Cover photo for Darwin  Reid Payne's Obituary
Darwin  Reid Payne Profile Photo
1931 Darwin 2016

Darwin Reid Payne

July 10, 1931 — July 30, 2016

Carbondale - Scenographer, director, author, teacher, and artist Darwin Reid Payne died at 5:00 a.m. on July 30, 2016, at his home in Carbondale [Illinois]. He was born in Carbondale on July 10, 1931, and except for a few years’ living in other cities, he was content to live and work close to his birthplace.

Payne attended Southern Illinois University, receiving his B.S. in Fine Arts in 1953. Encouraged by Archibald McLeod, chairman of the university’s theater department, he completed graduate studies in the theater program with an M.A. in 1954. After service in the U.S. Army, he was hired at SIU-Carbondale and worked with noted Broadway designer Mordecai Gorelik, who was then the department’s Distinguished Research Professor. He continued to teach at the university throughout the 1960’s and at the same time was engaged as a freelance designer for a variety of theater companies in the United States.

During leaves from SIU, he served as artistic director at the University of British Columbia and served as assistant to the art director of CBS-TV in New York. He achieved membership in United Scenic Artists. Although his design career flourished, he returned to SIU-C, rising to full professor and department chair.

Following his retirement in 1983, he became Resident Visiting Scene Designer at Wake Forest

University in North Carolina until retiring from teaching in 2001. He returned to his alma mater in Carbondale, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate.

During his career, Payne designed and/or directed over 400 productions while teaching many students, any number of whom went on to have distinguished careers of their own as theatre artists in both professional and academic spheres.

Darwin Payne reached an even greater audience through his published books on design. As he developed his own unique artistic style, he wrote such works as Design for the Stage and The Scenographic Imagination. His Theories and Craft of the Scenographic Model still commands the field. Computer Scenographics reflects his expertise in the computer design processes.

In addition, he wrote successful dramatic adaptations of The Canterville Ghost and The

Christmas Carol, co-authored The Strolling Players, and co-edited Six Plays for Children.

Numerous national awards were given Payne in recognition of his accomplishments and his contribution to theatrical design and education, as well as an Illinois Theater Association Award of Excellence.

Payne donated his papers and his design collection to the Southern Illinois University Library

Archives as well as works to the University Museum. In 2013, the museum mounted a retrospective exhibition of his designs and oil paintings.

Darwin Payne is survived by his prolific work in design, oil paintings, and bronze work; his lovingly tended garden; and the rich memories of his students, colleagues and friends.

Plans for a simple remembrance gathering at the Theater Department will be announced later.

Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale is assisting the family with arrangements. To share a special story or memory of Darwin, please visit,

To order memorial trees in memory of Darwin Reid Payne, please visit our tree store.


Photo Gallery

Visits: 25

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree

Send With Love

Send With Love