Meet Derek Charles Livingston

The new Artistic Director will join Stages in August. May 29, 2024


Stages is pleased to announce that Derek Charles Livingston has been named the theater’s new Artistic Director.

Upon relocating to Houston in early August, Livingston will be one of the first Black men to lead a top-tier Houston arts organization, succeeding Kenn McLaughlin, who will retire in June after a 23-year career at Stages. An award-winning actor, director and producer, Livingston holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from Brown University and a master’s degree in film production/direction from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Livingston will leave his current role with the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival, a multi-million dollar production organization, as Director of New Play Development where he has served since 2021. From June 2022 to November 2023, he served as Interim Artistic Director for the organization. During his time with Utah Shakespeare Festival, Livingston introduced a number of productions to the stage including Polar Bears, Black Boys, & Prairie Fringed Orchids and Trouble in Mind Sheldon. 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.

“Throughout my career, I have intentionally sought out works or pursued productions that engage the soul and spark thought-provoking conversations. As the next Artistic Director of Stages, I look forward to building on this philosophy and amplifying the already inspiring legacy of Stages,” said Livingston. “Not only is Stages a powerhouse of artistic expression, it also embraces diverse voices and multiple genres as part of its well-rounded annual seasons. I intend to ensure we continue in this direction to fully engage audiences and maintain theatrical excellence. I plan to continue to bring bold new musicals and plays to Houston while we also continue to activate the magic of Stages legacy traditions such as Always…Patsy Cline, holiday pantos and the wildly popular Late Nite Catechism series. I hope to expand Sin Muros, one of the city’s best celebrations of Latinx culture and strategize on continuing to expand our audience to capitalize on the unique and rich tapestry that is Houston.”

Livingston also served as Managing Artistic Director of Los Angeles’ Celebration Theatre where each season under his four-year tenure was award-winning. Further career highlights include ushering in four new play development programs in San Diego, directing numerous award-winning or nominated acting performances in Los Angeles and San Diego, and boasting multiple awards and nominations himself as a director and actor. In 2022, he was named one of the people changing the face of LA Theatre by LA Weekly. Some of his acting credits include playing Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the one-person show Thurgood, an award-winning turn as Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy for Jean’s Playhouse and a starring role as Detective Tupolski in the College of Southern Nevada’s production of The Pillowman.

Ahead of Livingston’s arrival, McLaughlin said, “I will always be eternally grateful to my Stages family and for the time I spent with this incredible company. Although I will miss everyone dearly, I am ready for a new chapter in life and overjoyed to witness Stages’ next chapter. Derek’s credits are wildly impressive and I have been inspired by his great love of theater. For me, perhaps most importantly of all, Derek is a warm, caring man who brings joy, wit and passion to his engagements. I believe he will connect with Houston audiences in wonderful new ways, and I feel confident that Derek will lead Stages into a bigger, bolder and brighter future as Artistic Director.”