One of the artistic directors of the Utah Shakespeare Festival is leaving for a new gig.
David Ivers, who has been co-artistic director with Brian Vaughn at the Cedar City festival since 2011, will leave later in May to be artistic director at another — and, for now, unnamed — regional theater company.
Vaughn will take over as sole artistic director.
Ivers started at the festival as an intern in 1992 and has worked as an actor and director. During his tenure, he had life-changing experiences.
"I met my wife here; I have a son that was born here," Ivers said Wednesday. "But it's also time to spread my wings a little bit."
In a statement, Fred C. Adams, the festival's founder, called Ivers "a much-loved talent" and said that under Ivers and Vaughn, "the festival has accomplished remarkable things."
Ivers said working alongside Vaughn for the past six years "has been perhaps one of the most synchronistic and joyful working experiences." He called Vaughn "not only a colleague but a profound personal friend. It's amazing that our friendship has weathered that close working relationship, but it has."
The two occasionally disagreed, but "mostly the disagreements have been little ones. They've been things like, 'Should we do this show in this slot or in that slot? Should it be summer or fall?' Rarely has it been, 'We shouldn't do that show at all.' "
Ivers' last day with the festival will be May 16. He will return this summer to direct the world premiere of "How to Fight Loneliness," a new work by playwright and filmmaker Neil LaBute.
LaBute's new play is "a deeply personal and relevant, and muscular, play that's both poignant and funny," Ivers said. The three-character play, which LaBute workshopped in Cedar City last year, will debut Aug. 25 in the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre.
"The fact that [LaBute's] words are going to be spoken on the stage for the first time in rural southern Utah is astonishing," Ivers said.
Looking back at his time as co-artistic director, Ivers noted that he and Vaughn extended the festival's run, bridging the 17-week summer season and eight-week fall season. This allowed the festival to offer contracts to its union actors that included a full year of health benefits, he said. The festival was also able to move staff members from part-time to full-time status, which meant they could receive health, retirement and vacation benefits.
Mostly, Ivers said of his time with the festival, "I'm extraordinarily proud of the quality of the work on our stages."
The festival's 56th season runs June 29 to Oct. 21 at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. Along with the new LaBute play, the season includes "Romeo and Juliet," "As You Like It," "Shakespeare in Love," "Guys and Dolls," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Treasure Island," "The Tavern" and "William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged)."