New Fellows to be Honored in Houston
November 7, 2019
The following individuals have been selected as Fellows of the Institute for and will be honored in Houston at USITT 2020. We are excited to welcome them into the long line of Fellows!
Information provided by Randy Earle, Fellow of the Institute.
David Rodger and Deborah Hazlett
While it's unusual to link two individuals with one nomination, these are two who jointly impacted the Institute greatly and their work is both impressive and inseparable. These two became contractors for the Institute in the Fall of 1995, editing and providing art direction respectively first for the winter 1996 issue of Theatre Design & Technology magazine. From then, until they retired from their co-editorial roles in 2015, David and Deborah provided able leadership for the Institute’s publishing efforts, skilled mentorship of amateur authors, adapted from actual cut-and-paste to computer-based publishing, and offered wise counsel for the Institute’s brand through the establishment of some of the first style and brand guidelines for our organization.
While their work as the editorial and design staff of TD&T is worthy of merit on its own, they were also instrumental in the establishment and ultimate publication of The Designs of… series as well as the Late & Great publication (a part of the Institute’s 50th anniversary) featuring the work of 25 designers from the past. The 11-volume Designs of… series filled a void within the theatre industry, documenting both the process and the body of work of the leading Broadway linked designers. Often working with first-time authors, through David’s deft guidance at prose, combined with Deborah’s consummate artistic layout, these publications have become an essential resource and teaching tool for designers everywhere.
As the “go-to” publishers of USITT work, David and Deborah also transformed the Tech Expo catalog, from a bound, re-typed, reproduction of the supporting paperwork submitted with the original exhibitors for the first five versions of this Institute program, to a fully illustrated, glossy covered catalog that has also become a seminal work on the shelves of many a technical director.
Throughout their time in “working under contract” with the Institute, both David and Deborah also became very involved in the Institute’s Publications Committee. They were reasoned voices, advising elected leadership on subjects ranging from how to encourage early-career authors, how to navigate partnerships with professional publishers, how to recognize the impact of written works on the industry (the Golden Pen Award) and way to honor contributors to TD&T (the Herb Greggs Awards). At times their engagement was somewhat contentious, but looking back, they always had the best interests of the Institute in mind as they shared their guidance. The juggled a variety of competing interests within the Institute and ultimately were both diplomatic and forward-thinking. They always went above and beyond the call and are certainly qualified by having jointly made a “truly outstanding contribution to the Performing Arts and to USITT.”
Michael Mehler has just completed 12 years of service on the Board of Directors of USITT, most recently serving as Vice President of Communications. During his time as Vice President, Michael spearheaded the transition of editorial support from David Roger and Deborah Hazlett following Deborah’s accident, through the interim period with Bill Browning at the helm to the current contact with Hickman/Brady and Eileen Curley’s editorial leadership. He is also a former Vice President of Programming and serves as the co-emcee of the conversations with the Distinguished Award Winners each year at the Annual Conference and Stage Expo. As a long-time member of the Institute, Michael also serves on the Institute’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and is a leading voice in sustainable design and technology.
At Allegheny College, he has co-chaired both its Council on Diversity and Equity (CoDE) and its Finance and Facilities Committee. Past national leadership positions beyond USITT include Co-Chair of the Broadway Green Alliance’s (BGA) Education Committee, and the Design & Technology Focus Group Representative for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).
He has designed scenery and lighting in Atlanta, Charleston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Texas, and Virginia. His favorite designs include Remembrances (world premiere with Ballet Austin), The Importance of Being Earnest (Unseam’d Shakespeare Company), Waiting for Godot (Pitt Repertory Theatre), The Cherry Orchard (Allegheny College Playshop Theatre), Mary Stuart (Baylor University Theatre), and Romeo and Juliet (Virginia Shakespeare Festival).
Michael has given more than 30 presentations on design and production history, theory, and pedagogy at ASTR, ATHE, CDC, MATC, PCA, and USITT conferences. Current research focuses on sustainable design and production, specifically investigating new materials and advocating for alternative practices that integrate long term planning with the creative process. He regularly works with Allegheny students and staff to discover and implement more sustainable practices for the Playshop Theatre, the premiere performance organization on the Allegheny campus.
Michael holds a BS in theatre from Northwestern University, an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. At Allegheny College, he teaches theatre design, stage management, sustainable production, and critical theory; he also serves as production manager for the Playshop Theatre.