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Lifeline Theatre has announced the appointment of Ilesa Duncan as its new artistic director, taking over for Dorothy Milne in January 2019. Milne is retiring after 19 years in the position, and will continue as a member of the artistic ensemble.
Duncan is a producer, director, writer, educator and theatermaker who has been Pegasus Theatre’s executive artistic director since 2013, and producer of the Young Playwrights Festival since 2006. Her recent directing credits include Lifeline’s “Neverwhere,” “Shakin’ The Mess Outta Misery,” “Rutherford’s Travels,” and “The Green Book,” “Broken Fences” at 16th Street Theater, “The Nativity” with Congo Square; and “Jar the Floor” at ETA Creative Arts. Duncan has also worked with Goodman Theatre, Writers Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Stage Left, and Chicago Dramatists, as well as Contemporary American Theatre Company (Ohio), The Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), Arena Stage (Washington DC), and Lincoln Center Theater (New York). As an educator, Duncan has led youth development and arts education programs in Chicago for over twelve years. She is a past awardee of an NEA/TCG Directing fellowship and a Ragdale’s Fellow with 3Arts. She is member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Lab and the Chicago Director’s Lab, and is an associate artist with Chicago Dramatists, where she previously served as education and community engagement director.
“I’m elated to join Lifeline and work with this incredible board, staff and ensemble,” said Duncan. “I look forward to celebrating the theatre’s amazing history while cultivating future hopes, dreams and journeys.”
Managing Director Allison Cain said that “after working with Ilesa as a guest artist in the past, we are delighted to welcome her to the ensemble and to the artistic director position at Lifeline. Her long-time engagement with new work, her experience with all aspects of theatre administration, her passion for youth programming, and her collaborative spirit all make her a perfect match as we work to ensure that we continue our legacy of artistic excellence and educational and community partnerships in our neighborhood of Rogers Park and the city at large.”
Lifeline is now entering its 36th season.