Oct. 29, 1998

Distinguished lighting designer, alumna to lecture

Jennifer Tipton

The Department of Theatre, Film and Dance is presenting a public lecture by Jennifer Tipton, Cornell Class of 1958, one of the theater world's most distinguished lighting designers, Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 4:30 p.m. in the Center for Theatre Arts Film Forum. Admission is free.

Tipton was studying and performing dance in New York when she first became interested in how performances looked and were lit. After an apprenticeship with lighting designer Thomas Skelton, she was soon designing for the Paul Taylor Dance Company, among others. It was Tipton's lighting of Jerome Robbins' high profile Celebrations: The Art of the Pas de Deux (1973) at Spoleto, Italy, that first won attention in theatrical circles. By the mid-1970s she was regularly engaged by the New York Shakespeare Festival and on Broadway.

By the 1980s Tipton was regarded as one of the most versatile lighting designers in dance. Her achievements range from the forceful, sculpted effects in Fait Accompli (Tharp, 1983) to the subtle, shimmering vision for In Memory Of... (Robbins, 1985), all the while highlighting the performers in their surroundings.

Tipton has said that "99 and nine-tenths percent of the audience is not aware of the lighting, though 100 percent is affected by it." Her capacity for lighting that is evocative as well as dramatically motivated has made her an outstanding practitioner of her trade.

Tipton won a Drama Desk Award for Ntosake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf (1976); a Joseph Jefferson Award for John Guare's The Landscape of the Body (1976); Drama Desk and Tony Award for The Cherry Orchard (1977) directed by Andrei Serban; and an Obie for Sustained Excellence at NYSF (1979). Tipton has been honored with the Brandeis University Creative Arts Award Medal in Dance (1982), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1986) and a Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service in Dramatic Arts (1989).

Since 1981 Tipton has been a professor at the Yale University School of Drama, where she lights one production annually at the Yale Repertory Theater.

While at Cornell, she also will be meeting with students in a music, dance and light class and a theater directing class. Tipton's appearance is supported in part by Cornell's James H. Becker Fund.