Two long-time Utah Shakespearean Festival actors and directors have been named as joint artistic directors at the Tony Award-winning theatre company. David Ivers and Brian Vaughn were introduced at a press conference at the Alta Club in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 5 at 10 a.m.
“This is literally a dream come true,” said Ivers. “Being an artistic director, especially at the Festival, seems like a natural progression in the long history that I have had with the organization. I am extremely passionate about the Festival and highly motivated.”
Both Ivers and Vaughn have worked at the Utah Shakespearean Festival as actors and directors for more than fifteen years. Ivers will come to Utah from the Denver Center Theatre Company in Colorado, where he has spent nine seasons as a resident artist. Vaughn is coming from the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre where he has been a member of the resident acting company since 1997.
“I was elated when I received the call from Scott offering me this position,” said Vaughn. “The call came on April 23, Shakespeare’s birthday, of all days, which is especially noteworthy and beautifully ironic.”
Ivers and Vaughn will take over the artistic leadership of the organization, which has been previously managed by two associate artistic directors, Kathleen F. Conlin, and J.R. Sullivan, in addition to R. Scott Phillips, who will continue to serve as executive director.
“This announcement marks one of the most important steps in the Festival’s future development,” said Phillips. “These new artistic leaders will allow us to move forward as a major regional theatre, while honoring our great legacy.”
The new artistic directors were introduced at the press conference by Phillips as well as Kevin Bischoff, Festival board president, and Michael T. Benson, president of Southern Utah University. In attendance were the families of Ivers and Vaughn, members of the Festival board and staff, and many friends and major donors of the organization.
“I couldn’t be more excited to have these two young men on our campus,” said Benson. “The kinds of experience they bring in the performing arts will help not only the Utah Shakespearean Festival, but also strengthen our already vibrant performing arts programs at SUU.”
In their new roles, Ivers and Vaughn will manage artistic programming, play selection, and casting, as well as assist with fundraising and promotion of the Festival.
Ivers has worked at the Festival as an actor and director for 15 seasons. He has a bachelor of fine arts degree in theatre from Southern Oregon University, and a master of fine arts degree in acting from the University of Minnesota. Ivers has worked at the Oregon, Alabama, and Idaho Shakespeare festivals, as well as the Portland Center Stage, Artists Repertory Theatre, Tacoma Actors Guild, Portland Repertory Theatre, and Seattle Repertory Theatre.
“I am deeply grateful for the support of my family in this endeavor,” said Ivers. “I am passionately committed to the future of the Utah Shakespearean Festival and Southern Utah University.”
Vaughn began working at the Festival in 1991 as an actor in The Greenshow, and has since acted in over 35 roles over 16 seasons. He holds a bachelor’s of science degree in theatre arts and dance from Southern Utah University. Regional credits include American Folk Ballet, Arizona Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, Red Bull Theatre, The Skylight Opera, and Theatre at the Center. He currently serves on the board for the Southern Utah University College of Performing and Visual Arts.
“I am devoted to the Utah Shakespearean Festival’s artistic mission and its continued growth and collaboration with Southern Utah University,” said Vaughn. “I also believe David and I will make a great team, because we possess mutual goals and a shared vision for the Festival’s future.”