Leland H. Watson



  • State University of Iowa, B.A., Phi Beta Kappa (1948)
  • Yale University School of Drama, Master of Fine Arts  (1951)

Employment history:

  • Technical Director, Eastern Illinois State Teachers College (1940) Editor’s note: Age 14 while still in high school
  • U.S. Army Infantry (1944-1946) — Wounded in the Battle of the Bulge
  • Lighting Designer, Earth Spirit, Provincetown Playhouse, NYC (1950) — professional debut
  • Editor’s Note: Mr. Watson’s professional credits for the legitimate theatre numbered more than 400 productions, mostly in Lighting Design, but he also sometimes designed Scenery and occasionally Costumes. Although obviously too numerous to list, some of the highlights of his career are listed below:
  • Lighting Director-Television:

            Numerous programs, CBS Television (1951-1955)

            (And  Scenic Designer), Get Set, Go, U.S. Army Signal Corps (1956-1957)

            Numerous programs, MGM Telestudios (1959-1963)

            Commercials, Videotape Productions, 1960 - 1963

  • Lighting Designer for more than 40 Broadway Shows and more than 60 Operas.  Significant productions include:

            The Traveling Lady, Playhouse Theatre (1954) — Broadway Debut

            Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, Coronet (1955) — world premiere

            The Diary of Anne Frank, Cort (1955) — world premiere

            A Moon for the Misbegotten, Bijou, (1957)

            The Cave Dwellers, Bijou (1957)

            Lost in the Stars, New York City Opera, New York City Center (1958)

            Good Soldier, New York City Opera, New York City Center (1958)

            The Rape of Lucretia, New York City Opera, New York City Center (1958)

            On the Town, Carnegie Hall Playhouse (1959)

            Free and Easy (European production), Amsterdam, Netherlands (1959)

            Maria Golovin, New York City Opera, New York City Center (1959)

            The Bolshoi Ballet tour of the United States and Canada, (1959)

            The Pretenders, Cherry Lane (1960)

            Machinal, Gate (1960) — Note: Obie Award

            The Blacks, St. Marks Playhouse (1961)

            Second Hurricane (the opera), Museum of Modern Art (1961)

            Turn of the Screw, New York City Opera, New York City Center (1962)

            Carmen, New York City Center (1962)

  • Costume, Scenic and Lighting Designer:

            The Next President, Bijou, (1958)

            The-A Musical Salamagundi (1958)

            The Importance of Being Oscar, Lyceum (1961)

            Moby Dick, Madison Avenue Playhouse (1961)

Scenery and Lighting Designer, A Lovely Night, Hudson (1960)

  • Lighting Designer, Industrial Shows:

            The Pontiac Industrial Show, Detroit, Michigan (1960)

            Vive La Femme, Latin Quarter (Nightclub), New York City (1960)

            The Chevrolet Industrial Show, Detroit, Michigan (1961)

            The Coca-Cola Industrial Show, Miami, Florida (1961)

            Century 21 Industrial Show, Seattle World’s Fair (1962)

            Chevrolet Industrial Show, Detroit, Michigan (1962)

  • Lighting Designer and Supervisor, The Father, Miss Julie, and Long Day’s Journey into Night, Swedish Royal Dramatic Theater, Seattle World’s Fair, 1962
  • Interim Faculty and/or Instructor: Brooklyn College, Lester Polakov’s Studio, University of Houston, CW Post College, and Forum of Stage Design
  • Associate Professor, Purdue University, 1975 – 1981
  • Full Professor, Purdue University, 1981 - 1989


  • Senior Contributing Editor, Critic of Broadway Lighting Design, Lighting Dimensions, (1980-1986)
  • Critic, Lighting Design + Application
  • Co-Author (with Joel E. Rubin), Theatrical Lighting Practice (1955)
  • Author, A Handbook of Lighting Design (1990)
  • Author, numerous articles for Educational Theatre Journal, Player’s and Theatre Design and Technology

USITT Involvement and Offices Held:

  • President (1980-1982)
  • Chair, Awards Committee
  • Chair, New York Section
  • Vice President, Liaison and Relations (1978)

Awards and Honors:

  • Elected USITT Fellow (1978)
  • USITT Joel E. Rubin Founders Award (1983)
  • Board Member and Vice President (1961-1963), United Scenic Artists, Local 829
  • Obie Award for Machinal, 1960
  • Board of Directors, International Association of Lighting Designers
  • Purple Heart, U. S. Army Infantry (WWII)