For more than forty-five years, James Berton Harris was active in both academic and professional theatre. He was a member of the theatre faculty at the University of Michigan, Boston University and, for twenty-nine years, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. At Illinois, his administrative duties were as Associate Head of Theatre, as well as Director of the Division of Design, Technology, and Management. For eight years, he served as Producing Director of Summer Studio Theatre at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
Professionally, he has worked extensively as a costume designer having designed productions at such regional theatres as Alaska Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Trinity Repertory Company, and the Utah Shakespearean Festival.
His New York credits include productions at LaMama ETC, Circle Repertory Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. For his work on Broadway, he received a New York Drama Critics nomination for Best Costume Design.
Since retiring from the University of Illinois in 2007 he has been living in Ann Arbor, Michigan but was invited back to Illinois to design costumes for Lost Lake directed by Daniel Sullivan, and was commissioned by the Calumet Theatre in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to adapt an existing play for production at that theatre to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1913-14 copper miners’ strike. His most recent writing project, a book entitled Once Upon a Time at the Opera House, Drama at Three Historic Michigan Theaters is schxeduled for publication in 2018.
He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale University School of Drama. His biography has appeared in Who’s Who in American Costume Design and Who’s Who in Fine Arts Higher Education.