Terry Stump

Inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame, August 12, 2007.

It's been 30 years since Terry Stump completed his education at Wright State University and hit the ground running. He estimates that he has designed scenery or lights for over 300 productions. That's an average of 10 a year, one every 5-6 weeks. And I doubt that he was able to turn those designs over to another team to execute more than half of those. Most of his designs were either executed in a shop where he was the technical director in charge of the execution or under his direct supervision.

As a director working with Terry as a designer, you can rest assured that his designs can be realized, he knows how to execute. He takes collaboration very seriously. Often times, when I have sat with him at first design meeting – nothing on the paper, just a pencil and an open mind. How many doors do you need? Do you want a sofa? What if we...and before we leave, we have a preliminary floor plan which rarely changes. No struggling, no territories, no self-service. He's a dream designer.

And we've seen that dream all over Dayton. For the Human Race, he's designed at the Loft (Other People's Money – the first show in the new theatre in 1991), at the Victoria and at The Muse Space in The Biltmore Hotel (Fool for Love – where his responsibilities included escorting a tequila drenched director safely home after opening night). He's designed for CATCo in Columbus, Weathervane Playhouse, The Taft Theatre in Cincinnati, Clark State, Wright State, The Muse Machine and The Dayton Playhouse.

He's won DayTonys and Kennedy Center ACTF Meritorious Achievement Awards for his designs and was awarded the Sinclair Visionary Award. And he's listed in the Who's Who in Entertainment, second edition. And he's got a great laugh.

But Dayton has a number of great designers who were not nominated for this honor. Why does Terry rise above?

For a long time Terry was the TD, the designer, the production manager, the janitor, (I think he even created the recipe for the Sweet Potato Puff on the buffet line) at La Comedia Dinner Theatre. Now there's a design challenge, create a set that can be completely removed and then replaced in front of the audience in 15 minutes. He was responsible for everything, it seemed, especially once the original producer left, and the new guy was from Wisconsin, more and more seemed to fall in Terry's lap. Often hiring persons with little professional backgrounds, Terry turned them into professionals. His calling was already starting. He may have been called Vice President of Programming, but he was creating a legacy.

When Terry decided to have a family, he embraced that with the same verve he built his sets. I stand in tribute to the dedication he has shown Darlene and his family.

I was sorrowful when he traveled to Cincinnati to serve as chair of the technical theatre program at the Cincinnati School for the Creative and Performing Arts. For a time, Dayton was not able to fully use his talents. Good for him, good for Cincinnati. The best I can be say about that absence was the joy of his return to Sinclair in 1995.

For the last 12 years, Sinclair has benefited from his talents both as a designer and more importantly as an educator, both in and out of the classroom. He has set a high standard for the technicians in his program and we have all benefited from his work. His students are reliable, well trained and understand the responsibilities working in the theatre, or they don't get his recommendation.

Terry embraces academic responsibilities – OK maybe that's a bit exaggerated – not embrace...Grabs hold,...Ok, he does it and he doesn't complain much. He has taken on regional ACTF committee work as well as establishing the protocol for nominating people for this award. In fact we had to wait for him to get off the committee to nominate him.

That a 2 year college received the golden handtruck award at the regional ACTF festival may not seem like much to the public, to those who know how difficult it is to win, we know how proud Dayton should be of these students and they wouldn't have won it without the golden standards set by Terry Stump. To understand these standards, you need merely read his teaching philosophy.

To summarize:
Art relies on process
Art in practiced in the soul
Teaching is mentoring

-- Marsha Hanna
Artistic Director, The Human Race Theatre Company


I want to tell you three quick stories about Terry Stump. The first happened when Terry was being interviewed for the job he now holds. On that day he was first interviewed by the members of the dept. and then by the Dean. Lastly he was required to teach a class to all of us. He taught a class on electricity. At the end of the class he reached into his brief case and pulled out a multiple choice test which he gave to us. As I was taking the exam, people in the room began laughing. I said," What is going on?" I came to learn that the answers to the questions on the test spelled out "Hire me."

