PerformInk is Chicago's entertainment industry trade publication.
Pictured: Kirsten Riiber and Kurt Chiang
The Neo-Futurist Theater has announced that Artistic Director Kurt Chiang will step down to make way for new leadership in early 2020. Neo-Futurist Ensemble Member Kirsten Riiber will succeed Chiang as Artistic Director, with Chiang continuing his role as an ensemble member.
“It’s been fun, fulfilling, and never-ordinary to serve as Artistic Director of The Neo-Futurists,” said Chiang. “I’m proud of the staff and ensemble for weathering some pretty substantial storms over the last 3-5 years, including branding and naming changes, and the ever-present cloud this presidency has cast over our cultural landscape. My first experience of Neo-Futurism in 2005 was that of a fan, and I’ve tried to deliver that particular feeling here to our dedicated and growing audiences in my work as an artist and leader. I know Kirsten shares that mentality, and I look forward to how she leads the ensemble and takes the work to a new and exciting future.”
Chiang originally joined the company in 2008 as an ensemble member. In 2014, he joined Bilal Dardai as Co-Artistic Director before being appointed as the company’s first full-time Artistic Director in 2015. A year later, Chiang saw the organization through a period of uncertainty as the company lost the license to its weekly flagship show, ultimately pressing forward to create “The Infinite Wrench.”
“Kurt is an incredible artist and friend and to be called his counterpart at the company has completely shifted my perspective as he is an exemplary leader and his effect is truly lasting,” said Jorge Silva, Neo-Futurist Managing Director. “As ‘The Infinite Wrench’ continues to mature and our identity as an organization evolve, new leadership is only natural, if not healthy. I am inspired by Kirsten’s vision and am ecstatic to create the next chapter of Chicago’s home for radical, experimental theater alongside them.”
Riiber has been an ensemble member since 2012 and is the creator behind “Tangles & Plaques,” a show centered on the nature of memory loss.
“Kurt carries the Neo-Futurist aesthetic everywhere he goes. It is undeniable that he lives and breathes this work, and his dedication to the company has and continues to inspire me as a fan, student and collaborator,” said Riiber. “The Neo-Futurists has always been a space for outliers; folks who want more from conventional theater, who crave immediacy and honest connection, and who might not feel seen or represented elsewhere. 2020 is going to be an excellent year with fresh faces in the ensemble, new class offerings, exciting improvements to the space, and increasingly vulnerable, challenging, visceral, hilarious and unforgettable performance art coming at you every single weekend, all year long.”