USITT Creates Wally Russell Mentoring Award

by Jacob Coakley

Wally Russell, the inspiration behind USITT’s new mentoring awardUSITT and the Wally Russell Foundation have partnered to create an award that will recognize someone who embodies the guiding spirit of Wally Russell, one of technical theatre’s most generous mentors.

USITT to Present Wally Russell Mentoring Award

Wally Russell, one of theatre technology’s most beloved leaders, also was one of its most generous mentors.

That’s why USITT and the Wally Russell Foundation created a new award to honor an industry professional who has helped others start their careers.

USITT is accepting nominations now through Dec. 15 for the award, to be presented at USITT 2015 in Cincinnati next March. Nominate here.

“Almost everyone has someone who, when they entered the field, took them under their wing and provided guidance and mentoring,” said USITT Executive Director David Grindle. “That was Wally Russell for many people.”
The award will recognize someone who embodies that guiding hand. To qualify, nominees must work primarily outside academia and have mentored in a professional setting such as theatre or business. Nominators are encouraged to put forth someone who “inspired you to fulfill your potential and to pass on that idea of inspiration to others.”

Wally Russell was a Canadian lighting designer and technical director who founded the theatre technology department at the University of Toronto and was general manager of the National Ballet. He received Canada’s prestigious Centennial Medal for his role in designing Canada’s National Arts Center in Ottawa.

He went on to serve as President of Strand Lighting USA and President of Theatre Projects Consultants North/South America. He was Technical Director of the Los Angeles Opera until his sudden death in 1993.

He was beloved by everyone who knew him, and especially the many young professionals he encouraged and guided.

The Wally Russell Mentoring Award is sponsored by Thern Stage Equipment, Philips Strand Lighting, and the Wally Russell Foundation. For more information, visit www.usitt.org/wally.