Donald Oenslager

Donald Oenslager

Donald Oenslager (March 7, 1902 - June 11, 1975) was a celebrated American scenic designer who won the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design.



Oenslager was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and became interested in design while studying in Europe. His first work as designer was for the ballet "Sooner or Later" in 1925. He had started as an actor in the 1920s at the Greenwich Village Theatre and the Harrisburg Playhouse.[1]

He designed sets and often lighting for more than 140 Broadway productions between 1925 and 1975. In 1959 he was awarded the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design for his work on Leonard Spigelgass's play A Majority of One. He had received a Tony nomination two years earlier for his work on the play Major Barbara.

He taught scenic design at the Yale School of Drama for many years [1] and the institution continues to award an annual scholarship for stage design in his name. Among his notable pupils were John Lee Beatty.

A number of his scenic design sketches are part of the permanent collection at the Museum of the City of New York. The Museum had an exhibition of his designs in 2008.[2]

He brought "a new emphasis on symbolism over realism to American theater design."[1]

Works (selected)


  1. ^ a b c Donald Oenslager papers and designs, 1922-1982 Billy Rose Theatre Collection,, retrieved March 5, 2010
  2. ^ Setting the Stage: Scenic Designs by Donald Oenslager Museum of the City of New York, retrieved March 5, 2010

External links

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