward and Kimberly leading Chicago Shakespeare.”

“I am honored and excited to be entrusted with the responsibility of building on Barbara Gaines’ extraordinary legacy,” shared Edward Hall. “Chicago Shakespeare Theater has always held a special place in my life both, as an inspiring theater to work at and as an institution that delivers a brilliantly dynamic and broad range of work to a diverse audience in Chicago and beyond. I look forward to partnering with Kimberly as we grow and develop this work across all three theater spaces with fresh and invigorating Shakespeare, musicals, new work, and world theater—and to nourishing the extraordinary education program that operates both on site and beyond delivering so much for this city. Becoming part of Chicago’s vibrant theater community is a hugely exciting prospect.”

Incoming Executive Director Kimberly Motes brings more than 25 years of senior leadership experience within the performing arts and higher education in Minnesota and Washington, DC. Since 2016, Motes has served as the Managing Director of the Tony Award-winning Children’s Theatre Company (CTC), the nation’s largest and most acclaimed theater dedicated to serving multigenerational audiences. With a budget of $13.1 million, the Minneapolis-based company employs over 400 people and serves 250,000 community members annually. Her tenure has been defined by demonstrated successes in financial management and revenue growth, increasing philanthropic contributions and achieving the organization’s highest-ever ticket sales. During her tenure, CTC has produced 46 plays and musicals including 15 new works, transferred productions and co-produced with the Alliance Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, the Old Globe Theatre, Penumbra, Seattle Children’s Theatre, the New Victory; partnered with several commercial producers including Kevin McCollum and Universal Theatrical Group; and toured a production to South Africa and throughout the United States. She led two strategic planning processes, increased the theater’s equity, diversity, inclusion and justice efforts to eliminate barriers to participation for those underrepresented in theater, and forged many meaningful community partnerships. In addition to her expertise in finance, fundraising, strategy, producing, branding, and operations, Motes possesses a proven track record for driving impactful programming in classrooms and communities, which aligns with Chicago Shakespeare’s core values and compliments the Theater’s artistic strengths. Additionally, Motes has served the Twin Cities arts communities as the Managing Director of Theater Latté Da, and the first Executive Director of the Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts, where she led the efforts to build, develop, and actualize this new arts center.

Motes began her career in Washington, DC at the Washington Ballet. She then spent five years at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where she was responsible for adult arts education programming and created a national ballet training program with legendary ballerina Suzanne Farrell. Motes was the Director of Development at Arena Stage at the start of Artistic Director Molly Smith’s tenure, where Motes produced Arena’s 50th Anniversary Gala and reversed a five year downward trend in giving.

Motes also spent five years in higher education senior leadership. As the Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement at the University of St. Thomas, she led a comprehensive re-branding of the university and as the Vice President of Institutional Advancement at the College of Saint Benedict, she produced the Centennial Celebration year for the college. An active community member, she currently serves on the board of directors of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable (where she chairs the membership committee) and Meet Minneapolis. She is a member of the Women Presidents Organization.

Kimberly Motes said, “I have admired Criss and Barbara’s ambition and entrepreneurial spirit over the past three decades. Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s mission is compelling especially as it seeks to engage artists and audiences in dynamic, life-long relationships that bridge countries, cultures, and generations. I am excited to partner with Edward, the talented staff, Board of Directors, and, most importantly, the Chicago community to envision and realize a vibrant next stage for the Theater.”

Chicago Shakespeare’s international leadership search was conducted by Search Committees comprised of board members and Theater leadership and staff, under the guidance of executive search firm Spencer Stuart. The committees engaged in a rigorous and inclusive process and sought extensive input from the Board of Directors, staff, artists, and key community stakeholders.

