Distinguished Achievement Award Winners 2017

Distinguished Achievement Award in Costume Design & Technology

Liz Covey


Co-author with Rosemary Ingham of The Costumer Designer’s Handbook and The Costume Technician’s Handbook, Liz was born in Leicester UK, educated at Sibford Friends School and the Leicester College of Art. While living in London she worked at the Old Vic, the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House, and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre Her first costume designs were for the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland.

A year of living on a Kibbutz in Israel and traveling through Europe was followed by a five-month tour of India, Pakistan, Ceylon and the Far East with the New Shakespeare Company.

Liz came to the US to work at Meadow Brook Theatre in Rochester, MI, where she spent three seasons before moving to San Francisco to join the American Conservatory Theatre. Her costume designs have been seen at many of the major theatres across this country including Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, American Conservatory Theatre, ACT in Seattle, Cincinnati Playhouse, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center Theater Company, Hartford Stage Company, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The McCarter Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The Old Globe in San Diego, Olney Theatre Center, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Paper Mill Playhouse, Walnut Street Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre and the Seattle Repertory Theatre.

She has taught at Barnard College/Columbia University, Marymount Manhattan, Muhlenberg College and Bennington College and was an instructor for the Theatre Development Fund Intern Program for several years.


Distinguished Achievement Award in Lighting Design & Technology

Fred Foster


Fred Foster is ETC’s founder and CEO. While studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the 1970’s, being mentored by lighting-design luminary Gilbert Hemsley, Jr., Foster and his brother Bill, Gary Bewick and James Bradley developed a groundbreaking lighting-control console for theater, Mega Cue™, in Foster’s apartment. Over time, Foster has performed virtually all roles for ETC – from original inventor/engineer to industrial designer, tech support, salesman, marketer, chief operating officer, to president, and now CEO.

Foster focuses his CEO energies not only on ETC’s global strategy and product development but on the cohesiveness of the internal ETC community and ETC’s role in the external community. He is also the prime force behind ETC’s student mentoring and philanthropic efforts. He conceptualized the acclaimed architectural look of ETC’s Middleton, Wisconsin, headquarters and the themed spaces in ETC’s London and New York offices, and he designs and builds ETC’s tradeshow booths.

He has received some of the industry’s top honors: the 2015 Knight of Illumination Lifetime Recognition Award, the 2013 Ken Hendricks Memorial “Seize the Day” Award, the 2010 USITT Midwest Section Award, a USITT Special Citation, the 2007 Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award, and the international 2010 Gottelier Award. He is proud of the Wisconsin Governor’s Award for the Arts 2010, given to ETC as a vital and progressive force for creativity in the state.


Distinguished Achievement Award in Scene Design & Technology

Santo Loquasto

Santo_Loquasto_DAA_SceneSanto Loquasto, the winner of the USITT 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award in Scenic Design, has some 430 projects to his credit in his fifty-two year career. He was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1944, and attended King's College there as an undergraduate English major, where he was active in theatre. He studied at the Yale School of Drama, receiving his MFA in scenic design in 1969. As a high school student and undergraduate, he worked extensively in summer stock and interned in scenery at the Williamstown Theatre. He later was a resident designer at Williamstown. He designed at regional theatres, including the Yale Repertory Theatre, the Hartford Stage Company, and the Long Wharf Theatre while still a student at Yale and in his early years in New York. Other regional theatre work includes Arena Stage, the Guthrie Theatre, Steppenwolf, and the Goodman.

He was a resident designer for the New York Shakespeare Festival in the early 1970s and designed at the Public Theatre, the Delacorte, and the Vivian Beaumont and Mitzi Newhouse theatres at Lincoln Center. Among his NYSF credits were That Championship Season, which transferred to Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award, and The Cherry Orchard, which was nominated for Tony Awards for scenic design and costume design and won for costume design. His 1988 NYSF production of Café Crown also transferred to Broadway and won a Tony for scenic design.

He has had extended associations with notable directors, including Liviu Ciulei, Andre Serban, Andre Belgrader, Ulu Grosbard, Robert Falls, Austin Pendleton, and Antoni Cimolino at the Stratford Festival. He has collaborated extensively with Lynne Meadow at the Manhattan Theatre Club and designed four productions for the Chekhov Cycle at Classic Stage Company.

