For Immediate Release
646 245 8975
The In[HEIR]itance Project Names Zhailon Levingston as Artistic Director
NEW YORK, NY, Sept. 18, 2023 – Zhailon Levingston, who in 2021 became the youngest Black director in Broadway history with the acclaimed play Chicken and Biscuits, and whose work as a theatre maker, storyteller and activist is elevating critical cultural conversations, has been named the new Artistic Director of the In[HEIR]itance Project.
The In[HEIR]itance Project, based in New York, is a national arts nonprofit that builds relationships across generational, racial, ethnic, religious, political and other cultural and societal divides through collaborative playmaking.
“I could not be more honored to step into this position at an organization that I truly believe is leading the way in terms of how the arts can bridge divides in communities all over this nation,” Levingston said.
“The In[HEIR]itance project has also been a second family to me, helping to build my capacity, over the years I've worked with them, to be ready to take on a position of this magnitude. I look forward to expanding our team, practices, and process so that we continue to serve an ever growing desire for real connection and relationship building through the power of devised theatre making.”
Levingston’s appointment launches a new era for the eight-year-old In[HEIR]itance Project, which has employed over 200 artists to engage over 11,000 people in the creation of original theater pieces in 15 cities across the US and around the world.
”Zhailon is a brilliant artist and gifted storyteller who shares our vision and passion for engaging communities to address local challenges through the power of participatory theater,” said Rob Brown, Chair of the In[HEIR]itance Project Board.
“We have known Zhailon as a collaborating artist for many years and are thrilled about the energy and talent he brings into helping us unlock the potential of our organization.”
A Louisiana-raised storyteller, director, and activist, Levingston has developed original work in New York and throughout the country and is a voice in the theatre community advocating for inclusion and equity.
He co-created and serves on the Board of the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, where he helped develop the curriculum of the Theatre of Change course, which he teaches at Columbia University. He has also done work with Idina Menzel’s A Broader Way Foundation, and co-founded the Arts/Advocacy campaign #WordsonWhite.
Besides his groundbreaking direction of Chicken and Biscuits on Broadway, he was the Resident Director for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, the Associate Director of Hadestown in Korea, and Director of Patience at Second Stage Uptown. He is the Associate Director of Primer for a Failed Superpower with Tony Award-winner Rachel Chavkin, and Runaways at The Public Theater with Sam Pinkleton. He will direct the upcoming New York revival of Cats at Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC).
With the In[HEIR]itance Project, Zhailon associate directed a festival of plays at the Theater at the 14th St Y in 2018, co-devised Exodus: Homecoming for the Virginia Arts Festival in Norfolk in 2022, and directed Exodus: Recreation in 2023 as part of the National Civil Rights Museum’s commemoration of the 55th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis.
About the IN[HEIR]ITANCE PROJECT:
The In[HEIR]itance Project, founded in 2015, works with intersectional, interfaith, and intergenerational communities through collaborative theater projects inspired by shared cultural touchstones. It was founded at a national moment of deepening divides between neighbors of different faiths, political viewpoints, generations, and ethnicities — divides that are only increasing.
Its work targets division and isolation where they begin at the local level, intentionally building relationships across schisms to create the personal relationships and community understandings that protect against prejudice and hate.
The In[HEIR]itance Project currently serves 3-4 communities per year, with a current growing waitlist of 29 cities around the United States. The organization is in the midst of a strategic planning process that will allow scaling up in the coming years to serve more communities.
photo by Lelanie Foster for The New York Times