Cleveland Play House names new managing director after rocky year
The Cleveland Play House named Rachel Fink as its new managing director Friday. Fink comes from Chicago, where she has served as executive director of Lookingglass Theatre since 2018. Prior to that, she was with companies in Northern California.
“Performing arts organizations feel like they were hit by the pandemic and are still really, really struggling, and I think the next couple years are going to be very telling in terms of how does it feel to reemerge," Fink said.
Fink grew up taking arts classes at the Cleveland Museum of Art and singing in the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus. She attended Cleveland Heights High School, Case Western Reserve University and Yale School of Drama. She begins her second tenure at Cleveland Play House this summer, where she was previously an intern in the 1990s.
The move comes after months of change at the 108-year-old company. Longtime CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley left abruptly last spring and was replaced by Mark Cuddy, who signed-on for a year. He then took on the added role of managing director with the departure of Collette A. Laisure last fall.
Over the past season, two productions were canceled. First, the “Light It Up!” holiday spectacular was canceled at the request of its creative team. Then, “I’m Back Now” had its performance rights pulled by its creator in response to reports of poor management. CPH acknowledged there were “missteps in efforts to respond to a sexual assault” of an actor at housing provided by the company and identified plans for improvement.
Fink said she'll be doing a great deal of listening and assessing the company's work behind-the-scenes since it promised to make internal changes earlier this year.
"There is an opportunity here to build on the foundation of the work that's been started and really imagine, 'What does the Cleveland Play House of the future look like?' That's really our work," Fink said. "I'm trying to be really sensitive to the fact that I haven't lived in Cleveland since I was 21. It's a very different place now, and so I want to make sure I'm not coming in with preconceived notions."
Cleveland Play House has been based at Playhouse Square since 2012. It sold its previous home near the Cleveland Clinic’s Downtown campus in 2009. The building was demolished this year.
New York-based Management Consultants for the Arts has been conducting the search for this position and a new artistic director, who is yet to be named.