School of Drama students and faculty to be recognized at the 62nd Annual USITT Conference in Baltimore.


For four days in March, performing arts design and technology practitioners, educators, and students will come together in Baltimore for the 62nd annual United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Conference & Stage Expo. Back in person for the first time since 2019, the conference offers opportunities for education, hands-on activities, skill-building, and connection.


On the final evening of the conference, the USITT Awards will be presented. These awards honor the best entering the industry, support creative work, recognize lifetime achievement, and celebrate research.


Zhang Yu (MFA, ’22) is this year’s recipient of the Zelma H. Weisfeld Costume Design & Technology Award, and Sarah Bauch (MFA, ’22) will receive the USITT Stage Management Award. These awards are part of USITT’s YDMT Awards, bringing recognition to young designers, managers, and technicians at the beginning of their careers.


“An inventor/anthropologist/activist as much as designer, Zhang Yu is a truly singular artist who is ever curious, investigative, and inspiring,” said Susan Tsu, professor of costume design. “He is an uncommon, fascinating graduate costume designer possessing prodigious talent.”


Tina Shackleford, stage management professor, said of Bauch, “In her time at CMU, Sarah’s work has never been less than excellent. She has marvelous instincts for the entirety of a show, and she is a collaborator who uplifts everyone from the director to the members of the run crew, making them all feel supported and heard.”


Dick Block, professor of design and associate head of the School of Drama, will receive the Distinguished Achievement Award in Education. This award recognizes individuals who have established meritorious career records in specific fields of expertise in design or technology in the performing arts, and is one of the highest honors USITT bestows.


“We are tremendously proud of Dick and this wonderful, well-deserved recognition,” said Anne Mundell, interim head, School of Drama. “Dick is at the center of life in the School of Drama and has positively impacted generations of students who remember him with great appreciate and affection.”


In addition to the award-winners from the School of Drama, Grzegorz Labuda (MFA, ’23) has been selected for the Student Ambassador Program, which pairs three students with three international guests at the annual conference for the opportunity to meet and discuss working in theater abroad. Labuda – a graduate student costume designer/performer from Poland studying at Carnegie Mellon University on a Fulbright appointment – will be paired with Fruzsina Nagy, an internationally known Hungarian costume designer.


“Grzegorz Labuda is unstoppable,” said Tsu, “A member of the next generation of theatrical climate activists, his commitment to zero-waste in the theatre industry provides a much-needed voice in our profession that insists on a more sustainable future.”


The 2022 USITT Conference and Stage Expo takes place March 2–5 in Baltimore.