Bio: Edward Hall

Multi-award-winning international director Edward Hall directs film, theater and television and was previously the Artistic Director of the Hampstead Theatre for a decade and founder and Artistic Director of Propeller Shakespeare. He has just finished shooting a Sky TV film, Joy to the World, starring Timothy Spall and produced by Studio Hamburg. His most recent award-winning theater work includes the West End transfer of Chariots of Fire by Mike Bartlett, the “Best New Musical” Olivier Award-winner Sunny Afternoon by Joe Penhall, and Cost of Living by Martyna Majok starring Adrian Lester and Katy Sullivan. As Artistic Director and joint CEO of Hampstead Theatre, Hall spent a decade nurturing and developing new writing, producing over a hundred new plays across the two stages and bringing the theater back from the verge of bankruptcy. He has also served as an Associate at the National Theatre, The Watermill Theatre, and toured all over the world with his own company Propeller. On screen, he was lead director on Season 2 of Sally Wainwright’s BBC/HBO series Gentleman Jack, which garnered a five-star review in The Guardian. His first feature film, an adaptation of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, starring Judi Dench, Isla Fisher, Leslie Mann, and Dan Stevens for Studio Canal, opened in 2020. Hall has many notable television credits, including Restless, the outstanding 2 x 90’ period thriller adapted by William Boyd from his bestselling novel for the BBC/Sundance, starring Hayley Atwell, Charlotte Rampling, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon; The Durrells for Sid Gentle/ITV; and the season 4 finale of Downton Abbey for Carnival/NBCU.

Bio: Kimberly Motes

Kimberly Motes has been the Managing Director since 2016 for the Tony Award-winning Children’s Theatre Company (CTC), the nation’s largest and most acclaimed theater dedicated to multigenerational audiences. She leads all business aspects and revenue areas of the theater as well as education, equity, diversity and inclusion, community engagement, and board management. During her tenure, CTC produced 46 plays/musicals for the stage including 15 commissioned new works and six co-productions/transfers, increased contributed income, completed a $25 million capital campaign, and achieved the highest ticket sales in its history all during unprecedented and challenging times. Motes has held several leadership roles in the arts and higher education in Minnesota including Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement at the University of St. Thomas, Vice President of Institutional Advancement for the College of Saint Benedict, Managing Director at Theater Latté Da, and Executive Director at the Cowles Center for Music and the Performing Arts. Motes spent 13 years in Washington, DC where she was the Director of Development at Arena Stage. She also led adult arts education programming and a ballet training program with legendary ballerina Suzanne Farrell at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She has served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Minnesota State Arts Board and spoken at many conferences. She earned her BA in music from the College of Saint Benedict. She chairs the Membership Committee for the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable Board of Directors, serves on the Meet Minneapolis Board of Directors, and is a member of the Women Presidents Organization. She has facilitated a biweekly Zoom meeting for managing leaders of large producing theaters since the start of the pandemic through Theatre Communications Group.

About Chicago Shakespeare Theater

A Regional Tony Award recipient, Chicago Shakespeare Theater produces a bold and innovative year-round season—plays, musicals, world premieres, family productions, and theatrical presentations from around the globe—alongside education programming for students, teachers, and lifelong learners, and engagement with communities across the city.

Founded in 1986, the Theater has evolved and expanded to present as many as twenty productions and 650 performances annually and has been honored with numerous national and international awards. Chicago Shakespeare is the city’s leading presenter of international work and has toured its own productions to five continents. The Theater is also dedicated to welcoming the next generation of theatergoers.

A national leader in the field, the Theater’s arts-in-literacy programs support the work in classrooms across the region for tens of thousands of students each year by bringing complex texts to life onstage and through a variety of professional learning opportunities for teachers. Now in its twelfth year, Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks remains a key component of CoLab, the Theater’s year-round program rooted in engagement with neighborhoods and collaborations with local artists.

As a nonprofit organization, Chicago Shakespeare is committed to the values of service, ingenuity, and collaboration. At its core, it is about people: connecting audiences and artists, partnering with teachers and students, and sharing with friends and neighbors. It is in this spirit that the Theater upholds its commitment to be an increasingly diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible organization. The Theater strives to engage today’s artists and audiences in active and critical conversations with the work of its namesake playwright, William Shakespeare.

Located on Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier, Chicago Shakespeare’s campus features the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, and the Thoma Theater Upstairs. Onstage, in classrooms and neighborhoods across the city, and in venues around the world, Chicago Shakespeare is a multifaceted cultural hub—inviting audiences, artists, and community members to share powerful stories that connect and inspire.

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