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2020 Hewes Design Awards Honorees Announced

Michael Eddy • Industry NewsTheatre Buzz • September 3, 2020

The 2020 Henry Hewes Design Award Honors for the 2019-2020 theater season were announced on September 2, 2020 and will be presented at a virtual awards ceremony on October 14.

“During this extremely challenging moment in history, when longstanding concerns of equity and justice have intersected with a deadly pandemic and its attendant loss of jobs in the theater, the Henry Hewes Design Awards committee and the Hewes Foundation are especially grateful to be able to honor excellence in New York theater design for the 56th year,” said Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, Chair of the Henry Hewes Design Awards Committee. “As theater design has evolved, the awards have also expanded their emphasis to include new categories in Sound Design and Media Design that will be permanent as we move forward.”

The online award ceremony will be hosted on Wednesday, October 14 via Zoom webinar by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and Illinois Theatre at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

2020 Honorees:
Honors for the 2019-20 season were earned by twelve artists for their work. Scenic designer Paul Steinberg (Judgment Day, Park Avenue Armory), costume designer Anita Yavich (Soft Power, Public Theater), lighting designer Isabella Byrd (Heroes of the Fourth Turning, Playwrights Horizons), sound designer Justin Ellington (Heroes of the Fourth Turning, Playwrights Horizons), media designer Hannah Wasileski (Fires in the Mirror, Signature Theatre), and hair and wig designer Nikiya Mathis (Stew, Page 73 at Walkerspace) will be honored with 2020 Henry Hewes Design Awards. Five of the six 2020 honorees are receiving their first award from the Hewes committee.

The committee also awarded a special citation to the design team for Fefu and Her Friends, for their collaborative work. Honored with these special citations are Adam Rigg, scenic design; Montana Levi Blanco, costume design; Jane Cox, lighting design; Palmer Hefferan, sound design; Cookie Jordan, hair and wig design; and Andrew Diaz, properties design.

These annual awards honor designers for work in venues on Broadway, off Broadway and off-off Broadway, recognizing the traditional categories of Scenic Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design, and Notable Effects. For 2020, the committee and the Hewes Foundation have created new categories of Sound Design and Media Design. All nominated designs must have originated in United States productions. The Hewes Awards Committee annually considers more than 200 productions when making its nominations.

For the 2020 honors, 95 theater artists were nominated for outstanding artistry in 61 productions presented during the 2019-2020 New York theater season on, off, and off-off Broadway.

Amanda Villalobos and David Zinn led all artists with three nominations each for their design work. Twelve other designers received two nominations each for their work during the 2019-20 season. Twenty-four productions received multiple nominations, with Fefu and Her Friends at Theatre for a New Audience getting five nominations. Five productions each received four nominations. Eight productions each received three nominations and ten other productions each received two nominations. As of the 2020 awards, the Committee has bestowed 325 honors on 212 artists representing 279 productions.

2020 Henry Hewes Design Awards Honorees:
Scenic Design: Paul Steinberg (Judgment Day, Park Avenue Armory)
Costume Design: Anita Yavich (Soft Power, Public Theater)
Lighting Design: Isabella Byrd (Heroes of the Fourth Turning, Playwrights Horizons)
Sound Design: Justin Ellington (Heroes of the Fourth Turning, Playwrights Horizons)
Media Design: Hannah Wasileski (Fires in the Mirror, Soho Rep)
Notable Effects: (Hair and Wig Design) Nikiya Mathis (Stew, Page 73/Walkerspace)

Special Citation:
Design Team (Fefu and Her Friends, Theatre for a New Audience)
Adam Rigg, Scenic Design
Montana Levi Blanco, Costume Design
Jane Cox, Lighting Design
Palmer Hefferan, Sound Design
Cookie Jordan, Hair and Wig Design
Andrew Diaz, Properties Design

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