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Ohio Northern University alumna designs theater set for Dobama in Cleveland Heights

ImageJanuary—This past fall, Ohio Northern University Alumna Jill Davis (BFA ’94) designed the set for the drama “Time Stands Still,” a play that was on stage at the Dobama Theater in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

The play, written by the Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies, is set in Brooklyn and revolves around Sarah, a photo journalist who has returned from covering the Iraq war after being injured by a roadside bomb, and her reporter boyfriend James who is swamped by guilt after leaving Sarah alone in Iraq. They receive a visit from their friend Richard, a photo editor, who introduces them to his new girlfriend Mandy, who is much younger than he. The play focuses on their relationships and Sarah and James’ prospects at a more conventional life.

The Dobama presentation of “Time Stands Still” received great reviews, including Jill’s work as scenic designer. “The production was sensitive and flawless,” wrote Bob Abelman of the News-Herald in Cleveland. “The designers facilitated this process by creating an inviting upscale apartment in the close quarters of the Dobama floor space. The staging immediately brings audience members into the characters’ world and holds them there.”

As a scenic designer, that is always a goal for Jill. “The majority of my scenic designs have been with smaller stages in Cleveland,” explained Jill. “But, to me, the theater space is only a small part of the design. Every design should be unique to the play and the point of view established by the director and the design team. Working closely with this team to create a cohesive production is the most rewarding part of the design process.”

Jill is currently an assistant professor and the resident scenic and lighting designer in the Department of Theater at Case Western Reserve University. Prior to her appointment, she has over 12 years of experience in scenic design and scenic painting in professional theater. 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 eight years.

Before moving to Cleveland, Jill was 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.

She 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.

Jill received her MFA in scenic design from Temple University in 1999 and her BFA in fine arts from Ohio Northern in 1994.

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 2013–14 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.