USITT Names 10 Rising Theatre Artists for 2017 Young Designers & Technicians Awards

USITT Names 10 Rising Theatre Artists for 2017 Young Designers & Technicians Awards

USITT will recognize 10 young technical theatre artists with its 2017 Young Designers & Technicians Awards in the performing arts.

The YD&T Awards bring acclaim and support to early career designers and technicians through generous funding from industry sponsors. The awards will be presented on Thursday, March 9 at 9:30 a.m. at USITT 2017 in St. Louis in a special session featuring Jay Duckworth.

Duckworth is a Proptologist with over 20 years' experience in LORT & Off-Broadway theater, fast paced summer stocks, independent films, TV, music videos and over 50 Off-Broadway shows credit his name as a Props Master and Props Designer.

YD&T winners receive free conference registration to the four-day USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo, March 8-11, plus cash prizes and an impressive addition to their resumes. Listed below are the winners along with comments from their nominators.


Zelma H. Westfield Costume Design & Technology Award:

Marla Parker, Carnegie Mellon University

"Marla has a keen desire to pursue both the design and the making of costumes. She is an artist who has the rare ability to approach her work with equal confidence aesthetically and from a practical, organizational point of view."

The Barbara Matera Award in Costume Making, sponsored by Judy Adamson

Caitlin Yost, Pennsylvania State University

"Cat has very good hands that respond well to the vastly varied fabrics and techniques she is exposed to. She sees proportion extraordinarily well. She is curious and having attained maturity in foundational skills, she now embraces innovation."

USITT W. Oren Parker Undergraduate Scene Design Award

Robert Ashurst, Webster University

"Robbie has had consistently making significant progresses. He has stood out as one of the best scene design students in our program in the recent years. He showed his passion, his drive, and above all, his talent in this profession trough his excellent class projects, as well as his highly praised scene designs for our Conservatory season productions."

USITT Scene Design Award sponsored by Rose Brand

Caitlin Ayer, Carnegie Mellon University

"Caitlin's work is extraordinary, especially given her youth. She is extremely rigorous about getting to a central idea that will support a production. And those ideas are excellent, displaying a strong dramaturgical sense and an inextricable connection to what is going on in the world."

KM Fabrics, Inc. Technical Production Award

Ben Clark, Yale School of Drama

"A person of remarkable intelligence and commitment, Ben has already demonstrated those values, characteristics, and skills that are hallmarks of the profession at its best. First he is an accomplished and meticulous technical director, who leaves no assumption untested, no detail unexplored in weighing familiar techniques against new possibilities."

Bernhard R. Works, Frederick A. Buerki Scenic Technology Award

Michael Hsu, Yale School of Drama

"Through his time here, Michael Hsu has come to seem more colleague than student. Whether in the shop, the theatre, or the classroom, Michael employs a level of dedication, clear-sightedness, inventiveness, and good cheer that would mark him as a standout in any field."

Robert E. Cohen Sound Achievement Award

Keely Wright-Ogren, University of Idaho

"Keely holds herself to a high standard and when it comes to sound design and engineering, she excels in her work at the highest level. She is talented and dedicated to continuing to learn all of the new technology out there while still finding the essence in what is really needed to tell a story on stage."

USITT Lighting Design Award sponsored by Barbizon Lighting Company

Maranda DeBusk, University of Tennessee

"Maranda's lighting design is thoughtful, connected to the play or piece, creative, and thorough. Everyone on the team loves working with her and always comments on her commitment to the overall project. She is very good at seeing the total production."

USITT Stage Management Award sponsored by Clear-Com Communications Systems

Aubrey Sirtautas, Carnegie Mellon University

"I was fortunate enough to have her as my ASM on a production of Seven Guitars in her first semester and I found her a delightful assistant. Although the show was not complicated technically, she was dedicated to making sure the smallest details were complete and consistent. She was warm and generous to the actors and supported their processes fully."

The Master Craftsmanship Award sponsored by Bernhard R. Works

Philip Rheinheimer, Carnegie Mellon University

"Phillip takes the lead on all technical elements of projects he is involved in. He goes beyond the parameters of scale and scope in order to challenge himself and to better facilitate the design."


USITT, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, is a national non-profit association for the live entertainment production industry. It provides hands-on learning, mentorship, and networking opportunities for emerging and working professionals in the backstage arts. Its Annual Conference and Stage Expo is the only complete production event in North America, featuring over 250 training sessions and 280 exhibitors of the latest tools and resources for creating live entertainment. More information is available at usitt.org.


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