Mimi Lien is a designer of sets/environments for theater, opera, and dance. Arriving at stage design from a background in architecture, her work often focuses on the interaction between audience/environment and object/performer. In 2015, she was named a MacArthur Fellow, and is the first stage designer ever to achieve this distinction.
Recent work includes Antony and Cleopatra, with director Elkhanah Pulitzer at San Francisco Opera (upcoming co-production with Metropolitan Opera) and In A Grove, with director Mary Birnbaum at Pittsburgh Opera (upcoming co-production with LA Opera). She collaborated with director Yuval Sharon on Die Zauberflöte at Staatsoper Berlin and Pelléas et Mélisande at Cleveland Orchestra. Her collaboration with director Alec Duffy on 4 Nights of Dream was presented at the Japan Society (NYC) and Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (Japan).
Selected stage designs for theater and music-theater include Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812 (Broadway), Moby-Dick (American Repertory Theater), Taylor Mac’s A 24 Decade History of Popular Music (St. Ann’s Warehouse & international tour), The Oldest Boy (Lincoln Center Theater), Fairview (Soho Rep), Black Mountain Songs (BAM). Her stage designs have been presented in New York and around the United States at Signature Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, the Public Theater, The Kitchen, Berkeley Rep, A.R.T., Mark Taper Forum, Wilma Theater, Longwharf Theatre, Goodman Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Alliance Theatre, Playmakers Rep, and Virginia Opera, among others.
Her designs for dance have been presented around the US at Lincoln Center, The Joyce, New York City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Jacob’s Pillow, and also internationally: Petrushka at Perm Opera and Ballet Theater (Russia), Robert Battle’s No Longer Silent at Introdans (Netherlands), and HORSE Dance Theater at the National Theater of Taiwan.
Mimi’s large-scale public artworks include PARADE, a conveyor-belt installation suspended below an expressway, commissioned by The Bentway in Toronto, Canada (2022); The GREEN, which transformed the main plaza at Lincoln Center into a grass covered public space for performance and leisure during Summer 2021; a building-wide installation for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts in 2011 (La Ville Radieuse), and 2016 (2x4 tree); Model Home, a performance installation in response to the housing crisis in San Diego, commissioned for the 2017 Without Walls Festival at the La Jolla Playhouse. Her stage design work was chosen to represent the United States in the Prague Quadrennial in 2012, and her sculpture work was featured in the exhibition, LANDSCAPES OF QUARANTINE, at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City.
Mimi received the 2017 Tony Award for her design of Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway. She is also the recipient of the Cullman Award for Extraordinary Creativity at Lincoln Center Theater, Bessie Award, Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award, American Theatre Wing Hewes Design Award, LA Drama Critics Circle Award, and an OBIE Award for sustained excellence. She studied Architecture at Yale University (B.A. 1997) and Stage Design at NYU (M.F.A. 2003).
Mimi is an Artist-in-Residence at the Park Avenue Armory, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and is a co-founder of the Brooklyn performance/art space, JACK.
Engagements in Bayreuth