October 2011

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October 2011

Conference & Stage Expo

Workshops in LA and the OC

Brian Alan Reed, Long Beach Promotions Coordinator

There is one thing to count on when attending a USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo in southern California; there will be some programming that revolves around Hollywood.  The plans that are developing for the 2012 conference remain true to that expectation, but the next Long Beach gathering will include other aspects of the region’s arts and entertainment industries, with special day-long workshops ranging from theme parks to theatre architecture to museum design to specialty prop shops.

Plans are in the works for not one, but two day-long opportunities (one on Monday, one on Tuesday) that will provide a professional development workshop (PDW) at Disneyland.  Each one will be a peek behind the scenes at the world’s most famous theme park. 

Monday’s event will be an in-depth look at three specific areas. After orientation at the Hyperion Theatre, participants will break into groups according to areas of interest–costuming, stage management, and technical production (scenery, rigging, lighting, and audio)–for an in-depth look at how each area is organized within the park. The day will include tours of areas relevant to each group, both in the park and at nearby shops, led by staff with intimate knowledge of Disneyland’s day-to-day operations.

Tuesday’s much longer day will start at 7 a.m. and allow participants to have a broader overview of different aspects of the park, concluding with the world-famous parade.

By contrast, Conference-goers who would like to venture into Los Angeles, rather than Anaheim, have several options.  The L.A. Conservancy Tour of Broadway Theatres will present the wonderfully diverse, historic theatres of downtown Los Angeles.  Participants will visit the largest (and first) theatre district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  From tiny nickelodeons to elegant movie palaces and vaudeville theatres largely unchanged since 1910, the variety of architecture and the state of its preservation is outstanding.  Those who are not that familiar with downtown Los Angeles may see the city from a new and unexpectedly urban perspective; Welcome to the Big Orange!

For something more contemporary in design and technology, another PDW will visit the Museum of Tolerance.  In a workshop entitled “Iosono 3-D Sound Installation at the Museum of Tolerance,” participants will hear a presentation from those involved in the recent Iosono 3-D sound system installation in the Peltz Theatre at the Museum.  The system was installed by Electrosonic, rigged by LA ProPoint, and lighted by MPA.  Members of these companies will lead a discussion of the design and execution of the system.  Following that presentation, participants can tour the rest of the museum, which is a moving testimonial to the value of tolerance and the unfortunate results of intolerance around the world.

For a workshop that is more hands-on, Making the Mold might be of interest. No, that is not the title of a new horror movie; it is the title of an eight-hour PDW on Monday afternoon and evening.  Join special effects artist and properties maker Ron Pardini as he demystifies the mold making process.  (Among his many prop-making experiences over the years, he built many of the prop weapons for the tongue-in-cheek, sci-fi film Men in Black.) Participants will spend the day with Mr. Pardini at his shop making molds and learning about different techniques they can apply in their own scenic studios.  Each participant will sculpt a small prop, create a mold for it, cast the prop, and finish a piece that he or she can take home from the workshop. (Depending on what the participants create, they might not want to pack it in their carry-on bags).

Makeup will be the focus for a day-long exploration which will include time at the Ben Nye factory, and a chance to shop at Nigel’s Beauty Emporium, and lunch in the NoHo (North Hollywood) neighborhood.

As always, a trip to Long Beach will offer a great variety of extra activities available only in Southern California.