He has been either costume designer or production designer for thirty films for Woody Allen and was nominated for Oscars for costumes for Zelig and production design for Radio Days and Bullets Over Broadway. His other film designs include Desperately Seeking Susan and Big.

Mr. Loquasto has designed for opera at the Metropolitan Opera and the Chicago Lyric Opera and for dance at the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the National Ballet of Canada. He has had career-long collaborations with the choreographers Twyla Tharp and Paul Taylor.

Besides five Tony nominations for costume design, he has Tony scenic design nominations for American Buffalo, The SuicideLong Day's Journey into Night, Glengarry Glen Ross, Three Days of Rain, Fences, The Assembled Parties, Bullets Over Broadway, and  Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. His designs for Hello, Dolly, with Bette Midler, will be seen on Broadway in Spring 2017.

Distinguished Achievement Award in Sound Design & Technology

Richard K. Thomas

Rick_Thomas_Pic_DAA_SoundRick Thomas is a full professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue University. He has had a long, successful career as a composer, sound designer, author, playmaker, and educator. As a certified sound designer in United Scenic Artists Local 829, Rick has composed scores and designed sound for over 100 productions including the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, Dublin Theatre Festival, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and ESPN television among many others. His work has been exhibited in the Czech Republic, Israel, Cuba, Korea, the Philippines, Finland, Poland and across the US and Canada. Rick has written about the art and practice of theatre sound extensively for the Theatre Design and Technology Journal (winning the 2002 Herbert Greggs Award for Outstanding Journal Article), has published the first monograph on sound design, The Designs of Abe Jacob, and contributed to Ross Brown’s book, Sound: A Reader in Theatre Practice

Rick has lectured extensively, including the Broadway Sound Master Classes, the film institute at Babelsburg, Germany, the Bregenzer Festspiele in Austria, the Prague Quadrennial, World Stage Design in Korea, Synergetic Audio Concepts, the Audio Engineering Society (AES), the Acoustical Society of America, American Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), and many universities in the US and abroad. He has been especially active in presenting workshops, lectures and panel discussions at The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) for close to forty years, starting with a panel presentation with the legendary Harold Burriss-Meyer, “What Is Sound Design,” in 1978. Along the way, he introduced an extraordinary number of new concepts to theatre starting with demonstrations at the 1980 USITT National Conference in Kansas of the use of sound effects in the theatre, continuing in 1981 with a demonstration of synthesizer usage, and in 1987 with a demonstration of the practical use of digital samplers. In 1990 he demonstrated many new digital technologies working together in Bloodbath of the Living Dead in 3D, which he and a group of Purdue students premiered at the USITT National Conference in Milwaukee. He created the first known public exhibition of a theatre sound score for the 1984 USITT National Conference in Orlando. In 1987 he worked with the Jeff Awards Committee in Chicago to establish one of the first awards for sound designers in theatre. He was first to publish articles in 1987 and 1988 drawing attention to the need for copyright clearance and sound designer unions in theatre. He co-created the first Scenofest at the 2003 Prague Quadrennial, introducing sound to the legendary exhibition, and went on to co-create the inaugural World Stage Design in Toronto in 2005, in which he also curated the inaugural sound exhibition.

As a playmaker, Rick has also sought to push the boundaries of theatre both technically and aesthetically with original works including his punk rock musical Awakening (1993), The Creature, excerpts of which were performed in Santiago Cuba, Finland and Poland (1999-2000), a motion-capture dance exploration generating real-time visual music, The Life of Umbrellas (2004), a collaboration with the New Century Saxophone Quartet, The Art of the Fugue, that premiered at Purdue and subsequently performed in St. Louis and New York City (2004-2005), and the experimental media piece Labcoats on Clouds (2007), that premiered at the 2007 Prague Quadrennial. For over twenty years, then, Rick has explored the main thesis of his proposed book in production, namely the roots of theatre in music. He especially enjoys setting his work in the “grey area between music and theatre, plays and concerts,” emphasizing story telling through music and mimesis first, and only subsequently expanding the journey through language when appropriate. His most recent original creations have especially focused on this approach. Ad Infinitum³, which premiered at the 2011 Prague Quadrennial, featured an immersive dub-step styled theatre game that utilized unique smartphone technology that allowed audience members to become characters in the performance using their smartphones as controllers. It was subsequently performed at the QualComm Institute in San Diego CA in 2014. In 2014, Rick premiered Choices, at Purdue University, a meshing of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and theatre, which Rick affectionately calls “thEDMatre.” The production was one of twenty US theatre productions of the last four years featured in the US National Exhibition at the 2015 Prague Quadrennial. He most recently collaborated with Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer, in creating the new musical Betty’s Diner, which premiered at Purdue University in 2015.

