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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
Tsypin Named USITT
2008 Golden Pen Winner

Martha Marking
Co-chair, USITT Golden Pen Committee

USITT's 2008 Golden Pen award will be presented to George Tsypin, set designer and author of George Tsypin Opera Factory: Building in the Black Void (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005). Julie Taymor and Grigory Revzin provided supplemental text.

The USITT Publication Committee's Golden Pen Subcommittee reviewed eight excellent nominations for the 2008 award. The award is determined by a poll of the members of the Publications Committee and was ratified by the Board of Directors in October.

The Golden Pen Award is given annually to the author of an outstanding publication, written within the previous three -year period, in the field of design and production for the performing arts. This award has been presented annually since 1986. The criteria specifies that the work recognized is an outstanding example of one or more of the following: scholarly research and critical thinking, presentation of the work and methodology of exceptional practitioners for theatrical arts and crafts, and description of the methods, skills and technology involved in creating works of theatre and crafts.

George Tsypin Opera Factory: Building in the Black Void is a stunning representation of Mr. Tsypin's scenic designs for some of the most renowned opera houses in the world. The nominator's comments on the book were: "A truly exciting book on Tsypin's innovative designs as well as a view into the world of opera from a design perspective as defined by this noteworthy artist. The images are lush and compelling and invite the reader to learn more and participate in these worlds."

A member of the committee stated the book is "simply breath-taking! Whether you have designed one opera or one play, or 100 operas and 100 plays, you will find inspiration on every page. The West Side Story images will be a continual reminder of September 11 and are scarily reminiscent of the ruins of the World Trade Center. Bravo!" It is even more eerie that the model for those images was presented six months before the September 11, 2001 events. Another committee member found "this book to be exciting and beautiful -- something I enjoy reading, paging through, and referencing."

Mr. Tsypin transforms theatrical spaces into magical environments. The book is divided into sections representing the elements: water, air, earth, and fire. In addition to the West Side Story production, there are breathtaking images of Oedipus Rex, Boris Godunov, Pelleas et Melisande, and Fiery Angel.

Mr. Tsypin is Russian born and began life as an architect, which he claims is a "main impulse" in his work. He studied at the Moscow Institute of Architecture with some of Russia's most well known avant-garde artists who were teaching sculpture. Mr. Tsypin writes in the prelude to the book that "this book is about the alchemy of making an opera as the most synthetic form of spectacle from the point of view of the visual artist. While the musicians have the score, the artist has to start from scratch -- every time. From the blackness of the Void, the universe is created."

Mr. Tsypin has been invited to the USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Houston March 19 to 22, where a book signing is scheduled. A Conference session also will be held 10 a.m. on Friday, March 21 to discuss this book and Mr. Tsypin's work. Martha Marking and Michael Monsos, co-chairs of USITT's Golden Pen selection sub-committee, will moderate.

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George Tsypin Opera Factory: Building in the Black Void has been named the USITT 2008 Golden Pen Award winner. It will be the subject of a session as part of the Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Houston in March and be available in the USITT Boutique.