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The Memorial for Christen, The Goodman’s Resident Lighting Designer since 1972 who Mentored Generations of Stage Technicians and Up-And-Coming Designers is Open to Chicago Theater Community


Chicago, IL – On May 13, Goodman Theatre celebrates the life and creative contributions of Robert (Bob) Christen, its longtime Resident Lighting Designer and one of the most prolific live performance designers in the country, who passed away last month at age 64. The Chicago-based Christen designed more than 100 productions at the Goodman over four decades, and was the only designer to have worked under three artistic directors—William Woodman, Gregory Mosher and Robert Falls. Among his extensive credits, Christen counts more than 30 premiere productions, including two plays by David Mamet (American Buffalo in 1975 and A Life in the Theatre in 1977); Marvin’s Room by Scott McPherson (also at the Kennedy Center, Playwright’s Horizon, Minetta Lane Theatre and in London’s West End) in 1990 and 1993; Rebecca Gilman’s Spinning Into Butter (1999) and the 1978 original production of A Christmas Carol, and each production since. His final two productions took place earlier this season: Resident Director Chuck Smith’s production of Pullman Porter Blues by Cheryl L. West and A Christmas Carol, directed by Artistic Associate Henry Wishcamper.

The May 13 celebration, held in the Albert Theatre from 4-6pm followed by a reception, is open to all. Call 312.443.3800 for more information. In recognition of Christen’s 42 years at the Goodman, the theater names the Albert Theatre light booth in his honor. Those wishing to individually commemorate Christen can make a gift to the Goodman’s Endowing Excellence Campaign, a major initiative that ensures the Goodman as a place for innovation and mentorship—two principles central to his legacy as a leading lighting designer in his field. To make a gift or for more information, please contact Amber Bel’cher at 312.443.3811 ext. 220 or AmberBelCher@GoodmanTheatre.org.

“Bob Christen was one of the most significant people in the history of the Goodman. In his brilliance as an artist combined with his acumen as a master electrician, he was essential to everything we have achieved over the past four decades.” said Executive Director Roche Schulfer. “His impact on theater, dance and music in Chicago and across the country is immeasurable. Most importantly, Bob was a great friend, tremendous colleague and wonderful person.”

Christen was hired as Stage Electrician on December 8, 1972, and was quickly promoted to Master Electrician the following year. From 1978 – 2014, he was the Goodman’s Resident Lighting Designer/Lighting Supervisor. Christen’s first collaboration with Artistic Director Robert Falls was the 1979 production of Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class, featuring John Malkovich and Glenne Headley, in the Goodman’s studio space. Over the years, he collaborated extensively with current and former members of the Artistic Collective, including the late Michael Maggio, Frank Galati, David Petrarca, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith and Regina Taylor.

His New York credits include The Song of Jacob Zulu (on Broadway, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and at Perth International Arts Festival, Australia); Wings at the Public Theatre; Sin at Second Stage Theatre and Mill Fire at the Women’s Project. Regional credits include designs at Hartford Stage, GeVa Theatre Center, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre and the Music Theater of Wichita. In Chicago, Christen designed lighting for Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Court Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater and Ravinia Festival. Dance lighting credits include new works by Lynne Taylor Corbett; Margo Sappington; Lou Conte at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, for which he designed and toured as lighting supervisor for seven years; Ballet Met in Columbus, Ohio, and lighting direction for the Joffrey Ballet. He also designed Symphony Center’s annual holiday spectacular, Welcome Yule.

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