As an educator at Purdue University, Rick was the first graduate of a Master of Fine Arts program in sound in 1980, and went on to develop the MFA program to include separate tracks in Sound Design, Audio Technology and Audio Engineering. He has worked extensively with the colleges of Engineering and Technology to develop audio related curricula within those programs. Within the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue he has developed educational sound programs and classes related to television and radio broadcasting, film and video studies, music and dance. In 2012 he established an undergraduate major in Sound for the Performing Arts. He has developed a wide array of courses in audio engineering, audio production and the art and aesthetics of sound design, and developed a close working relationship with the audio industry to bring exceptional guest lecturers, workshops and seminars to Purdue. His efforts to facilitate learning in theatre sound have been recognized with the Purdue University Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in Memory of Charles B. Murphy in 2007 and inclusion in the Book of Great Teachers at Purdue University in 2008.

Rick is a Fellow of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT), where he has also been awarded the Joel E. Rubin Founder’s Award and an elected member of the National Theatre Conference. He is the founder of the International Association of Theatre Architects and Technicians (OISTAT) Sound Design Group (formerly the OISTAT Sound Working Group). He is the former USITT Sound Commissioner, associate editor for sound for the Theatre Design and Technology Journal, and member of USITT’s Board of Directors.

For more information about Rick, please visit zoundsproductions.com

Distinguished Achievement Award in Technical Production

Rocky Paulson

RockyPaulsonPic_DAA_TechRocky Paulson was born in San Francisco. Prior to attending college to study psychology and philosophy, his first adult profession was as a reactor operator on a fast attack submarine in the ‘60s. While in college he worked for the stagehands’ union, rigging at the Cow Palace arena in San Francisco. In 1973 Rocky took a job with the NBC network as a rigger on a national tour of Disney on Parade. Over the next three years he toured with these shows in the U.S., South America, Australia, and the Far East. During this period, he also squeezed in tours with Earth, Wind and Fire, and Jethro Tull.

After completing this apprenticeship, Rocky came back to the States and to San Francisco and started working as a stagehand again. This didn’t last long though as he resumed his touring with Pink Floyd in 1977. Later that year he started Stage Rigging, a production rigging company. It was the first of its kind and still maintains a high profile in the industry 10 years after his retirement. During this period until 2006 Rocky had the opportunity to be involved with many rock tours, corporate events, films, and major rigging events such as national political conventions, Olympics, and Super Bowls. Rocky has always believed that education is the best way to prevent rigging accidents. He spent significant time educating the Stage Rigging riggers and others in the industry by writing articles and teaching. Now, retired from rigging, he limits his activity to teaching the next generation of arena riggers.

Distinguished Achievement Award in Management

Joseph Drummond

Joseph_Drummond_USITT_Photo__1Joseph Drummond recently retired as a Production Stage Manager with The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, IL after 42 seasons. His credits include 133 Goodman Productions, among them The Iceman Cometh (also at BAM) Death of a Salesman (also on Broadway in 1999 and at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles), and Glengarry Glen Ross (also on Broadway in 1984) and 12 productions of A Christmas Carol. He received the 2011 Del Hughes Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Stage Managers’ Association. He is included in the 2012 edition of Marquis’ Who’s Who in America. Mr. Drummond taught stage management at Roosevelt University for 21 years and is the recipient of the Joseph Jefferson Award for Lifetime Achievement after 25 years of stage management at the Goodman. He is a 45-year member of Actors’ Equity Association and currently the Central Region Rep of the SMA.

Distinguished Achievement Award in Education

John Conklin

John Conklin is a scenic and costume designer that has designed for Opera, Theatre, and Ballet in a career spanning fifty years. Has designed for the Metropolitan, San Francisco Opera, Paris Opera, The Royal Opera (Stockholm), Houston Grand Opera, the Opera Theatre of St Louis, Glimmerglass Opera and Seattle Opera, and others. Mr. Conklin is professor at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.