The 2020 Henry Hewes Design Award Honors, recognizing artistry on the Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway stages for the 2019–2020 season, were announced September 2. Winners in two new categories—Sound Design and Media Design—were also named.
The honorees will be celebrated at a virtual ceremony October 14 via Zoom by Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and Illinois Theatre at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
For the 2020 honors, 95 designers were nominated for outstanding artistry in 61 productions presented during the 2019–2020 New York theatre season. This year's winners are 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). Five of the six honorees are receiving their first award from the committee.
The committee also awarded a special citation to the design team for María Irene Fornés' Fefu and Her Friends for their collaborative work: 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. Theatre For a New Audience's production opened in November 2019 at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn directed by Obie Award winner Lileana Blain-Cruz.
Amanda Villalobos and David Zinn led all artists with three nominations each for their work. Twelve other designers received two nominations each. Twenty-four productions received multiple nominations, with Fefu and Her Friends getting five.
"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 theatre, the Henry Hewes Design Awards committee and the Hewes Foundation are especially grateful to be able to honor excellence in New York theatre design for the 56th year,” said Committee Chair Jeffrey Eric Jenkins.