The second incident concerns the set for Lion in Winter. Terry and I had been talking about the show at some length. We had both researched the period and had looked at pictures of the castle Chinon. I was envisioning arches and columns of the eleventh century. Terry had done a number of sketches but none had really gotten me excited. One day at lunch, we were talking about the show and in that conversation I said to Terry that the show was like a chess game. We have all of these people of power trying to gain more power or control those around them. Terry said to me, "That's it!" "What's it?" I asked. He said that we should build a huge multi level chess board for the set. He did. It started about four feet high way up stage and cascaded down into the house so that I could use house entrances and exits. It was truly a great design concept and execution.

The last story about Terry I wish to tell concerns The Tempest. For that show Terry had designed a huge ship that litterally rolled down stage and while in the storm gradually came apart and became the environment for the rest of the play. Well, things had not been going well in rehearsal for that opening storm and the movement of the ship. I therefore had decided that on this particular evenings rehearsal I was going to run that scene multiple times to get the timing down. As I walked into rehearsal, Terry grabbed me at the door and said that he had been working the crew most of the day and that they now had things down pretty well. He asked me to sit down and they would do it for me. So I sat in the last row of the theatre and the house lights went out. The stage lights came up, the music started and the storm went into full rage. Explosions were going off,the ships mast collapsed, the sides of the ship crashed down and all of a sudden it started to rain in the theatre...right on me! I said, "What the..." and I turned around to find my friend Terry standing behind me with a spray bottle soaking me.

So, that is Terry Stump. A very witty human being,a creative designer,and a person with a super sense of humor. I truly believe that he is much deserving of this induction into The Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame.

--Bob MacClennan


I started my "career" in theatre 30 years ago this summer, but have been involved in the art of theatre since the late 1960's.

So I'm sitting here tonight and I realize the collective works of everyone in this room who have so much talent, dedication and many more years in the theatre than I have and I think, oh yeah, Greg is going to call my name and he is going to say, "Terry Stump, I'm sorry I'm going to have to ask you to leave, because you're not worthy of this honor."

The day I was notified of this honor I went home and I told my wife I'm being inducted into the Hall of Fame. She said: "You've reached the pinnacle of your career, now it's all downhill." Thank you…Honey!

I feel lucky to work in this business because there's a new challenge everyday. Where else do you get to blow up a ship in The Tempest, create a lily pad sofa with a cricket coffee table and lighting bug floor lamp for Time Flies, squeeze actors into urns or flush them down a toilet, play with cool toys for lighting and smoke effects, and get paid for doing what you love! A business that gives you an opportunity to work with people like Tony nominee actor/director/choreographer Obba Babatunde or Tony award winning designer John Lee Beatty. But it's also so incredibly gratifying to teach students not only to use hand tools, but their minds and imaginations and to watch them create a life size horse out of Styrofoam. Or see them succeed in the business to become an assistant technical director for the Chicago Shakespeare Company or a stage manager for Cirque Du Soleil.

I'm so grateful to be here…but I can tell you the reasons why I am here. Madonna Goss, choir teacher at Fairmont East HS who gave me my first theatrical experience. My mother, even though she wanted me to be a marketing major, supported my choice to get a degree in theatre. Paul F. Wonsek, Jr., my college mentor who taught me the art of theatre. Joe Mitchell, original owner/builder of La Comedia Dinner Theatre who took a chance on a young kid and taught me the business of theatre. The Human Race Theatre Company during the early years at the Biltmore who inspired my creativity in theatre. Robert "Mac" MacClennan former chair of Sinclair Theatre who taught me theatre is truly a collaborative art. All my colleagues and especially my students who have taught me you are never too old to learn about theatre. And finally my lovely wife Darlene, my girls, Jill & Jody and my grandson Jordan who allowed me to sacrifice family time to fulfill my passion for theatre. I love you all.

I am very proud and very honored to live and work in this community among you splendid people. Thank you for giving me an indescribable feeling. I wish it for all of you.

--Terry Stump