“On behalf of the City of Chicago, I congratulate Roche Schulfer on four decades of leadership of Goodman Theatre,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“Roche’s efforts at the Goodman have helped Chicago earn our reputation as a global destination for theater, and his visionary leadership has transformed the Goodman and introduced theater to thousands across our City. I congratulate Roche on this milestone achievement.”
Lifelong Chicagoan Roche Edward Schulfer’s 40 years of distinguished service to Goodman Theatre—a rarely exceeded tenure at a single American theater—will be celebrated with a star on the “Walkway of Stars” beneath the iconic Goodman marquee on September 4, and at the Season Opening Celebration on September 24.
One of the most respected theater producers in the country, Roche has been central to the Goodman’s emergence as a major cultural institution
and leading US theater.
He began his theater career in the Goodman’s box office in 1973, and quickly rose through the ranks; he currently serves as Goodman Theatre’s Executive Director (a position he has held since 1980) and, with Artistic Director Robert Falls, shares a 27-year producing partnership—one of the longest in the industry. Roche has overseen the production of close to 350 plays (including 125 world or American premieres), has negotiated the presentation of Goodman productions at national and international venues and established Charles Dickens’ classic tale A Christmas Carol as an annual Chicago holiday tradition (marking its 36th production this season). During their leadership, the Goodman has received numerous awards and accolades for excellence, including the Pulitzer Prize for Ruined by Lynn Nottage (2009); “Best Regional Theater in the United States” by Time magazine (2003); the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater (1992); and numerous Joseph Jefferson awards for outstanding achievement in Chicago-area theater.
Following his graduation from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Economics, Roche was hired on September 4, 1973 as a Box Office Attendant at Goodman Theatre under then-Artistic Director William Woodman (at the Goodman’s previous 200 S. Columbus Drive location). He was promoted to Assistant to the Managing Director in 1974 (under Managing Director John Economos); General Manager in 1977 (working with Managing Director Janet Wade) and was named Managing Director in 1980, working with then-Artistic Director Gregory Mosher. From 1974 to 1983, Schulfer produced the works in Goodman Stage 2, which became a force in the growth of Chicago theater through premieres of David Mamet’s American Buffalo, A Life in the Theatre, Edmond and Glengarry Glen Ross. He also worked with Mosher to make Goodman productions more representative of the diverse Chicago community through new programming, casting and marketing strategies. In addition, in 1976, he founded the off-Loop Producers Association—the predecessor of the League of Chicago Theatres. He coordinated the development of the $46 million new Goodman Theatre complex from 1998 - 2000, which served as a catalyst for Chicago’s Theater District.
Roche is a longtime adjunct professor at DePaul University, helping to nurture the next generation of theater professionals. He is married to the distinguished actor Mary Beth Fisher.