Oscar- and Tony-winning costume designer Ann Roth and Broadway lighting designer Shirley Prendergast are among the winners of 2014 Distinguished Achievement Awards from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. USITT, the national association for performing arts and entertainment design and technology, annually names Distinguished Achievers who have greatly contributed to the field. USITT will honor the 2014 winners at its Annual Conference & Stage Expo March 26-29 in Fort Worth, an event that draws 5,000 people and over 200 companies from the world of theatrical design and technology.
Besides Roth and Prendergast, the other 2014 USITT Distinguished Achievers are Wicked and Saturday Night Live set designer Eugene Lee, Indiana theatre technology educator Dana Taylor, and University of Texas at Austin production manager Susan Threadgill.
USITT honors Roth for her 50-year career in costume design, which also is the subject of a new monograph, The Designs of Ann Roth, to be released at the Fort Worth Conference. (Her friend, director Mike Nichols, wrote the book's Foreword.)
Roth won the 1997 Best Costume Design Oscar for The English Patient and two Best Costume Design Tonys, for The Book of Mormon (2011) and The Nance (2013). Her ground-breaking work ranges from the films Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Klute (1971) to The Hours (2002), and Julie and Julia (2009). Her friend Meryl Streep called her "the unsung heroine of my career."
Shirley Prendergast is a trailblazer who became the first African-American female admitted to the United Scenic Artists' Lighting Division in 1969 and the first black woman lighting designer for a Broadway show with The River Niger in 1973. She lit the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Paul Robeson on Broadway, the Negro Ensemble Company, the New Federal Theatre, and Crossroads Theatre Company, among others. In 2011 she received a "Viv" (Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO Award for Excellence in Black Theatre) for lighting design of Knock Me a Kiss.
The USITT Distinguished Achievers will receive their awards in special sessions at the Conference and appear together for a panel discussion on Friday morning, March 28.
Besides awards and backstage celebrities, the USITT Conference & Stage Expo offers four days of networking, training, motivation, and hands-on creative opportunities like Sound Lab, an interactive design experience whose 2014 theme involves mixing live music by Fort Worth area bands, and the Rose Brand Action Design Competition, a contest where teams of student designers create a scenic environment using mystery materials in under four hours.
USITT remains the leading provider of year-round education, networking, informationsharing, and resourcing of theatrical products and services for the backstage industry. For more information, please visit www.usitt.org/2014.