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Department of Theatre Retirement: Rusty Jones

Congratulations are in order for associate professor of scenic design Rusty Jones as he retires from the Department of Theatre! Rusty joined the Department in 1998 and served as department chair his first ten years. During this time, Rusty played an integral part in the conceptualization and completion of the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts, a $50+ million project spanning several years. Rusty has had a dynamic history with the Department and has impacted the lives of his students and colleagues in profound ways.

Over his career, Rusty has designed over 140 productions for theatre, opera, ballet, and television. Recent work includes a world premiere production of Egress at Amphibian Stage Productions in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as their production of Babette’s Feast, which was named the 2019 Outstanding Scenic Design by the Dallas/Fort Worth Theatre Critic’s Forum. He designed the Fall 2021 Department of Theatre production of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Sweat; and recently designed The Music Man, University of Michigan Department of Musical Theatre; The Birds, A Christmas Carol, Singin' in the Rain and Charley's Aunt, Huntington University Theatre Company; A Kentucky Christmas, Woodford Theatre [Kentucky]; ComedySportz, Chicago; Death and the Maiden, Centaur Theatre, Montreal; The Nutcracker, RiverPark Center, Kentucky; River of Time, [world premiere opera] Lexington Opera House; The Rake's Progress, University of Michigan Opera Theatre; Quartet, Hudson Village Theatre, Quebec; and Big Ten television programs: The Danny Hope ShowThe Matt Painter Show, and The Sharon Versyp Show

He received Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Citation for Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design for Noises Off at Pegasus Theatre Chicago. His scenic designs are featured on the covers of three popular texts: James W. and Wanda Rodgers’ Play Directors’ Survival Kit, for which he served as graphic designer and illustrator; J. Michael Gillette’s Theatrical Design and Production, 7th edition; and Designing with Light, by Gillette and Michael J. McNamara. 

Rusty has lectured at the Beijing Dance Academy and the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing; the American International School of Guangzhou, China; and has given workshops in scenic design at the National Arts University, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China; and rendering for art directors and model making for film designers at Universidad Nacionale de Colombia in Bogotá, Colombia, South America. In addition, he has taught two courses for Purdue’s study abroad program in London. He received the Excellence in Teaching Award in the Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance for 2015-16. 

Rusty was a thirteen-year member of the selection committee and a past chair of Design and Technology for Region III of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival [KCACTF]. He was awarded the 2004 national scenic design fellowship for the KCACTF Summer Design Intensives at the Kennedy Center, and was honored in 2014 with the Kennedy Center Gold Medallion for his service to KCACTF. 

His Master of Fine Arts degree in stage design is from Northwestern University, Evanston IL, USA. 

The Department wishes Rusty the best of luck in the next chapter of his life!


December 2021