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Shakespearean fest names new executive director

R. Scott Phillips is replacing Fred C. Adams, who founded festival in 1962

R. Scott Phillips
R. Scott Phillips

R. Scott Phillips has been named the Utah Shakespearean Festival's executive director, replacing founder Fred C. Adams, who retired in 2005 after leading the Cedar City-based festival for 44 years.

Phillips has been serving as interim director since Adams' retirement. He previously worked in other leadership positions during his 28 years with the festival and was the first full-time employee to be hired during the event's early years.

"I am not going to abandon the legacy of the festival," Phillips said by phone from Akron, Ohio, where he and Adams were attending a conference of the Institute of Outdoor Dramas. "We need to move forward and finish the dream Fred started and stabilize the festival for the next 50 years.

"Technology has changed and audiences have changed, and we need to keep those audiences coming."

Plans have been in the works for several years to expand the festival by constructing a 2 1/2 block-size complex. The original outdoor Adams Memorial Theatre, which was designed to be dismantled, would be moved from its present site at Southern Utah University to property east of the campus. There are also long-range plans for an intimate venue to showcase new works developed by up-and-coming playwrights.

Phillips first became involved with the festival in 1974, when he was a junior at what was then Southern Utah State College. He did public-relations work for the festival during the summers.

"I made $300 for the summer and they gave me a place to live, and I thought that was terrific," he said.

In 1977, Phillips became the festival's first full-time employee. He has served as managing director for 15 years and was marketing director for 13 years prior to that.

In addition to his service with the festival, Phillips has taught at SUU, been involved with several arts organizations nationwide, directed stage productions across the country and been a consultant for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Founded by Adams in 1962, the Utah Shakespearean Festival is one of the oldest and largest such festivals in North America, running six plays in repertory each summer and another three during the fall.