January 2013

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January 2013

News & Notices

Distinguished Achievement Awards in Costume Design & Technology and Scene Design

Richard Donnelly Scene Design Commission

The School for Wives

Desmond Heeley will be honored with the USITT Distinguished Achievement Award in both Costume Design & Technology and Scene Design, the first time the Institute has given both awards to one designer The award will be presented 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 22 at the Milwaukee 2013 Conference & Stage Expo. Following the ceremony, Mr. Heeley will be honored at a reception hosted by both Commissions.

Although this double award is a first for USITT, it is not so for Mr. Heeley. In 1968, for the Broadway production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, he won two Tony Awards for costume designer and scenic designer, the first time in the history of the Tony Awards that the two awards have been given to one designer for the same show. This is a record he holds to this day.

The celebration of the awards will begin with a presentation of Mr. Heeley's costume and scenic designs titled, "Desmond Heeley: From Toad to Tony." The session will be chaired by Richard E. Donnelly from the University of Notre Dame. A 2010 recipient of a USITT Fellowship, Mr. Donnelly has spent the past eight years researching Mr. Heeley's design work in numerous archives in Canada, the United States, and England.

Mr. Heeley began his design career in 1948 at 17 at The Stratford Memorial Theatre (now the Royal Shakespeare Company) in Stratford-upon-Avon, England for the Christmas production of Toad of Toad Hall. He then served as the costume design assistant to stage director Peter Brook for Titus Andronicus starring the husband and wife acting team of Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh. In 1956, Mr. Heeley designed the costumes for the Stratford-upon-Avon production of Hamlet. He quickly rose to fame and recognition as the brightest and most promising designer in England. Immediately following Hamlet, he was brought to London to design the sets and costumes for the Sadler's Well ballet Solitaire. Within a year, he was hired by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada to design the costumes and scenery for Hamlet, the inaugural production in the Festival Theatre.

The Taming of the Shrew

In a career spanning more than 64 years, Mr. Heeley has designed costumes, scenery, and properties for opera, ballet, and theatre companies on four continents. In 1997, Mr. Heeley received the USITT Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011, Mr. Heeley received his third Tony Award for the costume design for The Importance of Being Earnest on Broadway, the final show of his illustrious career. Desmond Heeley: From Toad to Tony will give USITT members the rare opportunity to see some of the earliest of Mr. Heeley’s costume and scenic designs as well as the transformation of his distinctive rendering style.

USITT members will be able to view many of Mr. Heeley’s original renderings in a gallery display at Stage Expo. A selection of his costume and scenic designs from the University of Notre Dame Collection as well as examples from his personal portfolio will be available for members to admire and view close up.