After spending eighteen years working in a factory building ECUs (electronic control units) in the Midwest, she found herself pursuing an undergraduate degree in theatre design with a double minor in studio art and art history at Marquette University. And went on to earn an MFA in Theater Design at Yale School of Drama. She also studied folk art at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland and Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland.
Deb O's extensive scenography training and range of experiences as well as her background in folk art, dance and gymnastics, clowning and mask making, a bit of puppetry have all lent themselves to an innovative approaches to the creation of unique theatrical events. Deb O has enjoyed intimate, long-term collaborations with theater directors Brian Mertes, Tamilla Woodard, Jen Wineman, Jess K Smith, Alex Harvey, Stephen Brackett, GT Upchurch, Lee Sunday Evans of C Town, Mia Rovegno, Sarah Cameron Sunde and dance-theatre makers Tami Stronach Dance, Dan Safer of Witness Relocation, Sam Pinkleton, and Diane Vanderhei and Tom Thoreson of Footworks Dance Company. She has also designed numerous memorable special events.
With directors Brian Mertes and Melissa Kievman and The Lake Lucille Project, 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 7,000 square foot warehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn for an epic environmental staging of Lanford Wilson's Balm In Gilead.
She has designed a number of new works and new musicals. Such as The Lacy Project, Jihad the Musical, The Daughters, The Deepest Play Ever, F%#King Up Everything, Bubble Boy, Magical History Tour, Fable and The Material World (one of Time Out New York’s top 10 shows of 2012). Deb O was recently doing one of her favorite things aiding in the development of a new play called Light A Dark Comedy, a project for The New Victory Theater by Paper Canoe.
Deb O is member of the Wingspace Design Collective and co-artistic director of ARTBARN. She is on the Design Faculty of NYU Tisch's Playwrights Horizons Theater School, teaches collaboration for the Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA Program, and has given master classes at Fordham University, Marquette University, Fairmont University, Meredith College. She has sat on a USITT panel to speak about one of her favorite subjects Site Specific Theater. She 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 production of Enemy of the People in an abandoned grain factory in Red Hook was chosen as one of the best theater productions in New York. She is also a member of the Union Scenic Artist Union Local 829.
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