New Artistic Director for BOM

Posted by Heidi on August 21, 2008

Company Members

I am extremely pleased to announce that we have hired Luke Hatton as our new Artistic Director.

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As you can see, he’s pretty serious about the job.

As many of our most devoted friends know, a little over a year ago BOM co-founder and Artistic Director Halena Kays announced that she was taking a sabbatical for the 2007-2008 program year while she pursued other opportunities. In the interim we hired the amazing Laura Grey to serve as Artistic Director. For the last year Laura has directed “That’s Weird, Grandma” and most of our school shows, provided exemplary artistic leadership and direction, and generally lived up to our very high expectations of her skills and abilities. During her sabbatical Halena decided that BOM was in good hands, and she was free to go to graduate school and dream up new amazing things.

Meanwhile, Laura is so dang talented that The Second City hired her to write and perform with them. For the last six months or so Laura has been doing the equivalent of holding two full time jobs, and she’s continued to meet and exceed our artistic hopes and dreams. Sadly though, she can’t continue this balancing act and will be stepping down as Artistic Director at the end of August. While this is sad for me in the office, it may be a delight for you the dedicated monkey fan as we will regain her as a performer in our school shows and the occasional run of TWG.

I can not say enough how much we as an organization owe to Halena and Laura. We could go on for pages about Halena’s dedication and skill in establishing the company, and her tireless efforts to get BOM up and running and ready to be pushed out of the nest. I’m hoping that some of you will take a moment to express your appreciation in the comments to this post.

I was lucky enough to share an office with Halena for two years, and as the first non-ensemble member employee of BOM, I owe a lot to Halena’s strength of vision and clarity of expression in getting me up to speed with the organization’s past, present, and goals for the future. It also goes without saying (at least for those of you who have seen her work) that Halena is an immensely talented theater artist. Her performance and directing work are respected throughout Chicago and her talent level has a lot to do with why BOM has been able to thrive.

It has also been a real joy for me personally to get to work with Laura this year, and I have infinite respect for her prodigious talent and can’t wait to see her back on the monkey stage. It was no easy task for her to have to step into Halena’s shoes, and we learned a lot about the company and the role of the Artistic Director. To Laura’s immense credit, this did not feel like a transition year, and we were able to continue to serve our mission uninterrupted. In addition to the daily responsibilities of managing the company and directing most of the shows, Laura helped focus our goals for the future as we developed a new strategic plan, instituted new policies, and in general maintained the artistic excellence we’ve all come to expect.

Clearly, Laura and Halena will be missed (though, as I said, Laura will remain in Chicago and work with us as her schedule permits). It speaks to the depth of the ensemble that they created, however, that we were able to hire Luke.

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Luke has been with Barrel of Monkeys since shortly after graduating from Northwestern in 2000. In that time he has held almost every possible role in the organization (including performer, director, teacher, finance administrator…) and has always been a dependable, talented, and invested company member.

A graduate of the Steppenwolf School, Luke also has extensive performance and directing experience outside of Barrel of Monkeys. He’s performed with Steppenwolf, The Neo-Futurists, The Hypocrites, The Gift, Lifeline, and with Geva Theatre Center in New York and as an arts educator, Luke has developed and taught curriculum with After School Matters and Adventure Stage Chicago.  He is highly respected by all who have worked with him, and we are hugely confident in his ability to lead BOM into our second decade.

In the coming weeks we will also hire a new part-time Company Manager to replace the incomparable Geoff Rice, whose expanding family and artistic responsibilities mean he will have to stick to “merely” being one of our most dedicated performers and teachers. We will thus begin our second decade with a largely new staff, but with a consistent mission and strong infrastructure for the future, which is a testament to the hard work and skill of the people who founded this company.

We will have a small celebration following the September 1st performance of “That’s Weird, Grandma” in Laura’s honor. Luke’s first day is September 2nd, and I hope you will join me in welcoming him to the staff.

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