Court Theatre names new Executive Director
The University of Chicago News Office
July 6, 2005 Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
(773) 702-6421

Court Theatre names new Executive Director

    Additional contact:
Bill Massolia, Court Theatre
(773) 702-7242


[click to enlarge]

Dawn Helsing

Court Theatre Board of Directors Chair Lorna Ferguson, University of Chicago, Vice President of Community and Government Affairs Henry S. Webber and Artistic Director Charles Newell are pleased to announce the appointment of Dawn Helsing to the position of Executive Director.

Ms. Helsing, 40, is currently the Director of Development of CENTERSTAGE the leading professional producing theater company in Baltimore, Maryland and pioneer in America's regional theater movement. She was chosen after an eight-month national search led by Albert Hall & Associates, based in Del Mar, California. Court Theatre's national search committee was chaired by board member Larry Strickling, and included Webber, Ferguson and Newell along with other members of the board.

As Director of Development of CENTERSTAGE, Helsing was instrumental in directing the theatre's annual fund growth for four seasons by expanding it to $2.5 million across all areas of giving. In addition, she helped launch a $5 million capital and endowment campaign. "Dawn brings a national profile and experience to Court Theatre. Every previous institution where she's been has seen significant growth in resources for the art. This is what Court needs most now. Additionally, I am personally thrilled to welcome her as co-leader of Court Theatre. Together, this theatre's future looks fantastically bright," said an excited Charles Newell on Ms. Helsing's appointment.

Court's Board Chair, Lorna Ferguson added, "Out of our recently completed Strategic Planning process, Court Theatre's Board of Directors, together with The University of Chicago, created a profile for our new Executive Director. Dawn Helsing matched perfectly this profile with her experience in relationship-building and fund-raising, and her interest in University relations. Through the search process, we learned that Dawn is regarded by significant figures in the non-profit world as one of the most promising theatre administrators of her generation. The Board of Directors is tremendously excited about the future of Court Theatre, especially now that we have such a conspicuously talented new leader to join Charlie."

Helsing also served as Associate Managing Director for Yale Repertory Theatre where she also earned her Master of Fine Arts degree. In addition, she has held the positions of Managing Director of Ensemble Company for the Performing Arts in New Haven, CT, Telemarketing Manager for CENTERSTAGE, and Communications and Special Events Associate with Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Ms Helsing also holds a B.A. in English from Grinnell College.

"I am thrilled to join Court Theatre and to collaborate with an extraordinary artist like Charlie Newell," said Dawn of her new position. She added, "to be a part of a vibrant University community and Chicago's remarkably rich theatre scene is a dream come true. I look forward to helping advance Court's tradition of imaginative, powerful, and timeless theatre that explores the questions and possibilities at the core of what it means to be human."

Ms. Helsing will replace former Executive Director Diane Claussen, who left to become Managing Director at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. Court Theatre retained the services of Albert Hall & Associates to perform the executive search for the fifty-one year old organization. Albert Hall & Associates has led the national searches for several of the country's leading regional theatres including, Actors' Theater of Louisville, the Goodman Theatre, New York's Public Theatre and Seattle Repertory Theatre, among many others.

Court Theatre, celebrating it's 51st season, the professional theatre at the University of Chicago, is located at 5535 S. Ellis Ave. in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. Five, four and three play subscriptions to Court's 2005/2006 season are on sale now ranging from $69 to $250. To purchase a subscription or receive more information, call the Court Theatre Box Office, (773) 753-4472, or visit Court's website at

Court Theatre is partially supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; by a CityArts Program IV grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs; and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.
Last modified at 03:52 PM CST on Thursday, July 07, 2005.

University of Chicago News Office
5801 South Ellis Avenue - Room 200
Chicago, Illinois 60637-1473
(773) 702-8360
Fax: (773) 702-8324
Contact Us