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Desmond Heeley, Theatre Designer

Desmond Heeley

In 2000, the Indiana University Department of Theatre and Drama presented two Ralph L. Collins Memorial Lectures by celebrated theatre designer, Desmond Heeley, who has been called, One of the pre-eminent designers of the twentieth century— a master of elegance, wit, and theatricality. The lectures, entitled "The Life and Art of Desmond Heeley" and "The Tempest Workbook: The Magic of the Theatre," allowed students to interact with one of the leading figures of twentieth-century scenic and costume design.

Heeley began his career a the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company and then at the Shakespeare Memorial (now Royal Shakespeare) Theatre, where he became designer in 1955. His first shows were Toad of Toad Hall, notable for its masks and headdresses and depiction of animals hands and feet and as Peter Brooks assistant at the Sheakespeare Memorial Theatre, where he designed Titus Andronicus with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Mr. Heeley’s Hamlet in 1957 marked the opening of the Festival Theatre at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival in Ontario, Canada. Recent credits include Amadeus, Measure for Measure, the School for Wives, Phaedra and the Merchant of Venice. He designed the premiere production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at Britains National Theatre and on Broadway (where it received two Tony Awards in 1968), and the pavilion at Caernarvon Castle, Wales, for the investiture of Prince Charles. Recently, he designed Joe Dowlings inaugural production of The Cherry Orchard at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. International credits include the Metropolitan Opera, The Royal Opera (Covent Garden), American Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, Houston Balet, the English National Ballet, Broadway and Deutsche Oper Ballet. He receive the Theatre Development Funds Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994, the Allan Jones Memorial Award in 1995, and in March 1997, he was awarded the prestigious United States Institute for Theatre Technology Award to recognize his lifetime contribution to the performing arts.