Sonny Sonnenfeld

Sonny SonnenfeldRead Sonny Sonnenfeld's Sightlines Tribute

DOB: 9/29/1919           Location: New York, NY
DOD: 2/10/2016 Location: New York, NY



Inducted as a Fellow: 1997

Your earliest memories of the Institute?

Back to the beginning!

Favorite USITT memory?

Tom DeGaetani was getting a lot of flack from the west coast about the " N Y Mafia." He needed a N Y Section. One afternoon in his office in the Aenta building he and I got on the phone and set up an organization meeting at Juilliard School for three weeks later. We had created the New York Area Section.

Short list of career highlights:

  • N Y Sales Manager for Century Lighting
  • Partner in Lighting & Electronics
  • President N Y Section IES
  • Chair IES Theater Television & Film sub-committee Theater Lighting
  • Creator of Broadway Lighting Master Classes and Stage Lighting Super Saturday.

Short list of your involvement in the Institute:

  • Board of Directors for about 10 years from the beginning
  • Chair Stage Lighting 1985 Conference in NYC with 600 attendees.

If you were to make a short list of the memorable USITT characters that have made a difference to you, who would they be?

Stanley McCandless, Ben Schlanger,  Tom DeGaetani,  Harold Burris-Meyer

Anything you want to say about being a Fellow?

Being a Fellow is a great honor.  It is wonderful.

Anything you'd like to add about what the USITT means to you personally?

I can safely say USITT has been integral to my professional development as a theatre practitioner, educator, designer, manager and leader.  USITT has been my “learning laboratory,” so to speak. There was so much to learn after graduate school. I don’t know what I would have done if it weren’t for USITT. As I look back on it, USITT was my continuing education program. My transformation from being a “techie” working on load-ins and in the scene shop to being a TD, Stage Manager, Production Manager, Department Chair, Program Director, Associate Dean, Dean, and now Associate Provost was made possible by my work with USITT.


  • 5th Edition NAB Engineering Handbook chapter on TV Studio Lighting
  • 15 + - interviews for Lighting & Sound America
  • Numerous articles in Lighting Design & Application ( IES-NA publication), and others

List of books that you recommend about the field:

  • A Method of Lighting the Stage and Syllabus of Stage Lighting by Stanley McCandless
  • all of Richard Pilbrow's books
  • Light Fantastic by Max Keller
  • Magic of Light by Jean Rosenthal
  • The Art of Light and Architecture  Mark Major, Jonathan Speirs, Anthony Tischhauser,