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Stuart Carden Named New Artistic Director of KCRep


Scott Hall, Chair of the Board of Directors of Kansas City Repertory Theatre (KCRep); and Barbara Bichelmeyer, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC); announce that Stuart Carden has been selected as the next Artistic Director of KCRep after a comprehensive, nationwide search.

Stuart will be the fifth Artistic Director in the company's history, and joins Angela Lee Gieras, Executive Director of KCRep, as co-leader of the region's flagship theatre and professional theatre in residence at UMKC.

Stuart is a director, producer and educator who has worked throughout the United States creating vibrant performance experiences ranging from classic literary adaptations to intercultural drama to lo-fi/hi-imagination spectacle. He has a particular passion for creating cross-disciplinary performance and original concert-theatre hybrids that feature bands and music-making at the heart of the theatrical experience.

As the Associate Artistic Director of Writers Theatre in Chicago, Stuart partnered on five seasons in which he co-produced over 25 productions, advanced Writers' new play development program, created multiple audience engagement and enrichment programs and was intimately involved in the design of the theatre's $32 million Jeanne Gang-designed theatre complex. Prior to Writers, Stuart spent two years in Pittsburgh as Associate Artistic Director of the new play theatre, City Theatre Company.

As a director, Stuart has developed and directed plays for many of America's leading theatres including The Old Globe, The Lyric Opera, The Second City, The Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, New Victory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Silk Road Rising, Victory Gardens, People's Light, Northlight Theatre, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, ArtsEmerson, The Wallis, Philadelphia Theatre Company, and Chicago Children's Theatre.

With a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusivity (EDI), Stuart has created and advocated for inclusive practices as a freelance director and created institutional initiatives and programs that make space and provide opportunities for underrepresented artists. His commitment to EDI in the American theatre is grounded in the belief that all voices deserve to be heard, lifted, and illuminated while audiences deserve to see themselves reflected on the stage.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Stuart is a committed teacher and mentor, often teaching and lecturing at institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University, DePaul University, and Loyola University, among others. Stuart holds a B.A. in Theatre from Hanover College and an M.F.A. in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University. He is a member of the Society for Stage Directors and Choreographers and represented by Beth Blickers and the Agency for Performing Arts. Stuart is married to contemporary and public art curator Neysa Page-Lieberman and dad to seven-year-old twins.

"Kansas City's best days are ahead with the addition of this inspiring arts leader to our beloved community," said Hall, who serves as Senior Vice President, Civic and Community Initiatives at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, and the chair of the KCRep Board. "Stuart reiterated throughout the interview process that listening to our audiences and telling Kansas City stories are a priority. We're impressed with Stuart's significant artistic and leadership experience in theatres like ours across the country, and we feel triumphant that we have been able to bring Stuart to Kansas City to build on the success of our thriving hometown," added Hall.

Scott Boswell represented KCRep's Board of Directors and Steve Doyal represented UMKC as co-chairs of the competitive search process, facilitated by a search committee made up of members from KCRep's Board of Directors, UMKC Conservatory and Department of Theatre faculty, and members of the Kansas City artistic community. The national search attracted a long list of inspiring and diverse candidates from across the American professional theatre industry.

Bichelmeyer offered her gratitude to Interim Artistic Director Jason Chanos, who advanced the artistic work of the company over the past year during the national search. The 2019-2020 season will commence in September with a selection of beloved classics and groundbreaking new titles curated by Chanos. "The coming season will be a testament to Jason's talent and his commitment to KCRep and this community. I look forward to his continuing influence on collaborations between UMKC and the Rep," Bichelmeyer said.

Bichelmeyer said UMKC is eager to build on its reputation as the arts campus within the University of Missouri System. She predicted "dynamic innovation in KC's performing arts community in coming years, driven by the combination of new artistic leadership at KCRep, the merger of UMKC's nationally recognized Department of Theatre with the university's renowned Conservatory, and the upcoming construction of a new Conservatory building adjacent to KCRep's home in the Olson Performing Arts Center."

"With Stuart's leadership, we have the opportunity to deepen the connection with our professional theatre in residence and to create valuable relationships between professionals in the field and our students, who will go on to be the next generation of artistic leaders in Kansas City and around the world," Bichelmeyer said. "KCRep will be a vital partner as we create dynamic energy around our new Conservatory building, which will bring together artists and audiences to celebrate the best our arts community has to offer."

"Stuart painted a captivating and inclusive image of the future of KCRep. I am thrilled to partner with a creative and generous leader whose approach to people, EDI, and artistic excellence closely aligns with KCRep's vision and values," commented Angela Gieras. "KCRep selected a leader who will affirm our organization as one of the leading voices of Kansas City's thriving arts community, as well as the American theatre as a whole."

"My wife Neysa and I are thrilled to bring our family to Kansas City and join the thriving cultural communities at UMKC and in the Kansas City region," said Carden, "and our twins can't wait to mix it up on KC soccer fields. As the new artistic leader of KCRep, I look forward to meeting the people and communities that make Kansas City what it is and learning of their interests, curiosities, passions, and hopes for the future. It is my belief that it is the responsibility and privilege of a regional theatre like KCRep to amplify and celebrate the people, history, and culture of the region it serves. I am ready to take a deep dive into all things Kansas City and translate those conversations into theatrically adventurous programming that illuminates the diversity of perspectives, interests, and people that make Kansas City such a vibrant community."

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