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CCM alumna Isabella Byrd wins Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lighting Design

Byrd’s design for “Heroes of the Fourth Turning” was recognized in multiple 2020 theatre awards

Congratulations to UC College-Conservatory of Music alumna Isabella Byrd (BFA Lighting Design and Technology, ’09) on winning the 2020 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for her work on the world premiere of Heroes of the Fourth Turning.

New York-based, Off-Broadway theater Playwrights Horizons presented the world premiere of the play in fall 2019. Byrd’s lighting design for Heroes of the Fourth Turning was also nominated in the 2020 Drama Desk awards and was a named honoree at the 2020 Outer Critics Circle awards.

Written by Will Arbery and directed by Danya Taymor, Heroes of the Fourth Turning received three wins at the Lucille Lortel Awards including Outstanding Play, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play and Outstanding Lighting Design. The play focuses on four young conservatives who have returned home to celebrate the accomplishment of a mentor, but their reunion spirals into spiritual chaos and clashing generational politics. Playwrights Horizons describes the play: “On a chilly night in the middle of America, Will Arbery's haunting play offers grace and disarming clarity, speaking to the heart of a country at war with itself.”

Actors on stage on the set of an outside porch

Playwrights Horizons' production of "Heroes of the Fourth Turning." Photo by Sara Krulwich for the New York Times.

The play is set in a rural backyard in Wyoming, and has a darker lighting design than any other play Byrd has seen, according to her interview with City Theatrical. Byrd describes her lighting design for Heroes of the Fourth Turning as pushing the boundaries of darkness.

“Something that was really important to the playwright, Will Arbery, was seeing someone stand on the edge of dark, and almost disappear into it,” Byrd tells City Theatrical. “That relationship to the unknown beyond summoned an emotional space key to the play’s intention. It was exciting to have his trust in this lighting design.”

Byrd is a lighting designer based in Brooklyn, New York. Her design collaborations have been presented in New York City, across the U.S. and soon in the U.K. Her recent shows include Heroes of the Fourth Turning (Playwrights Horizons, New York), Sanctuary City (New York Theatre Workshop) and Daddy (New York; London – coming soon). Read more about her below.

She first dove into design at the High School of the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas before pursuing a BFA in Lighting Design from CCM’s Theatre Design and Production program.

“The theatre design program there is very robust and very hands on,” Byrd tells City Theatrical about her time at CCM. “I oddly knew I was committed to light at that time, and I was fortunate to build a large portfolio there.”

A headshot of Isabella Byrd

Isabella Bryd. Photo from Byrd's professional website (https://www.isabellabyrd.design).

Isabella Byrd is a lighting designer based in Brooklyn, New York. Her design collaborations have been presented in New York City, across the U.S, and soon in the U.K. 

With a special interest in developing new works and igniting classics, her practice pivots/activates/blooms around design dramaturgy, movement, and color composition. Her work investigates the human scale as neighbor to architecture, poetry and shadow play. The uncanny is among her current interests.

Recent recognition of her designs include the 2020 Lucille Lortel Award for Heroes of the Fourth Turning, as well as a 2019 Obie for her work on Light Shining in Buckinghamshire. She has received multiple Henry Hewes nominations, as well as a Drama Desk nomination.

Previously, Byrd was a contributor and producer at Chance Magazine.  Aside from curating content for the magazine, she was invited to lead a symposium and seminar at the 2015 Prague Quadrennial, exploring the fertile encounter of photography, theatrical design and thought artifacts.

Byrd was the Creative Producer for 13Playwright's archival website www.13p.org. In 2012, the Obie Award-winning downtown collective completed their producing mission and 'imploded' into the interactive digital time capsule.

Byrd is a proud member of USA-829, and interested in expanding her creative interactions to redefine the theatrical bubble.

Learn more on Byrd’s website.


Feature image at top: Playwrights Horizons production of Heroes of the Fourth Turning. Photo/Joan Marcus.