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Ohio Northern alumna designs sights to American Stage’s A Doll’s House

December—When 19th-century Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House in 1879, conventions and corsets bound most women to hearth and home. Yet the Danish playwright busted through those stodgy rules with his strong female character, Nora Helmer. Shocking though the play was at its premiere, it is now considered a classic.

During the holiday season, the American Stage Theatre Company in St. Petersburg, Florida presented the drama with an Ohio Northern connection. ONU graduate Jill Davis (BFA ’94) designed the stage set. The play opened Friday, Nov. 16 and ran through Dec. 23.

Jill said that the director wanted to maintain the integrity of Ibsen’s original intentions, setting the production in 19th century Denmark.

The drama begins on Christmas Eve and the days following, with the setting as the drawing room in the home of Nora and Torvald Helmer.

The play received great reviews, along with Jill’s work. Mark E. Leib of Creative Loafing in Tampa declared, “Top-notch also are Jill Davis’ beautiful living room set and Frank Chavez’s period costumes. Seth Gordon’s direction has the look and feel of the late 19th century…”

Jay Handelman of the Herald-Tribune, said, “The theater’s wide stage is beautifully designed and decorated by Jill Davis, with some nicely appointed furnishings that would suit a rising business, along with hints of the rest of the apartment building rising into the rafters.”

Jill is the resident scenic and lighting designer in the department of theater at Case Western Reserve University. Prior to her Case appointment, she was the charge scenic artist at The Cleveland Play House, in charge of painting the scenery for over 100 productions. Jill has also been the resident scenic designer for the Case-Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program for the past seven years.

With over 12 years of experience in scenic design and scenic painting in professional theater, Jill has been the charge scenic artist for Playmakers Repertory Theater. She has also been charge scenic artist for The Chautauqua Theater Company, Baystreet Theater in Sag Harbor, NY, The Weston Playhouse in Weston, VT, Summer Repertory Theater in Santa Rosa, CA, and The Bigfork Summer Theater in Bigfork, MT.  She was the assistant scenic artist at The Alley Theater in Houston, TX, and also worked as a freelance scenic designer and scenic artist in Philadelphia, New York and Houston.

Jill received her MFA in scenic design from Temple University in 1999 and her BFA in fine arts from Ohio Northern University in 1994.  Jill also was the scenic artist for the many Ohio Northern theater productions including Godspell, Pippin, Valguse Poik, Diary of Anne Frank, Six Women with Brain Death, Oklahoma!, Forever Plaid, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Nunsense, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, The King and I, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?,and Pump Boys and Dinettes.To see more of her work visit the website:

American Stage is Tampa Bay's best professional regional equity theatre. Founded in 1977, our mission is to create the most satisfying live theatre in the Tampa Bay area, accessible to all members of the community. The vision is to preserve the greatest human stories from our past, while creating the most defining stories and storytelling of our time. American Stage presents its Mainstage Series in the 182-seat Raymond James Theatre year round and the annual American Stage in the Park each Spring. The theatre’s other programming includes: “After Hours” Series, School Tour, and camps and classes for children.

Originally designated as the School of Fine Arts and later the College of Fine Arts, the art & design program was first established as an independent academic unit at Ohio Northern in 1878, largely as an outgrowth of course work in engineering and architectural drawing. Today, Ohio Northern offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensional, three-dimensional and pre-art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education, AIGA: The Professional Association for Design, and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second and third editions of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2012–13 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.