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Nine Young Theatrical Designers Win 2013 USITT Awards

Nine Young Theatrical Designers Win 2013 USITT Awards

Ethan Vail DesignNine up-and-coming entertainment designers from colleges around the nation will receive USITT Awards for Young Designers & Technicians in the Performing Arts, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology announced this week.

The awards will be presented at USITT’s 2013 Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Milwaukee March 20-23, an event that draws over 5,000 people.

The YD&T awards are held annually by USITT, the national association for theatre design and technology professionals. Nine awards sponsored by industry leaders honor young designers in the areas of production, sound, lighting, costumes, makeup, stage management, set design and scenic technology.

Winners are nominated by USITT members and chosen by a panel of experts in their field. Look for these names in the credits of future stellar productions!

The 2013 winners are:

Cole W. Muth, University of Wisconsin – Madison, wins the KM Fabrics Inc. Technical Production Award honoring excellence in technical direction or production. Muth is a technical director, lighting designer and 2012 MFA grad of UW-M. Daniel Lisowski , UW-M faculty technical director, nominated him for the award, which was established by KM Fabrics founder Richard K. Heusel in 1994.

Daniel Perez, Yale University School of Drama, wins the Frederick A. Buerki Golden Hammer Award. He is a technical director at Yale Repertory Theatre who will attain his MFA this May. He was nominated by Prof. Ben Sammler of Yale. The Golden Hammer award was established in 1998 by Bernhard R. Works in memory of University of Wisconsin theatre technician Fred Buerki.

Erik T. Lawson, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, wins the Robert E. Cohen Sound Achievement Award. Lawson, who graduated last May with an MFA in sound design, was nominated by CMU Prof. Joseph Pino. The award was established by Clear-Com founder Robert Cohen in 2005 to reward creative application of sound in performing arts.

Albulena Borovci, also of CMU, wins the Zelma H. Weisfeld Costume Design & Technology Award. She was nominated by Susan Tsu, CMU Professor of Costume Design. Borovci, a native of Kosovo, will receive her Master’s in costume design from CMU in May. She was among 16 nominees for this award, established in 1997 by costume designer Zelma Weisfeld.

Ethan Vail, a senior at Purdue University, will receive the USITT Lighting Design Award sponsored by Barbizon Lighting Company. Vail, already an accomplished lighting designer, was nominated by Michael McNamara, head of lighting at Purdue. The award was established in 1997 to honor Barbizon co-founders Sid Bloom and Sam Resnick. It recognizes outstanding potential in the field of lighting design.

Courtney O’Neill, Northwestern University, wins the USITT Scene Design Award sponsored by Rose Brand. She was nominated by Todd Rosenthal, a Tony-award winning scenic designer and professor at Northwestern, where she received her MFA last year. She was chosen from among 13 nominees for the award, established in 1997 by Rose Brand president George Jacobstein to reward excellence in scenic design.

Jared LeClaire, University of West Georgia, wins the USITT W. Oren Parker Undergraduate Scene Design Award sponsored by Stage Decoration & Supplies. LeClaire is a scenic and projection designer who will graduate from UWG in May. He was nominated by Brad Darvas, theatrical design professor at UWG. The award, established in 2002 in memory of scene and lighting designer W. Oren Parker.

Lauren Wilde, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, wins the USITT Makeup Design Award sponsored by Kryolan Professional Makeup. She will receive her Master’s from UNCSA in May. Michael Meyer, Wig & Makeup Director at UNCSA, nominated her for the award established in 1998 for creative makeup design.

Peyton Taylor Becker, also an MFA student at UNCSA, will receive the USITT Stage Management Award sponsored by Clear-Com. She was nominated by Jamie Call Blankinship, UNCSA stage management professor. The award honors work displaying excellent stage management skills.

A total of 60 students were nominated for the 2013 YD&T awards: all submitted resumes, letters of recommendation, and a portfolio of their work to a panel of experts in the specific area of the award.

They will be honored in a special multi-media event on opening night of USITT’s 53rd Annual Conference & Stage Expo to be held this March at Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Delta Center. Each winner will receive a cash prize of up to $1,000 and free registration for the Conference, which offers more than 200 workshops, meetings and networking events for theatrical designers and technicians.

USITT, the association for backstage professionals, serves nearly 4,000 members worldwide. For more information, visit

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