jakub | March 10, 2024

AMERICAN THEATRE | Lookingglass Meets Funding Goal, Names Kasey Foster Artistic Director

Lanise Antoine Shelley and Kasey Foster in Lookingglass Theater Company's “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” (Photo by Liz Lauren)

CHICAGO: Lookingglass Theatre Company, which temporarily paused operations in June 2023, has announced new leadership and a new business plan for the organization that will see its programming return in the fall. Ensemble member Kasey Foster will succeed former artistic director Heidi Stillman. For the last six months, Foster has served on the interim artistic leadership team alongside Kareem Bandealy, J. Nicole Brooks, and Phil Smith, with the goal of working toward the “transformation of the company.”

“Lookingglass’s home on Michigan Avenue is a location that is primed and ready to become a center for Chicago arts, history, and social events,” said Foster in a statement. “This historic landmark building survived a great fire, and now we too emerge from the ashes. To realize our mission to ‘change, charge, and empower’ while providing Chicago and its visitors a place to gather, to learn, to experience theatre at its most theatrical, and to have fun, today and into the future.”

A multi-hyphenate artist, Foster is known for acting credits Mesmerized (Chicago Children’s Theatre), The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (Goodman, STC, and the Old Globe), Steadfast Tin Soldier (Lookingglass), and Mr. Dickens’ Hat (Northlight). Other Lookingglass productions include The Little Prince, Moby Dick, Treasure Island, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas. She has created and directed over 50 original works in Chicago.

Lookingglass also announced that it met its current 2023-24 fundraising goal of $2.5 million. Moving forward, the organization’s ensemble, staff, and board will operate with a new business plan aimed at strengthening the company’s financial sustainability and focusing on what makes Lookingglass unique. The new business plan includes presenting two productions per year, building co-production relationships, supporting new works with artistic development intensives and an artist-in-residence program, incorporating more education offerings, and expanding touring productions. 

Using a 2019 capital funding grant from the state of Illinois, Lookingglass will renovate their lobby space at the Water Tower Water Works building. Renovations will begin this spring and will feature a bar with fare from local vendors. The space will also be used for programming aimed at building community. Programming is scheduled to begin in November.

Additionally, Lookingglass has announced that Atra Asdou, Wendy Mateo, Ericka Ratcliff, and Matthew C. Yee have joined as ensemble members.

Founded in 1988 by graduates of Northwestern University, Lookingglass Theatre Company is an ensemble-based company centered around imaginative, cutting-edge new work and education. Recipient of the 2011 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, its notable world premieres include Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses and David Catlin’s circus tribute to Lewis Carroll. Lookingglass’s work has been produced in more than a dozen U.S. cities. As of 2022, the theatre’s budget was around $4.3 million.

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