The Utah Shakespearean Festival announced its choice of a new artistic director today, and the biggest news was that they didn't pick just one.---
David Ivers and Brian Vaughn, both named as co-artistic directors, are no strangers to regular visitors to the summertime Cedar City fest dedicated to The Bard. Ivers has been involved with the Utah Shakespearean Festival for more than 15 years, as an actor, director and educator. And Vaughn is one of the company's most familiar faces, not to mention an alum of Southern Utah University's theater, arts and dance department.
Festival Executive Director R. Scott Phillips call the announcement of the dynamic duo a key to "entering a new era of enlightenment, encouragement and artistic programming," noting that USF did not want to "upset the apple cart" when it went searching for a new artistic director. In Ivers and Vaughn, Phillips noted, the "new" hire already has a combined 35 years experience with the organization.
This is a vital time for USF. Next year marks its 50th anniversary, and they are trying to complete fundraising for a new outdoor theater. Ivers said a new "artistic initiative fund" has already been started, with a goal of helping bring top-quality artists to Cedar City to work at the festival, as well as getting the word out nationally about the festival in the small rural town in southwestern Utah.
"This is a long, long dream come true," Ivers said, noting that he is fully "aware of the responsibility that comes with the job," and that he takes maintaining Fred Adams' original vision of the festival very seriously.
Vaughn seconded that emotion at the announcement of his and Ivers' hiring Wednesday morning at Salt Lake City's Alta Club.
"I love this theater. I love the city it resides in," Vaughn said, recalling that from the first time he visited USF, as a Phoenix high school student, he wanted to play Hamlet on its outdoor stage. Now he'll have a role in making those kinds of dreams come true for other actors for years to come.
"The next stage of the Utah Shakespearean Festival is now," Vaughn said.