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UNT Insider | January 2007 Issue | Faculty Focus

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UNT professor wins Golden Pen Award from national theatre institute

From a UNT News Service press release

Andrew B. Harris

Other Kudos

Scenes from a play written by Andrew B. Harris, professor of theatre, will be presented at the Rose Theatre, the oldest playhouse in London.

The honor makes him the only living playwright to have his work seen at the Rose in 400 years.

Harris also currently is directing Always, Patsy Cline, presented by the McKinney Repertory Theatre in Texas.

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Andrew B. Harris, a theatre professor at UNT, will receive the 2007 Golden Pen Award from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology for his book, The Performing Set: The Broadway Designs of William and Jean Eckart, published by UNT Press.

The institute gives the award annually to the author of an outstanding publication in the field of design and production for the performing arts. Dr. Harris will receive the award at the institute’s Annual Conference and Stage Expo in March in Phoenix. He also will autograph copies of the book and present a conference session on the Eckarts' work.

"There is no higher honor for a theatre book than the institute’s Golden Pen Award," Dr. Harris says. "It confers an honor not only on The Performing Set, but also on William and Jean Eckart, the subjects of my book, whose contributions to stage and costume design might otherwise have been forgotten."

Dr. Harris' book, published earlier this year and now in its second printing, explores the innovative work of the Eckarts, a husband-and-wife team that revolutionized Broadway musicals. The Eckarts' set designs flowed with the action of the play by moving and changing in front of the audience.

The book contains more than 500 full-color illustrations, including production stills and the Eckarts' artistic renderings. Some of the Eckarts’ most famous sets include those for Damn Yankees in 1955; Once Upon a Mattress, in which Carol Burnett had her first big role in 1959; the live television production of Cinderella, featuring Julie Andrews, in 1957; and Mame, starring Angela Lansbury, in 1966.

"I am pleased that [the institute] has chosen Andy Harris’s book for this honor. It confirms the high quality of the writing and production that went into 'The Performing Set,'" says Ron Chrisman, director of UNT Press.

Dr. Harris and the Eckarts met in 1985 when Dr. Harris served as chairman of the Southern Methodist University theatre department and the Eckarts were teaching theatre design there. Dr. Harris began working on the book in 1995, two years after Jean Eckart’s death in 1993, and continued his research after Bill Eckart’s death in 2000 by using documents from the Eckart Collection.

Dr. Harris, who joined UNT in 2002, has served as chair of theatre departments at Columbia University, SMU and Texas Christian University. His production credits include shows in Chicago, New York and Texas, including The Life of Galileo with Laurence Luckinbill and Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer. He also wrote Broadway Theatre, which won the Broadway Theatre Institute Award for Excellence in Education.

The institute is an association of more than 3,600 design, production and technology professionals in the performing arts and entertainment industry with members from the United States, Canada and 40 other countries. The institute’s Golden Pen Award is integral to the institute’s mission to recognize excellence and significant contributions in the performing arts and entertainment industry.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108
Contact: Ellen Rossetti (940) 369-7912

Read other stories in this issue:
January 2007

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