Award-winning lighting designer to head growing undergraduate program
Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts named award-winning lighting designer Jane Cox as the new director of the University’s Program in Theater. Cox has been a member of the Program in Theater faculty since 2007 and was recently promoted to senior lecturer in the program. Her appointment will begin on July 1.
Cox has received numerous awards for her work as a lighting designer and recently received the Ruth Morley Design Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women and is nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for a Musical for the current Broadway revival of The Color Purple, directed by fellow Princeton faculty member John Doyle.
Other recent projects include the National Theatre’s production of Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch in London, directed by Lyndsey Turner, for which she was awarded the 2016 Onstage Award; the new musical Amelie, directed by Pam MacKinnon, being presented at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles this season; Noises Off on Broadway, directed by Jeremy Herrin; and a new play about Roe v. Wade, directed by Bill Rauch, which will be presented at Arena Stage and Berkeley Rep this season. She is a long-term member of the Monica Bill Barnes Dance Company, designs regularly at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, and has working relationships with theater companies in London and Dublin.
Cox was nominated for the Tony and Drama Desk awards in 2014 for her work on Machinal at the Roundabout Theater. She was the most nominated designer in any discipline for the 2014 Henry Hewes Design Awards, being nominated for her designs for Machinal, All the Way and Dinner with Friends. In 2013, Cox won the Henry Hewes award for her work on The Flick, Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. She was also nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her work on Passion, directed by Doyle.
“Jane Cox is a brilliant lighting designer, a gifted teacher and mentor, and a visionary, collaborative administrator,” said Stacy Wolf, acting chair of the Lewis Center. “We’re thrilled that she will lead the Program in Theater to our next stage, both figuratively and literally, when we relocate to the arts and transit neighborhood in fall 2017.”
Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Cox has taught courses at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts graduate program in theater design, Vassar College, Sarah Lawrence College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and workshops at the Kennedy Center and universities all over the country. She is represented in the book Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance.
Since joining the Princeton faculty, Cox has designed lighting for numerous productions at the University and has taught courses in lighting design and advanced theatrical design, as well as a freshman seminar, “The Role of Light in Creative Expression,” and guest-taught for “Transformations in Engineering and the Arts” this past semester. In the fall she will co-teach a Princeton Atelier course, “Reinventing the Guided Tour,” with collaborator Monica Bill Barnes in which students will design and choreograph a live experience giving audiences a fresh glimpse into a local Princeton location.
Currently based in Brooklyn, Cox will be moving to Princeton before the fall semester begins.
Cox succeeds Tim Vasen, who led the Program in Theater from 2012 until he passed away in December. Playwright and professor in the Program in Theater Robert N. Sandberg has served as acting director of the program over the past five months.
“I’m honored to be taking over the Program in Theater from the brilliant and generous Tim Vasen, and excited to continue to work with the gifted students, faculty, staff, artists and artisans at the Lewis Center for the Arts,” said Cox. “I hope we’ll expand on Tim’s legacy, making inventive and student-driven theater and music theater with students of all backgrounds, academic interests, and levels of artistic skill. I hope we’ll become even more interdisciplinary in approach, continuing to create work with music, language, art, writing and dance; and reaching out further to the STEM fields, to historians, social activists and architects. I hope we’ll continue to expand our offerings of studios and seminars with world-renowned artists and academics, in order to enrich the lives of all students on our campus with ideas and creative practices from all over the country and the world.”
More than 200 students enroll each year in the 30-plus courses offered by the Program in Theater in acting, directing, playwriting, design, dramaturgy, performance history, and criticism, which are taught by a distinguished faculty of working artists, critics, and scholars. Students may pursue a certificate in theater, similar to a minor, in addition to a degree in their major. The number of certificate students has grown more than 30 percent over the past 10 years. The program annually presents a professionally produced show and a season of senior thesis productions, offering students the opportunity to write, direct, act, or design under the guidance of faculty, as well as to test the skills they have honed in the classroom in the public arena. Recent faculty and visiting lecturers in the program include Michael Cadden, Jill Dolan, John Doyle, Brian Herrera, Riccardo Hernandez, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Princeton Class of 2006), Mark Nelson (Princeton Class of 1979), Fintan O’Toole, John Rando, Anne Washburn and Stacy Wolf.
Among the graduates of the program are Broadway producer Jordan Roth ’97 (The Book of Mormon, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Kinky Boots, Jersey Boys); actors Mark Feuerstein ’93 (Royal Pains), Karron Graves ’99 (Coram Boy on Broadway, 1996 film version The Crucible), and Ellie Kemper ’02 (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Office); acclaimed theater directors Lileana Blain-Cruz ’06, Michelle Hensley ’80 and Davis McCallum ’97; and award-winning playwrights Noah Haidle ’01 and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins ’06.