Award winning designer, admired educator, esteemed mentor and treasured friend Donald J. Childs died on December 18, 2011, from complications following surgery.
Don began his theatrical career at the San Francisco Actors Workshop during the theatrically active 1960′s. During his tenure with the Workshop he spent his summers at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival (for 5 years) working as a technician, lighting designer and finally as Technical Director. When the Workshop founders went to New York to take over the Lincoln Center Theatres, Don returned to college where he obtained a BA from the University of Iowa and an MFA from Indiana University. A teaching career has taken Don from San Diego to Montreal and many places in between. At the time of his death, Don was teaching and designing at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.
In a career spanning 5 decades, Don designed over 200 plays, musicals, dance concerts, and exhibitions for both academic and professional theatres. His work has been displayed at the Prague Quadrennial where the production that he lit for set designer Ladislav Vychodil won the Gold Medal for Scenography. Among Don’s favorite designs was the production of Not About Nightingales which was produced at Sam Houston State in 2003. Nightingales brought him a number of awards including an invitation to exhibit in the inaugural World Stage Design exhibition in Toronto in 2005. Don was named Artist of the Year by Texas Educational Theatre Association in 2007.
Perhaps Don’s best design was his relationship with his wife and partner of 45 years Jane Childs. Theirs was a true collaboration in life, in art and in business. Together, they have built businesses, trained and nurtured students and built an extended community of artists and friends that extends to all corners of the earth. Their best joint venture is their daughter, author Tera Lynn Childs.
Always firm believers in giving back to an art form they loved, in 2006, Don & Jane founded the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas, an 8-week summer intensive training program using the backdrop of state-of-the-art live entertainment production in Las Vegas as a learning lab to train the next generation of working professionals. As a living testament to their vision, the Institute will go ahead with their 6th season beginning in June of 2012.
Don was the chair of the Southwest region of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology. Don was a member of USITT, IATSE-USA 829, and IAAM. Memorial donations are being accepted for the Don Childs Student Opportunity Scholarship to USITT. Send to Send to USITT, Re: Don Childs, 315 South Crouse Avenue, Suite 200, Syracuse, NY 13210.