After spending eighteen years working in a factory making ECUs (electronic control units) in Wisconsin, Deb O decided to go to Marquette University where she received her undergraduate degree in theatre design with a minor in studio art and art history. She then went on to receive her MFA in Theatre Design at Yale School of Drama. Deb O has also studied at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland and Copernicus University in Torun, Poland as a non-traditional student.
Deb O's extensive scenography training and range of experiences as well as her background in folk art, dance and gymnastics, clowning, puppetry and mask making have lent themselves to innovative approaches to the creation of unique theatrical events. Deb has enjoyed collaborations with theater directors Tamilla Woodard, Katie Pearl, Brian Mertes, Alex Harvey, Curt Columbus, Stephen Brackett, Melissa Kievman, Lee Sunday Evans, Mia Rovegno, Jen Wineman and dance-theatre makers Dan Safer of Witness Relocation, Tami Stronach Dance, Sam Pinkleton, Meredith McDonough. She has also designed numerous, memorable special events and weddings.
Her site-specific work has had rave reviews. She has worked with Falconworks, Quantum Theater, PopUp Theatrics, En Garde Arts, and Paper Canoe in such places like a bridge, on the streets of lower Manhattan, abandon warehouses, abandon grain factory, a parking garage, abandon gym, a bank, and a library to name a few.
With director Brian Mertes and The Lake Lucille Project, since 2007 Deb O has devised and created large-scale, environmental designs for day long performances of each of Chekhov's great works. With playwright/producer Beau Willimon and directors Brian Mertes and Alex Harvey, the project moved to a giant warehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn for an epic environmental staging of Lanford Wilson's Balm In Gilead. In the summer of 2014 the Lake Lucille Company embarked on the making of a film I Am A Seagull, in which Deb O was the production designer. In the summer of 2018 Deb O will be creating the environment for the next project The Cherry Orchard.
She has designed a number of new works and new musicals. Such as Lacy Project, Jihad the Musical, The Daughters, The Deepest Play Ever, F%#king Up Everything, Bubble Boy, Fable, Magical History Tour, Light A Dark Comedy, A Socks Fables, Red Hills, Selkie, Thieves and The Material World. In Time Out New York The Material World was chosen to be one of the top 10 shows of 2012. She has been in the rehearsal room helping develop a new play titled Light: A Dark Comedy. This new project was work shopped at the New Victory.
Deb O is a founding member and co-director of Artbarn, from 2013 to 2017. Artbarn is a collective of innovative artists from across disciplines and around the country who gather for an annual residency to collaboratively generate original site-specific work. The first three new works; Home Stretch, This is a Ghost House, The Circle were all produced in various turn of the century buildings on the Byrdcliff estate near Woodstock, NY. In 2016 Artbarn collaborated with Satori Group in Seattle, Washington at the Georgetown Steam Plant to produce a new works called We Remain Prepared. They would work on a project for a year of bi-coastal devising, which will culminate in an intensive residency in which company would live and work together.
Deb O is a member of the Wingspace design collective. She teaches design at NYU's Tisch -- Playwrights Horizons Theater School. In the fall of 2016 she taught a site-specific class at University of Puget Sound. From 2014 -2016 she taught a collaboration class to the MFA directors at Brown University in Rhode Island. She has given master classes at Marquette, Fairmont University, Meredith College and the Met. In 2016 she was invited to USITT to speak about site-specific theater. Deb O is a recipient of Yale's Jay and Rhonda Keene Award, has been featured twice at the Prague Quadrennial, and has received numerous American College Theater Festival Awards including Best Designer of the Year. In 2013 her site-specific piece in Red Hook, NY at an abandon grain factory’s was chosen as one of the 10 best theater productions in New York. She is also a member of the Union Scenic Artist Union Local 829.
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