Chicago Dramatists has officially named Meghan Beals as its new artistic director. Beals had been serving as interim artistic director for Chicago Dramatists since February, 2015 when the organization’s long-time artistic director, Russ Tutterow, moved into an emeritus role and later lost a courageous battle with cancer.
Known for her progressive approach to theater, andher strong advocacy for artistic vision and new work, Beals, a popular Chicago-based director, intends to implement new strategies and programs to take Chicago Dramatists into its next era.
In a prepared statement, Neill Shanahan, president of the board of Chicago Dramatists said: “We didn’t feel the need to conduct a search for a new artistic director because we knew we already had the best the person for the job. Meghan is a seasoned leader who has the skills, experience and proven track record to grow our organization and our national footprint. Her innovation is equaled only by her passion and commitment to making our playwrights shine. She will do a great job of honoring the traditions Russ built over the last three decades while bringing her own signature style to the helm.”
Beals resume, which spans more than 15 years, includes strong ties to local and national theaters. She also has a long history with Chicago Dramatists, joining the company as an associate artist in 2008, and then serving as associate artistic director from 2011 to 2013. She was an artistic associate at the Pearl Theatre Company in New York, literary manager and resident dramaturg at Northlight Theatre, project associate for First Look Repertory at Steppenwolf, and curator and producer for the Chicago Park District’s Culture, Arts & Nature department. Beals was a TCG/Andrew W. Mellon Leadership University grantee in 2012, supporting her professional network and development as a new-play facilitator.
Also in a prepared statement, Beals said: “It feels great to be back home at Chicago Dramatists, working with our amazing playwrights again. It’s an honor to be entrusted with an organization built with so much love by my mentor Russ Tutterow. Now we begin an invigorating new chapter in Chicago Dramatists’ existence; I am dedicated to keeping Dramatists vital to the new-play development field by re-energizing our programming, recruiting new writers and opening our doors to exciting collaborators across the city. I look forward to working with the staff, board and playwrights in maintaining Chicago Dramatists as the new-play development center in Chicago.”
Celebrating its 37th year, Chicago Dramatists is one of a handful of organizations in the U.S. that exists solely to develop playwrights and plays, and provide a stage for new work. In this year alone, Chicago Dramatists has provided nearly 100 readings of new plays and more than 380 class sessions for more than 450 registrants. This staple of the Chicago theater community has employed approximately 350 actors, with over 850 contracts last season, and issues the most Actors Equity Association contracts in the state of Illinois annually.
Distinguished alumni of Chicago Dramatists include Lydia R. Diamond, Rick Cleveland, Keith Huff, Tanya Saracho and Rebecca Gilman, among many others.