Russ Tutterow nurtured the art and careers of countless playwrights at Chicago Dramatists. He was named Artistic Director of Chicago Dramatists in 1986 and held the position for nearly 30 years. Due to health reasons, Tutterow became the Emeritus Artistic Director in 2015. On May 4, 2015, Chicago Dramatists, and the world, lost Russ Tutterow to cancer.
Russ was the recipient of the 2005 League of Chicago Theatres Artistic Leadership Award for his “outstanding achievement in developing new plays and his long time contribution to Chicago theatre,” the 2007 Achievement in Theatre Award from the Illinois Theatre Association, and the 2010 Actors' Equity Spirit Award for his commitment to non-traditional casting and diversity. At Chicago Dramatists, he has directed countless new play readings, and nurtured the art and careers of hundreds of playwrights, including Rebecca Gilman, Tina Fey, Sarah Ruhl, Keith Huff, Lydia R. Diamond, Tanya Saracho, Brett Neveu, Rick Cleveland, David Barr, and Roger Rueff, to name just a few. He directed Chicago Dramatists’ world premiere productions of, A Steady Rain by Keith Huff (which was subsequently produced on Broadway, starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman), Blizzard ’67 by Jon Steinhagen, Hickorydickory by Marisa Wegrzyn, Water by Alice Austen (Jeff Award nomination for New Work), Voyeurs de Venus by Lydia R. Diamond (Jeff Award for New Work), Heat by Marsha Estell (Jeff Award nomination for New Work), and Drawing War by Brett Neveu.
Russ also directed, managed or taught for such Chicago theatres as Goodman, Victory Gardens, Royal George, Mercury, Briar Street, Prop, Zebra Crossing, Igloo, and Cullen, Henaghan & Platt Productions, as well as Café LaMama Hollywood, and served on the 2005 First Look Council at Steppenwolf Theatre. Tutterow held positions as Adjunct Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Wisconsin and Director of Theatre at Lake Forest College. He earned an M.A. in Theatre from Northwestern University and a B.A. in Theatre from Ball State University.
He is missed dearly. A wonderful tribute to Russ Tutterow, written by Resident Playwright Alumna Lydia R.Diamond, ran in American Theatre magazine following his passing.