Tony-winning lighting designer Justin Townsend is set to take over as chair of NYU Tisch's Department of Design for Stage and Film beginning in August. Townsend will take over the department from fellow Tony winner and costume designer Susan Hilferty, ending a tenure of more than 20 years.
“NYU Tisch is the envy of the design world; the range of prolific alumni and educators and the sheer talent of the students make this a program I have admired for decades," shares Townsend. "I am deeply honored by this opportunity.
“We are in a critical and thrilling moment for design education. Designers are uniquely suited to meet moments of cultural change; we think about story, audience experience, character arc, world building, and evoking an audience’s radical imagination. Technologies and aesthetics we can’t yet imagine are coming, and at NYU Tisch, a designer can link their art and growing craft with these emergent forms."
Townsend was a 2020 Tony winner for his Moulin Rouge! The Musical lighting design, which also earned him Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. Over a 25-year career, Townsend has also earned Tony nominations designing American Psycho and The Humans, with additional Broadway credits including Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Other Place, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, A Night With Janis Joplin, Casa Valentina, Fool For Love, Present Laughter, The Little Foxes, Saint Joan, The Nap, and Jagged Little Pill. Off-Broadway, Townsend won a Drama Desk Award for The Public's Here Lies Love, also designing productions with Manhattan Theatre Club, The Civilians, Playwrights Horizons, Shakespeare in the Park, Signature Theatre, and Classic Stage Company.
Townsend also has spent 15 years teaching design to both undergraduate- and graduate-level students, and has served as a guest artist at educational theatres across the country.
Established in 1966, the Department of Design for Stage and Film has produced such alumni as Beowulf Boritt, Mark Bridges, Maria-Cristina Fusté, Molly Hughes, Mimi Lien, Bradley King, Clint Ramos, and Paul Tazewell, among many others.