Denison Names Turnbull as New Holder of Reynolds Chair in Theatre
Date of Event: June 6, 2008
Posted: June 1, 2008 / Last Updated: September 23, 2008
Associate Professor Cynthia A. Turnbull has been named as the second holder of the Jonathon R. Reynolds Distinguished Chair in Theatre at Denison University. Established in 1994 with a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Jonathan R. Reynolds Chair in Theatre recognizes the power of the arts and humanities, especially as they come together in theatre. The chair honors Jonathan R. Reynolds, 1965 Denison alumnus and prominent author and playwright.
In presenting the award, University President Dale T. Knobel told Turnbull, “As a gifted artist and costume designer, and as an effective classroom teacher, you have graced many theatre productions with your masterfully executed designs, and you have passed on your knowledge and talents to countless students who have greatly appreciated and benefited from your artistic sensibilities, your patience, and your personal mentoring.”
The holder of the chair is selected based on unswerving commitment to teaching, a demonstrated desire to work closely with students, and evidence of contributions to the field through scholarship or production and direction. The chair honors Jonathan R. Reynolds, a 1965 Denison graduate and successful playwright and screenwriter.
Turnbull, who joined the Denison faculty in 1996, is chair of the theatre department and is a recognized costume designer. Among her productions at Denison are “The Romeo and Juliet Project,” “Ubu the King,” “Hamlet,” “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” “Taming of the Shrew” (in collaboration with visiting Fulbright Scholar Tracy Chung—in Jingju style), “Hayfever,” “Into the Woods,” “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” “City of Angels,” “Noises Off,” “Picnic,” and “The House of Bernarda Alba,” for which she was awarded the Honor of Distinction for Costume Design by the Ohio Section of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT). She also won an award of distinction from USITT for “The Death of Ivan Ilych.”
Turnbull also has experience in scenic and lighting design and has worked on costumes for NBC, Orion Pictures, PBS “American Playhouse,” The Ohio State University Opera Theatre, Contemporary American Theatre Company (Columbus), the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Zilker Park Summer Musical in Austin, Texas, and the New York International Fringe Festival. In December she completed work on a short film, “The Horseman,” produced by Room101 Productions, due for release in October 2008.
“I have always been fascinated by clothing, history and other cultures,” says Turnbull. “I thought a perfect career would be in anthropology, but during college, I found another area that combined these interests—costume design.”
Turnbull has designed 112 shows and says that she likes to combine textures and patterns within one costume so that it appears more interesting and less flat-looking under stage lighting. “I must delve into the fashion and culture of history in order to communicate information about the play and the world of the play to the audience. The blending of historical accuracy, the representation of the characters and a concept idea must form a basis to clue the audience about the characters and the historical period.” Often her choices must relate to the conceptual choices of the director and other members of the production team while also meeting the challenges of time, labor and budget.
Turnbull is the author of “Foam Jester Shoes,” published by the USITT and “Fabric Modification of Lucy Barton,” published in Costumer’s Research Journal, fall 2001. She has given a number of presentations at both USITT and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education annual conferences and has been an exhibitor in the USITT juried technical expo and design exhibitions. Twice she has been a nominee for best costume design at the Austin Critic’s Circle competition and in the B. Iden Payne award competition. In June 2007 her innovative Tyvek costumes for Denison’s production of “Ubu the King” were worn in the opening ceremony of the Prague Quadrennial 11th International Exhibition of Scenography and Theatre Architecture in Prague, Hungary.
A graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University, Turnbull earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Texas at Austin. During her undergraduate years, she earned NWU’s Theatre Achievement and Outstanding Plainsman Player awards. She previously has served on the faculties at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas, and at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
In addition to the endowed chair in theatre, the Reynolds Foundation gift created a summer creative writing program aimed at discovering and improving high-school creative writing talent and an endowed playwright-in-residence program, which was established to preserve and enhance the distinguished heritage of theatre at Denison. Jon Farris held the Reynolds Chair until his retirement in 2004.
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Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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