Lookingglass Executive Director Rachel Kraft Stepping Down

by Michael Eddy
Rachel Kraft
Rachel Kraft

Lookingglass Theatre Company announces that Rachel Kraft has decided to step down as Executive Director after 12 years with the company. She will remain at Lookingglass through the end of the calendar year as they search for a successor. Lookingglass is in the process of choosing a search firm and the search is anticipated to begin in July.

Kraft has been the Executive Director of Lookingglass Theatre since September 2005. During her tenure, the company and its ensemble were honored as the Recipient of the 2011 Regional Theatre Tony Award; with Best Production for Moby Dick from the Joseph Jefferson Awards in 2015; with one of the first Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s grants for Commissioning and Playwriting Initiative in 2015; with the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions recognizing exceptional nonprofits in 2016 along with a one million dollar grant; and the Artistic Achievement Award from the League of Chicago Theatres in 2017. 

Under her leadership, the company created 29 world premieres, toured and/or co-produced nine original productions, including Lookingglass Alice, Clay, Around the World in 80 Days, Metamorphoses, The Last Act of Lilka Kadison, Treasure Island and Moby Dick; twice produced the story/circus/food extravaganza Cascabel with partners Frontera Grill and Silverguy Entertainment; retired $500,000 in debt; had operating surpluses seven out of the past 11 years; and completed a Capacity Building Assessment (CBA) looking at critical business drivers of the company.

“Under Rachel’s steadfast leadership, the company has enjoyed the most stable and productive period in our history,” says Board Chairman John McGowan. ”She has built a strong staff, assisted by a very capable deputy in General Manager Michele Anderson. Rachel orchestrated a new board structure and responsibilities and was the chief architect of our CBA, which has led to critical changes and investments in our infrastructure. She has been a champion of our Ensemble and their vision while always considering that our ‘theatre without a net’ cannot be achieved by putting the company at risk. With her guidance, we look forward to identifying a new leader to guide us in our fourth decade.”

Artistic Director Heidi Stillman adds, “On the eve of our 30th Anniversary Season, I am very proud that our ‘great experiment’ begun at Northwestern University continues to create new work and partnerships with our community. Rachel has been a true collaborator to the Ensemble and me and we are so grateful to her fierce love of the art and her commitment to the health of our company. Rachel’s leadership has set a high bar as we look for an Executive Director who will allow us to build on the many accomplishments during her tenure.”

“From a very young age, the arts, and specifically theatre, have been my greatest passion,” Kraft comments. “After 12 years at the Goodman and 12 years at Lookingglass, I am convinced of the unique place Chicago theater occupies in our country. Lookingglass’ bold mission to develop new work, primarily from within its ensemble, while sharing with the community its values of innovation, transformation, and collaboration, remains an inspiration to me. I am proud of the Lookingglass marriage of Artists, Board, and Staff and how the company is not afraid to learn and change. As Lookingglass prepares for its 30th Anniversary, I look forward to supporting a smooth transition and taking a personal ‘intermission’ to consider what form my service will take in the future.”

Further information about Lookingglass Theatre Company: (lookingglasstheatre.org)