August 2011

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August 2011

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director

Simple, Yet Elegant, Wins the Day

For every Goliath, there is a stone.

What a year it has been!!!!

I saw this on a church sign while driving through a community near Syracuse recently. It struck me as being very relevant to our membership.

I’m pretty sure, no matter what your background, this is a familiar story. Goliath, the giant, terrorizes a community. People run in fear except for a young boy who faces him with a sling and stone. This simple yet elegant weapon disposes of a menace with a shot to the head. Others had tried complex attempts, and they had failed, but simple and elegant won out.

Theatre designers, technicians, and managers face giant challenges constantly. We have some type of genetic makeup that causes us to thrive on that part of our lives. From the impossible, yet brilliant, ideas that come up in design and production meetings, to the front of house issues that magically appear and expect to be solved before the performance starts, it seems that we all have moments where we hope we have just the right “stone” in our tool box to slay the giant.

I can think of many times in my career when someone had a simple, elegant solution to what seemed a humongeous problem. A props person once had canes and walking sticks on his arms in order of actors exit so they could grab them efficiently, and their hats were on his head in order as well. Simple and elegant.

Costumers constantly find a way to make the most amazing changes happen with as few steps as possible. Simple and elegant solutions abound in that world. And I will admit that I am fabric challenged, so I think anything a costumer does defies gravity.

A scenic designer I admire once needed a jack to hold a wall for a scene in Act I of La Boheme. Unfortunately, the wall swung around in a quick change, exposing the jack. In a moment of brilliance, a Christmas tree in a bucket was “leaning against the wall” to hide the jack in Act II. The holiday worked and the solution of set dressing was simple and elegant.

We just completed our 2011 Tech Expo, and it included many simple and elegant solutions. OISTAT just had its first tech expo, the Technical Invention Prize, and it was full of elegant solutions to problems. That’s the brilliant thing about our industry and our people; not only do such wonderful ideas come to light, but we are excited to share them with others.

Think of the tale of David and Goliath the next time a big challenge comes to you. No matter what the size, every Goliath has its stone.

David Grindle

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