Two Former USITT Presidents, Joel Rubin and Randy Earle, Died on March 27

April 2, 2024


Joel Rubin
Joel E. Rubin

The last USITT co-founder has died. Joel E. Rubin, 95, was one of a small group of industry leaders who proposed forming a membership corporation to conduct research and investigation in the field of theatre planning and design more than 60 years ago. Those articles of incorporation were approved by the State of New York and USITT came into being in 1960. The following year the Institute’s first Conference was presented.

Rubin served as the second president of USITT from 1963-65 and also served as the Institute’s Technical Secretary, as a Board member, founding chair of the International Liaison Committee, and on multiple other committees over the years. He was the co-chair of the USITT-sponsored United States exhibits at the Prague Quadrennial in 1987 and 1991 and was the recipient of the USITT Award, the Institute’s highest honor, for his work as a member of the 1987 PQ Steering Committee.  He was a Fellow and Lifetime Member of the Institute and also received the Founder’s Award in 1972 and 1976. The award was renamed the Joel E. Rubin Founder’s Award later to honor his contributions to USITT.

His work in international performing arts research and practice led to his selection as one of the U.S. delegates to the committee that founded OISTAT, the International Organization of Scenographers and Theatre Technicians. He served as the second president of OISTAT from 1971-79.

Raised in Cleveland, he studied at Case Institute of Technology (now Case-Western Reserve University), the Yale School of Drama, and Stanford University, where he received his Ph.D. Before completing his doctorate, he co-authored the book Theatrical Lighting Practice with Leland H. Watson, the Broadway lighting designer and scholar who also became a USITT president, fellow, and Founder’s Award recipient.

Rubin enjoyed a long career with Kliegl Bros. Lighting, Artec Consultants, and Joel E. Rubin & Associates. His expertise influenced lighting, lighting manufacturing and design, and theatrical design around the world.



James Earle Jr.
James R. Earle, Jr.

Former USITT President James R. Earle, Jr., also has died. Known to nearly everyone as Randy, Earle served as president from 1984-86. He often noted that he began his affiliation with the Institute as a student member in 1965, paying annual dues of five dollars. Over the years he also served as Commissioner for Performing Arts Training and Education, Vice President for Commissions and Projects, and Vice President of Relations. Inducted as a Fellow of the Institute in 1982, he served for more than 20 years as chair of that group. He was Lifetime Member and a recipient of the Joel E. Rubin Founder’s Award.

Earle was a graduate of Purdue University and began his teaching career there. He enjoyed a nearly four-decade tenure as head of the theatre program, technical director, lighting designer, sound designer and scenic designer at San Jose State University. He was also a theatre consultant and a partner in Pantechnicon LLC.

The Institute will announce remembrances and celebrations of their lives at a later date.