Jennifer Tipton is the lighting designer for Alley Theatre’s production of Anton Chekhov’s Little Comedies. She previously designed for the Alley production of A Moon for the Misbegotten (2007).
Tipton is well-known for her lighting for theatre, opera, and dance. She has designed lighting for numerous dance performances for such companies as the New York City Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, Twyla Tharp Dance, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and for theatrical productions at such venues as St. Ann’s Warehouse, the Public Theatre, and the Metropolitan Opera, among many others. Her recent work in theatre includes Pictures from Home on Broadway, To Kill A Mockingbird (Tony® nomination) on tour, Beckett’s First Love for Zoom, and all of Richard Nelson’s Rhinebeck plays. Her recent work in opera includes Ricky Ian Gordon’s Intimate Apparel (Drama Desk Award nomination) with libretto by Lynne Nottage, based on her play by the same name, at the Lincoln Center Mitzi Newhouse Theater. Her recent work in dance includes Amy Hall Warner’s Somewhere in the Middle and Lauren Lovette’s Dreamachine, both for the Paul Taylor Company. Recently, Tipton created her own installation at the Baryshnikov Art Center, Our Days And Night.
Among many awards, Tipton has received the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2001), the Jerome Robbins Prize (2003), and in 2008 she was awarded the USA “Gracie” Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship. Tipton received Tony Awards® in 1977 for The Cherry Orchard and in 1989 for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, and she has received Tony® nominations for To Kill A Mockingbird, A Doll’s House, Part 2, The Testament of Mary, La Bête, and Sophisticated Ladies. She received Drama Desk Awards in 1977 for The Cherry Orchard and for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, and in 1989 for Waiting for Godot, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night. She has received Drama Desk Award nominations for Intimate Apparel, Worstward Ho, Hamlet, and Whoopi Goldberg’s 1984 solo show at the Lyceum Theatre.
Tipton’s distinctive designs have redefined the relationship between lighting and performance. She has been an important presence throughout her prolific career in dance, drama, and opera productions of all scales, and is regarded as one of the most versatile designers working today. Best known for her work in dance, Tipton’s painterly lighting evokes mood, and defines and sculpts movement. Preferring a small but powerful palette of colors, she pioneered the use of white light in theatre and dance. In Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room (1986) and Fait Accompli (1983), for instance, her strategic placement of white lights coupled with manufactured fog allowed dancers to enter and exit the performance space from upstage rather than the wings. They materialize, seemingly out of nowhere, only to disappear into a void, thereby reinforcing the progression of the dance as it advances and recedes, explodes and implodes. For both small theatre and Broadway productions, Tipton’s artistry interacts intimately with the work’s physical appearance and emotional resonance. Her subtle, shifting lighting for the Alley’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten (2007) gave visual support to the play’s delicate balance between vitality and deep sadness; in the final scene, the cleansing warmth of approaching dawn affirms the sense of peace and forgiveness finally achieved by the protagonists.
Jennifer Tipton received a B.A. from Cornell University (1958). Since 1994, she has served as an adjunct professor of lighting design at the Yale University School of Drama. As a committed teacher, Tipton has influenced a generation of lighting designers, and her dramatic imagination continues to push the visual boundaries of lighting design in new and exciting directions.