Utah Shakespeare Festival appoints interim artistic director

Derek Charles Livingston has been named interim artistic director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Photo: USF

CEDAR CITY, Utah, June 16, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Shakespeare Festival has named an interim artistic director four days prior to its opening day, Monday.

Derek Charles Livingston has been named as the interim artistic director for the Festival. He will fill that role while a nationwide search is completed to hire a new artistic director to replace Brian Vaughn, who left on May 25.

No details have been released concerning Vaughn’s sudden departure less than a month before the 2022 festival debut, and attempts to reach Vaughn for comment have been unsuccessful. An earlier USF statement said it did not discuss personnel matters.

Livingston has worked at the Festival since March of 2021 when he was hired as director of new play development/artistic associate. He says he is both excited and humbled to step into this new position.

“It was never in my imaginings when I applied to work here, nor when I was hired, nor even a month ago, that I would be asked to step up and serve the Utah Shakespeare Festival as its interim artistic director,” he said in a statement released by the festival. “But having been asked, I accept it with humility and honor.”

Executive producer Frank Mack welcomed Livingston to the position.

“I am eager to see the work he’ll do while the Festival searches for a permanent artistic director,” Mack said.

Livingston credits

Prior to coming to the festival, Livingston was primarily a theater director, producer, and new play developer,” says a biography posted on the the festival site.

He served for over four years as managing artistic director of Los Angeles’s Celebration Theatre (the country’s second oldest, continuously operating LGBT-focused theater).

During that time and after, he produced and/or directed several acclaimed plays and musicals; those productions received over fifty Los Angeles theater awards or nominations (including acknowledgements for Livingston’s directing work on five productions), the festival statement says.

Livingston tater he lived in San Diego where he produced or co-produced a host of new play festivals, “helping give life to over 40 new plays,” it says. For San Diego’s Diversionary Theatre, he directed the award-nominated San Diego premiere of “Tru,” depicting the life of Truman Capote.

In addition to his new duties, he will also be performing in the one-man play “Thurgood,” which opens Sept. 14 at the Festival.

“Any success that happens during this interim tenure will be because of our great staff, so many of whom have given decades — literally decades — to serving this organization and producing great theatre here,” said Livingston.

“I would not agree to serve if I didn’t have utter confidence and faith in them and in their abilities, and I cannot serve without their support, guidance, feedback, and critical observations.”

The 2022 season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival runs from June 20 to Oct. 8, and includes productions of “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “Sweeney Todd,” “King Lear,” “The Sound of Music,” “Trouble in Mind,” “Clue,” “The Tempest,” and “Thurgood,” as well as all the experiences surrounding the plays, such as The Greenshow, seminars, orientations, and Repertory Magic. Tickets and information are available by calling 800-PLAYTIX or going online to bard.org.


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