Ming Cho Lee, Fabled Set Designer, Is Useless at 90
His mother and father divorced, and he stayed together with his father, who moved his enterprise to British-ruled Hong Kong with the rise of Communism in China. In 1949 Mr. Lee went to the US for school, and stayed.
“I basically turned a refugee as a result of I had no place to return to,” he informed The Washington Submit in 2001. “Hong Kong at the moment was not a simple place to get again in.”
He enrolled at Occidental School in Los Angeles, however his English was nonetheless imperfect, giving him hassle in lecture lessons. So, having been portray since he was a younger teenager, he enrolled in “each drawing class I might get my arms on,” he informed The Occasions in 2014.
“I’d get A’s,” he stated, “which balanced the D’s I received in freshman English. They saved my life.”
After incomes a bachelor’s diploma in 1953 at Occidental and a short keep in graduate college on the College of California, Los Angeles, he moved to New York in 1954 and have become an assistant to Jo Mielziner, one of the vital prolific set designers in Broadway historical past. Lots of Mr. Lee’s early Broadway credit had been as Mr. Mielziner’s assistant. He additionally labored with Boris Aronson, one other prime stage designer.
Mr. Lee was principal designer for Papp’s New York Shakespeare Pageant from 1962 to 1973. His early work was performed earlier than physique microphones changed stationary ones, which meant that, as progressive as his designs for Papp typically had been, they began with a really mundane consideration.
“In designing for Shakespeare within the Park,” he as soon as stated, “the very first thing you do is work out the place to place the microphones. It was all very primitive. All of the staging was managed by the place you’re in relation to the mikes.”
A very placing effort from that interval was his set for the 1964 manufacturing of Sophocles’ “Electra” on the Delacorte Theater in Central Park: three stone sculptural partitions on a metallic framework. It was, he informed The Occasions in 2014, his first set with “a very nonliteral summary design, although on the similar time it was actual, an emblem, an icon.”
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