The Northwestern State University Theatre-Dance Scene Shop in the A.A. Fredericks Fine Arts Building will be named the Phil Kidd Scene Shop to honor the long-time assistant professor and director of technical theatre. The proposal to name the facility was approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.
Kidd was a member of NSU’s theatre and dance faculty for 18 years and designed sets for more than 30 theatre and dance productions. He was also technical director for numerous programs and productions held in theatre and dance facilities. Kidd retired in 2020 and passed away in February 2021. He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served with distinction in Vietnam.
Kidd’s colleagues said his personal qualities and professionalism will impact the Department of Theatre and Dance and its students and alumni for years to come.
“He was patient, kind, tough, tireless, passionate, demanding, inspiring and protective. He brought out the best in his students and gave them the courage to risk and to fail and to try again,” said Scott Burrell, director of the Mrs. H.D. Dear and Alice E. Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts. “He was an extraordinary teacher and mentor and many who studied with him have become professionals in the world of technical theater and design. Others pursued careers in teaching and are often inspired by the lessons learned in Phil’s scene shop.”
Brett Garfinkel, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, said the recent approval of a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Production and Design emphasizes Kidd’s impact.
“Phil Kidd was a master artist with creativity oozing out of every pore of his being. His ability to make this come to life added amazing designs to every production helped create,” said Garfinkel. “With the approval of the BFA in Production & Design it is now more important than ever to recognize the impact his teaching career has had on the students of NSU. The Phil Kidd Scene shop will memorialize him in the department where he spent so much of his free time working, mentoring and supporting our students.”
One of those professionals influenced by Kidd was Robert Richoux, who graduated from NSU and immediately started in a lead position at one of the largest Shakespeare companies in the country. Richoux went to graduate school at Florida State University, then to New York to work on Broadway, off-Broadway and in regional theatre before returning to the university where he is technical director, assistant professor of theatre technology and assistant facilities manager.
“Phil was a great educator and person,” said Richoux. “He was able to work with and connect with students and make them feel like colleagues, but quickly students, myself included, realized he was miles ahead of us in knowledge which kept us coming back to the shop, wanting to learn more from him. He had a way about challenging students to rise to the occasion and success in those instances with a ‘good job’ from Phil made it all worth it.”
Richoux admits “I owe most of my career to Phil.”
“Phil is the person who brought me back to NSU to work alongside him,” said Richoux. “He knew that when NSU hired me, I would be his replacement, but anyone that was a student of Phil’s knows he can never be replaced at NSU, and the best I can do is merely continue to make Phil proud.”
Richoux said when Kidd retired, the Department of Theatre and Dance gathered comments from former students and colleagues to let Kidd know how people felt about him.
“We quickly got 150 responses of people wanting to share their memories and inside jokes with him,” said Richoux. “He impacted the lives of so many in 20 years at NSU and those who had the joy of working with him will remember his common sayings and lessons fondly.”
A scholarship has been established at the NSU Foundation in Kidd’s memory. Kidd’s family donated his artwork and a recent auction was held to raise funds to endow the scholarship. According to Richoux, there are still about 200 available drafts, sketches, doodles, projects from his art classes and even some finished renderings still available. Keepsakes from some of the more popular pieces will be created to raise additional funds. Those interested in purchasing artwork can contact Richoux at email@example.com.
Donations can be made to the Phil Kidd Scholarship at www.northwesternstatealumni.com and designate the gift for the Phil Kidd Scholarship.