Admiring the patience and ability to teach of her high school play director, Richard Hutchinson, Lyn Dutson was attracted to becoming a theater educator by her grandmother, who was one of the earlier female teachers in Pennsylvania, as well as her mother Ada, who taught her to sew at age 7. Somehow theater, costumes, history and direction all came together, which further sparked her interest. She enjoyed directing and has worked with hundreds of people. Ms. Dutson has been recognized as a professor emeritus of Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona since 2010, previously serving the college as a faculty member for 40 years. Prior to this tenure, she lectured at Arizona State University from 1967 to 1968.
Ms. Dutson’s responsibilities and course loads shifted depending on what institution, department or production she was working within at the time. For instance, she occasionally taught technical theater, which often varied in subject matter dealing with set design, lighting, production responsibility and more, as the case might be. Ms. Dutson has also taught theater history, acting, makeup, stage combat and speech, among other subjects.
Before commencing her professional career, Ms. Dutson pursued a formal education at Arizona State University in Tempe, where she attained a Bachelor of Arts in 1966 and a Master of Arts in 1969. In addition to these academic honors, she is a black belt through the Arizona Chuan Fa Society since 2009 and the Goju Shorei Weapons System since 2017. Ms. Dutson was at one time a certified actor and combatant through the Society of American Fight Directors.
In addition to being a faculty member and lecturer, Ms. Dutson has directed over 80 plays, as well as participated in the costume design for these and other plays. She also enjoyed acting in a murder mystery play, where she played the role of a playwright’s wife. She had to learn how to breathe while having “died” on stage, and she recalls causing concern among young audience members because of how convincing it was. Outside of her primary trade, Ms. Dutson maintains involvement with numerous organizations related to her field. Her affiliations include the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, the Costume Society of America, the Smithsonian Associates, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Common Cause and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The highlight of Ms. Dutson’s career was being nominated by Mesa Community College and being inducted into the Hall of Fame as one of the faculty members. She was also the recipient of the Arizona Theatre Alliance Award in the category of educator and educational theater program in 2000, the ariZoni Award for Costuming “The Miser” in 2002 and the Faculty Service Award from Mesa Community College in 2007. In 2008, she was awarded the Excellence in Theater Award by Region 8 at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival and the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award by the Maricopa Community College District. Furthermore, she was selected for inclusion in the 64th and 72nd editions of Who’s Who in America. Now in retirement, Ms. Dutson has been known to enjoy practicing martial arts such as karate, traveling and gardening, as well as reading various genres such as mysteries, biographies and autobiographies, romance novels, science and science fiction. She is the proud mother of one wonderful daughter, Cathryn L. Mallory.
One mentor who motivated and inspired Ms. Dutson was Joanne Griggs at Arizona State University. She worked with her for several years doing costuming in the university’s theater department. She would like to be remembered by her peers as someone who got the job done. She would also like to be recognized for her awards over time, her teaching and being a good teacher, her designing and her educational programs. The factors Ms. Dutson attributes to her success include working with the same people, who were extremely creative and very supportive on collaborative projects. She has a good imagination, and she is very stubborn and willing to work unbelievable hours with the support of her family. Her advice to people is to find a job that you enjoy and to have fun with the job you have.