Jules Fisher, the Tony-Award winning lighting designer and 2009 recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award in Lighting Design from the United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT), is the subject of a new monograph published by USITT. The Designs of Jules Fisher by Delbert Unruh is the fifth in a series of works on living designers produced by USITT. Fisher spoke about his work and signed copies of the book, which highlights the achievements of an almost 50 year career, at the USITT Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio where the book was launched.
Fisher has been celebrated by his colleagues for his innovative and technologically inventive solutions – some of which involved creating new technologies to achieve specific artistic effects. He has lit Broadway, off-Broadway, film, television and concert events, and has been honored with eight Tony Awards (and 12 more nominations), seven Drama Desk Awards, and an Emmy Award nomination for lighting the celebration of President Clinton's inauguration in 1993. He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2006, received the USITT Award in 1995, the Illuminating Engineering Society's Lighting Design Award in 1978 for Dancin', and the Henry Hewes Design Award in 1996 for Bring in 'Da Noise Bring in 'Da Funk.
Beginning with a fascination with magic that started when he was eight years old, Fisher began to explore how the qualities of light can transform stage and screen. Unruh’s book chronicles Mr. Fisher’s early career, initial breaks, mentors, as well as collaborations with a wide range of theatre and rock legends, including Bob Fosse, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Robbins, Tommy Tune, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand and Elaine Stritch, among others. Most recently, he contributed to the televised broadcast of the 2008 Academy Awards. He remains an active amateur magician.
Reflecting on the relationship between magic and theatre, he wrote:
“The magician sets out to entertain and awe by essentially fooling you with an effect, a trick or an illusion that belies common sense, reason, logic or the dynamics of the physical world. But there is a different kind of magic in the theatre. The theatrical lighting designer has a different intention: to penetrate the mind, heart and soul of the audience, to make them feel joy, love, danger, fear, conflict, excitement, dawn to dusk. If the magician wants you to witness the impossible, the theatre magician wants you to believe the possible. This is the magic of theatrical lighting.”
A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Fisher is the founder of three successful design practices, Fisher Marantz Stone Partners, which specializes in architectural lighting; Fisher Dachs Associates, Theatre Planning and Design, and Third Eye Ltd., Entertainment Lighting with Peggy Eisenhauer. All three firms work internationally. Mr. Fisher is married to director and choreographer Graciela Daniele.
Del Unruh, a Professor of theatre and film at the University of Kansas, is the author of two previous USITT monographs, The Designs of Ming Cho Lee and The Designs of Tharon Musser. He is a contributing editor of TD&T, Theatre Design & Technology, USITT’s quarterly journal.
The Designs of Jules Fisher is published by USITT in collaboration with Broadway Press, Inc. For more information on how to purchase the book, or any others in the series, please visit www.usitt.org or www.broadwaypress.com.