October 27, 2022

Joseph Rusnock, former longtime designer, technical director, mentor and tenured associate professor in the School of Performing Arts passed away the last week of October. Rusnock worked at UCF for 33 years, bringing the theatre programs’ productions to life through scenic and technical design while inspiring generations of students and designers before retiring in 2018.

Rusnock received an MFA in theatre design and technology from the University of Minnesota in 1975 and worked as a lighting, scenic and costume designer, properties master and technical director for productions at a variety of community theatres, festivals, performing arts companies and university theatre programs.

After joining UCF in 1985, Rusnock served as technical director for nine productions, and resident scenic and lighting designer for 78 productions, from Relatively Speaking in 1985 to his final production, Boy Gets Girl, in 2018. As a tenured associate professor of theatre, he taught classes ranging from Theatre Survey to Costume Design, Scene Design, Lighting Design, Script Analysis and more. He also served as artistic director and associate chair of Theatre UCF for several years. In both 2008 and 2010, Rusnock received an Excellence in Design Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Undergraduate acting coordinator Be Boyd, who worked with Rusnock, remembers him as a creative and caring colleague.

“Joseph Rusnock was a great and caring colleague. He was a terrifically creative designer,” Boyd says. “I had the pleasure of working with him on Deathtrap and West Side Story. Both were exceptional experiences.”

UCF honors Joseph Rusnock’s contributions to the School of Performing Arts as a creative designer, teacher and mentor of many. As a special tribute, Theatre UCF will have a display showcasing his work in the lobby of the UCF Black Box theatre during the run of As You Like It, Nov. 10 through 20.

Matt Palm, Orlando Sentinel’s arts writer and theater critic, discusses Rusnock’s contributions to UCF and generations of students in artistic fields of study.

Photo from Boy Gets Girl (2018) the last production Joseph Rusnock worked on as a designer for Theatre UCF.
Photo from Hedda Gabler (2017) the second to last production Joseph Rusnock worked on as a designer for Theatre UCF.