I’m sad to share the news that Lenore Doxsee, one of my oldest and dearest friends and a Studio T+L associate, passed away on Friday, May 19. It’s hard to say if Lenore was more of a theatre artist or a theatre teacher because she excelled at both, loved both, and wouldn’t give up either. In her last few weeks, she designed scenery and lighting for a 5-hour play in New York, and gave many additional hours of her time supporting and then critiquing her student’s final projects.
Lenore was a passionate, committed theatre artist who never lost sight of her own vision, even as she collaborated with a disparate group of directors and choreographers. She was the Associate Artistic Director and Resident Lighting Designer for Target Margin Theater. Their most recent production, Mourning Becomes Electra with scenery and lighting design by Lenore, closed the day after her death. A prolific designer, she worked on productions in many New York theaters, ranging from New York City Opera to La Mama, HERE Arts Center, Dance Theater Workshop, and The Kitchen. Regionally Lenore designed productions for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Glimmerglass Opera, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Boston Early Music Festival, Pittsburgh Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, and many others. Her designs for dance included collaborations with choreographers Jennifer Monson, Miguel Gutierrez, and Morgan Thorson. Lenore received two Bessie Awards for her work with Miguel Gutierrez and an Obie Award for Target Margin’s production of Mamba’s Daughters.
Lenore was Head of Lighting Design Training in the Production & Design Studio in the Department of Drama at NYU. Inspired by one of her mentors, Arden Fingerhut, Lenore was deeply committed to her students and their art. If any one of them was in technical rehearsal, odds were that Lenore was there, too, night after night observing, suggesting, critiquing. She always seemed to understand what her students needed to hear or learn, and guided them through their education and beyond with care and compassion.
At Studio T+L, Lenore collaborated on space planning, dimming and control systems, stage fixture inventories, and more for Elmwood Playhouse, Bristol Memorial Theatre Feasibility Study, and Levoy Theatre, among others.
As a friend, Lenore taught me that no dish can have too much garlic or olive oil, that Indian food is delicious, and that seeing bad theatre is better than seeing no theatre. We laughed through a preview of Dance of the Vampires, had dinner parties on her Brooklyn rooftop, and listened to favorite bands at downtown bars. For at least 15 years we’ve had “family dinner” on Sunday nights at a local bar with her husband, Paul Bartlett, and a rotating cast of friends. Lenore’s intellect, wit, and modesty were loved by everyone who knew her. She will be deeply missed, especially on Sunday nights.