I was browsing through Scene Design in American Theatre from 1915 to 1960 by Orville Kurth Larson and something caught my eye – a woman technical director. The author names Carolyn Hancock as the Theatre Guild’s technical director. It also notes that she married Less Simonson.
The book has a variety of other interesting points (I am sure there are many more that I am skipping in my brief browsing of the book:
•In 1924 the scenic artist union starting requiring designers to become a member. This requirement doesn’t seem to prevent crossover between building the productions and designing them (or even directing them).
•The book introduces Cleon Throckmorton, as engineer from the Carnegie Institute for Technology and as a technical director. It also refers to him as a designer including him in the thongs that came to New York and joined the union. In 1930, he opened a commercial shop, and as a way of advertisement sent out the Catalog of the Theatre which is described as “a historical and technical manual of the stagecraft of that period.”
•The author calls out a studio called Wits and Fingers Scenic Studio “formed” by Peter Larson. From references within books, and the age of the union, I think that commercial shops predate scene shops (therefore TD’s) in standalone theatres, but I have little research to prove this theory.