Richard L. Arnold, Sr

Richard L. Arnold, Sr.



Read Richard Arnold's Sightlines Tribute

Your earliest memories of the Institute?

My earliest memory was in the Fall of 1964 when I wrote a letter to the then USITT President, Joel E. Rubin, seeking to join the Institute. Three months later I received a reply and then became a member. Other early memories included USITT Board meetings sitting around a crowded table in the ANTA Board Room in NYC.

Favorite USITT memory?

Receiving the Golden Triga Award at the Prague Quadrennial was a real sensational moment that I am pleased to have experienced. On this side of the pond, an event at the Anaheim Conference in 1975 was unforgettable. As USITT President, I entered a room filled with people wall to wall. They turned to me and requested that a costume interest committee be formed in the Institute. A sudden hush fell over the room when I said, “No, there can’t be a committee,” but then the roof raised slightly when I ended by saying, “the By Laws require that costume becomes a commission,” and Don Stowell, Jr. became the first Costume Commissioner.

Short list of career highlights:

  • BA & MA University of Iowa
  • Ph.D. Northwestern University
  • Taught at Univ. of Northern Iowa, Cal. State University-Fresno & Northern Illinois Univ.
  • Deans Award for service as chair of the School of Theatre & Dance at NIU.
  • Designed scenery for over 130 productions.
  • Founding member of the Illinois Theatre Association. (Award of Honor 1998 & Outstanding Contribution Award 1990)

Short list of your involvement in the Institute:

  • President of USITT 1973-1975
  • Past First Vice President, Chair of By Laws Committee, Chair of Finance Committee
  • Chair of Silver Anniversary Committee, Chair of the Fellows, Program Chair of Programming at 1990 Conference
  • 14 years on the Board of Directors
  • Currently member of the Archives Committee, the Audit Committee & the Fellows Fund Committee
  • Founding member and past chair of the Midwest Section
  • Fellow of the Institute 1977, Founders Award 1987, Honorary Lifetime Member 1996
  • Annual USITT Journal Award 1970

Short list of the memorable USITT characters that have made a difference to you?

As education mentors: Arnold Gillette, Walter Dewey, Theodore Fuchs, Lee Mitchell

As career mentors: Harold Burris-Meyer, Ned Bowman, Eddie Kook. Walter Walters, Joel Rubin, Bernard Grossman, Al Koga, George Petterson and many more

Being a USITT Fellow means:

Nothing has been more humbling than being named a Fellow. It is such a great honor to be among so distinguished a group of people.

What does USITT mean to you?

USITT has been a godsend helping me to advance in my theatre career. Associating with other members has been monumental in sharing knowledge and pursuing study and research in our field.


  • Book: Scene Technology, Prentice Hall, three editions: 1985, 1990, & 1994
  • Articles: Over 30 juried articles and book contributions
  • Chapter: “Design” in Theatre Technology and Design: A Course Guide. International Thespian Society. 1984
  • Editor: editor of three newsletters.