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Speaker Series: Women in Theatrical Design

Anita Yavich, Jane Shaw, Jane Cox and Mimi Lien on Theater Design Today

March 2, 1-2 p.m.: Costume Designer Anita Yavich in conversation with Prof. Yao Chen
March 8, 10:10-11:10: Sound Designer Jane Shaw in conversation with Prof. Amy Altadonna
March 16, 1-2 p.m.: Lighting Designer Jane Cox in conversation with Prof. Penny Remsen
March 30, 1-2 p.m.: Scenic Designer Mimi Lien in conversation with Prof. Anya Klepikov

Free and open to the community on Zoom

The direct link for today's event with Mimi Lien on Zoom is:

Meeting ID: 994 1283 0451

In a series of Zoom conversations that will be free and open to a national audience, UMass Theater presents four brilliant practitioners of theatrical design who will share their thoughts on their work and how they experience their field as women.

Costume Designer Anita Yavich (March 2), Sound Designer Jane Shaw (March 8), Lighting Designer Jane Cox (March 16), and Scenic Designer Mimi Lien (March 30) will talk about their art and practice, how they have found ways to assert their voice in a male-dominated sphere, and how they view the economics of making a career in their field. The conversations will be moderated by the designers' counterpart faculty members in theater, Yao Chen, Amy Altadonna, Penny Remsen, and Anya Klepikov. Registration for the conversations will open soon through the Fine Arts Center Box Office.

In private meetings, each designer will also conduct portfolio reviews and offer career advice to the department's MFA design students. 

With the exception of costume design, theater design and technical fields are dominated by men — one recent study shows that in Off-Broadway theaters, more than two-thirds of set, lighting, projection, and sound design hires from 2010-2015 were men. This series is funded by Women for UMass Amherst (WFUM), Made possible with support from Women for UMass Amherst (WFUM), a network of alumni that promotes the advancement of campus programs that provide access, support, and opportunity for UMass Amherst students, with preference to those projects that positively impact UMass Amherst women and their respective communities.

“Our guests will help give our students additional tools and impetus for challenging the sexism and bias out there,” said Theater Chair Harley Erdman. “The message is important for students of all genders who will be working in these male-heavy fields. We are thankful to WFUM for jumpstarting this idea and generously supporting it.”

More about our guests:

Anita Yavich
Anita Yavich

Anita Yavich, Costume Designer
Anita Yavich designed costumes for Broadway: Fool for Love, Venus in Fur, Chinglish, and Anna in the Tropics. Her New York design credits include Soft Power, Oedipus El Rey at the Public; The Mother at the Atlantic Theatre Company, Apologia at the Roundabout theatre, The View Upstairs at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre, Nathan the Wise, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Orlando, Venus in Fur, New Jerusalem and Texts for Nothing at Classic Stage; Thom Pain, Big Love, Kung Fu, Golden Child and Iphigenia 2.0 at Signature Theater; The Oldest Boy at Lincoln Center Theater; The Explorer’s Club at Manhattan Theatre Club; The Legend of Georgia McBride, The Submission, Coraline the Musical, The Wooden Breeks at Manhattan Class Company. Her opera credits include Aida at San Francisco Opera; Cyrano De Bergerac at La Scala, Metropolitan Opera and Royal Opera House (Covent Garden); Les Troyens at Metropolitan Opera. Current projects: Der Ring des Nibelungen at Opera Australia, Brisbane; Lempicka at La Jolla Playhouse. She has received Obie, Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, and Ovation Awards.

Jane Shaw
Jane Shaw

Jane Shaw, Sound Designer and Composer
For over twenty years, Ms. Shaw has designed and composed for theater, dance, and audio drama. Theatrical work in New York includes designs at Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, Mint Theater, Theatre for a New Audience, National Black Theatre, Repertorio Español, New York Theatre Workshop, Cherry Lane, and the COOP. Regional work includes projects with Hartford Stage, A.R.T., Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, Two River Theater, Asolo, Williamstown Theatre Festival, ACT, and Northern Stage. Awards: Drama Desk, Connecticut Critics Circle, Henry Award, Bessie Award, Meet the Composer Grant, NEA-TCG Career Development Grant recipient, nominations for Lortel and Elliot Norton awards. Proud Member of USA 829 and TSDCA (Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association, co-Secretary). Training: Harvard University, Yale School of Drama. 

Jane Cox
Jane Cox

Jane Cox, Lighting Designer
Jane Cox  is a lighting designer for theater, opera, dance and music. Designs in 2019 included The Marriage of Figaro at San Francisco Opera; Fefu and her Friends at Theater for a New Audience in NYC, directed by Princeton alumna Lileana Blain-Cruz; King Lear with Glenda Jackson on Broadway, directed by Sam Gold; a new musical adaptation of Secret Life of Bees (the design was nominated for a Drama Desk Award 2020); The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, directed by fellow faculty member John Doyle; a theatrical adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates book Between The World and Me, directed by Kamilah Forbes and a revival of True West on Broadway, directed by British director James McDonald. Jane has been nominated for two Tony awards, for her work on Jitney (2017) and on Machinal (2014), four Drama Desk awards, and three Lortel awards, and in 2013, was awarded the Henry Hewes Design Award for her work on The Flick. Jane has been a company member of the Monica Bill Barnes Dance Company for twenty years is Director of the Princeton University Program in Theater.

Mimi Lien
Mimi Lien

Mimi Lien, Scenic Design
Mimi Lien is a designer of sets/environments for theater, dance, and opera. In 2015, she was named a MacArthur Fellow, the first set designer ever to achieve this distinction. Selected work includes Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812 (Broadway, TONY Award, Lortel Award, 2013 Hewes Design Award), John (Signature Theatre, 2016 Hewes Design Award), Appropriate (Mark Taper Forum, LA Drama Critics Circle Award), Preludes, The Oldest Boy (Lincoln Center), An Octoroon (Soho Rep/TFANA, Drama Desk and Lortel nominations), Black Mountain Songs (BAM Next Wave). Her stage designs have been exhibited in the Prague Quadrennial in 2011 and 2015, and her sculptures were featured in the exhibition, LANDSCAPES OF QUARANTINE, at the Storefront for Art and Architecture. Mimi Lien received a B.A. in Architecture from Yale University (1997) and an M.F.A. in Stage Design from New York University (2003). She is a company member of Pig Iron Theatre Company and co-founder of the performance space JACK.


Women for UMass logo

Made possible by Women for UMass Amherst (WFUM). WFUM encourages and celebrates the critical role of women in the growth and success of the university. This alumnae network promotes the advancement of campus programs that provide access, support, and opportunity for our students, with preference to those projects that positively impact women and their respective communities. Annually WFUM awards an estimated $30,000 to worthy programs on campus. 

More information about Women for UMass Amherst:

With additional support from the UMass Arts Extension Service

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