“Ultimately what any artist wants is for their work to be seen by the largest possible audience,” explains Robert Falls, who has achieved that goal and far more as the guiding force behind the Goodman Theatre for the past three decades. In the process, he has attracted top-notch talent and personally directed more than 30 major productions that have won numerous awards and accolades. “We’re about serving our community here and putting together the most exciting seasons with the most exciting artists that we can,” Falls says. “A theater has to be about taking risks and challenging the audience. That’s how it works.”
Since Falls took the reins in 1986, the Goodman has adroitly balanced classics such as Tony Award-winning productions of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and trailblazing renditions of Shakespeare with contemporary works like Chinglish, which later played on Broadway and became an important part of the American repertoire. “What I learn from the masters somehow energizes me to work with contemporary playwrights,” Falls explains, noting that he is currently overseeing a new production of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.
According to Falls, the wealth of talent in Chicago and its population of cosmopolitan theater enthusiasts are a constant source of personal inspiration. “Chicago audiences rival or actually are greater than any I’ve seen in the world for how smart, committed and loyal they are,” Falls says. “In dozens of productions over 30 years at the Goodman, I’ve never done one that I’ve not loved and had a really wonderful time working on.”