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Cynthia Levin. (Photo by Manon Halliburton.)

Cynthia Levin to Retire From Unicorn Theatre

The producing artistic director has been with Unicorn since 1979.

KANSAS CITY: Unicorn Theatre has announced that producing artistic director Cynthia Levin will retire in June. Levin has served in her role since 1983 after coming to Unicorn as an actor, director, and stage manager in 1979.

“Cynthia has spent decades tirelessly advocating for stories to be told onstage that individually and collectively granted our community an artistic vision unlike anywhere else,” Unicorn board president Sally Everhart said in a statement. “Her life-long commitment to Unicorn Theatre has been a gift of amazing, inspiring, and memorable theatre to Kansas City, and we are all better for it.”

Levin has brought more than 60 world premiere productions to Kansas City throughout her tenure. 25 years ago, she became a founding board member of the National New Play Network, and has worked to bring new and diverse stories to Unicorn and the Kansas City theatre community.

“New plays were a difficult sell to Kansas City,” Levin said in a statement about her career. “People must trust that you are bringing something to their attention of value, and which has potential to change hearts and minds. The greatest compliment I ever received was at a Unicorn talkback session for The Exonerated [by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen], a play about people on death row who were found to be innocent. I located three recently exonerated men from Kansas City who I brought on stage with us to discuss their personal experiences about being imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. A woman in the front row raised her hand and said, ‘When I came here today, I believed in the death penalty. Now, I am not so sure.’ This potential for theatre to change the world is why I do what I do.”

In 2007, Levin was awarded the Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign. In 2018, she was awarded the Kathryn V. Lamkey Award from Actors’ Equity Association. She has also received a GLAAD Leadership Award and was named a local hero by Ingram’s Magazine. In 2014, Unicorn named their mainstage theatre the Levin Stage in honor of her contributions to the organization. Levin is a graduate of Park University.

“My hope is that Unicorn Theatre will continue to embrace the importance of this exciting challenge in the future,” Levin said. “I have no doubt that with the right leadership, it will grow along with the ever-expanding needs of the community.”

Unicorn’s board of directors has partnered with Management Consultants for the Arts to conduct a national search for a new producing artistic director.

Unicorn Theatre seeks to enhance the Kansas City community by developing and producing high-quality, thought-provoking plays that have never before been seen in the region. Unicorn creates opportunities for the advancement of emerging and established actors, directors, playwrights, designers, and staff and is a founding member of the National New Play Network. As of 2022, the theatre had a budget of approximately $1 million.

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