#20 Beverly Emmons

You’ll need two hands to count the number of Tony noms this week’s guest has garnered, it’s Beverly Emmons! Cory and Beverly cover her vast and varied career and her collaborations with such luminaries as Martha Graham, Jules Fisher, Merce Cunningham and Kenny Leone. She recounts becoming an LD by way of dance school, her longstanding relationship with USA 829 and her involvement in the union exam, how the idea for The Lighting Archive came about, and what is was like following in the footsteps of Jean Rosenthal, Peggy Clark, and Tharon Musser. She also shares her thoughts on lighting research, hand drafting, pre-visualation tools, balancing work and family and a whole host of other topics. And hear her describe an incredibly bizarre and fascinating design process proposed by Robert Rauschenberg for a dance by Merce Cunningham in which she created a randomized cue structure out of mostly existing worklights, hall lights, grid lights and flashlights that could never be the same from performance to performance. Pretty soon you’ll be yelling to turn the worklights ON!

Beverly Emmons has designed for Broadway, Off-B’way, Regional Theater, Dance and Opera. Her Broadway credits include Stick FlyAnnie Get Your Gun, Jekyll & Hyde, The Heiress, Stephen Sondheim’s PassionThe Elephant Man, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Stepping Out, Doonesbury, Is There Life After High School?, Little Me, Piaf, and many others. Her Off-Broadway credits include The Vagina Monologues, Hapgood, Lucky Stiff, True West and What of the Night, and shows with Joseph Chaikin and Meredith Monk. For Robert Wilson; Einstein on the Beach and others. She has worked at the Kennedy Center, the Guthrie, Arena Stage, and The Alley Theatre.  Her designs for dance include works by Martha Graham, Trisha Brown, Alvin Ailey and Merce Cunningham.

She has been nominated for the Tony award 6 times and her lighting of Amadeus won the Tony award in 1981. She is the recipient of the 1984 and 1986 Bessie Award, a 1980 Obie for Distinguished Lighting, and several Maharam/American Theater Wing Design Awards. She has curated TheLightingArchive.org and LightingDB.nypl.org, two websites making historical lighting documents accessible to students and scholars on the Internet.



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