Stages Houston hires new artistic director who always knew he was meant to be a Texan

Briana Conner Image
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Stages hires new artistic director to lead Houston arts organization
Derek Charles Livingston, the newly hired artistic director for Stages, will become one of the first Black men to lead the Houston arts organization.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- One of our city's local theaters is preparing to welcome a new artistic director for the first time in almost 25 years.

Derek Charles Livingston will assume the role at Stages in early August and become one of the first Black men to lead a top-tier Houston arts organization.

Livingston told Eyewitness News that he looks forward to becoming a Houstonian, exploring our arts and food scenes, and bringing diverse stories to the stage.

Livingston will leave his current role as director of new play development at the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival, a multi-million dollar production organization, where he has served since 2021.

During its 2023 season, Livingston directed the festival's first production of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun," which was lauded by audiences and critics. As a final farewell to Utah, he will direct the rarely performed "Henry VIII."

SEE ALSO: Latinx theater festival wraps up 7th season in Houston

For this year's festival, committee members hand-selected four plays that explore humanity, heartbreak, the cultural conflicts within the Latinx communities, and acceptance of life-changing news.

In June 2023, current Stages Artistic Director Kenn McLaughlin announced his retirement after having served 25 seasons at the theater, including 18 as artistic director.

Under his tenure, McLaughlin produced over 100 shows at Stages, including nine original "panto" productions, and has personally directed over 30 shows. He brought multiple world and American premieres to the theater, including "The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical," and is particularly proud of directing a production of John Weidman and Stephen Sondheim's "Road Show."

McLaughlin co-led the development of the theater's new home at The Gordy, a $35 million, three-stage complex that opened in January 2020.

Livingston's history encompasses a number of achievements that speak to his ability to unite people which will strengthen his leadership of Stages and the arts in Houston. His documented influence includes a photo in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture and his service as a national co-chair of the 1993 LGBTQ equal rights march on Washington, one of the largest in United States history.

For updates on this story, follow Briana Conner on Facebook, X and Instagram.