Each autumn, second and third-year master’s degree candidates in the School of Theater's production technology and production design programs put the finishing touches on their portfolios. They then submit them to the Peggy Ezekiel Awards program for review by the Board of the Ohio Valley Section (OVS) of the United States Institute for Theater Technology (USITT). The awardees receive special invitations to the annual OVS Fall Conference to accept their awards in person. For many students, receiving a Peggy Ezekiel Award and moving on to the annual USITT conference in the spring can be an important early indicator of real-world success.
Since 1985 the Peggy Ezekiel Awards has recognized outstanding achievement in all areas of theatrical design and technical production throughout the Ohio Valley Section region. Ezekiel was one of the four original founders of USITT/Ohio Valley Section and believed a localized chapter of USITT was needed to serve Ohio theater community.
In the fall 2018 OVS competition, 17 out of the 21 student awardees were from OHIO. For the fall 2019 OVS competition 10 out of 24 awardees were OHIO students.
Jacob T. Brown, MFA '19, received a 2018 Award of Outstanding Achievement for a scenic fabrication project in OHIO School of Theater's production of Top Girls. The piece was a 12-foot high by 4-foot wide feminist reimagining of Mt. Rushmore. The effort took Brown and his mentor seven weeks to carve.
“The contest allows you to showcase your talent and skill in a public scope that wasn’t available to me at my undergraduate university in California, so this was my first time being critiqued by professionals in the field," says Brown, now a member of the design faculty at California State University, Chico. "In the back of my mind, knowing that I had to take process shots throughout the project did push me to work more diligently.”
Xintong Li, MFA '19, who received an Award of Outstanding Achievement in 2018 for her costume design for the school's production of The Skin of Our Teeth, says for her the award speaks to the importance of collaboration.
“I think the Peggy Ezekiel Awards are really important because you get a chance for everyone to know your work. As a designer, I have a whole shop and team behind me who supported me a lot. Working closely together and being supportive was very important for them, and for myself as well.” Post-graduation, Li began an L.A.-based internship with Disney after graduation, an opportunity that came out of conversations at the USITT conference.
“We are so proud of our Ezekiel award winners,” says Michael Lincoln, director of Theater, artistic director of Tantrum Theater, and professor of Lighting Design. “Our halls are lined with previous award-winning displays in all production design categories and we were thrilled to add new recipients to that list. The Peggy Ezekiel Awards are the students’ first step toward national recognition in the field.”