November 2011

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November 2011

Conference & Stage Expo

'Entertainment Capital' Offers Much to Explore

Brian Alan Reed, Long Beach Promotions Coordinator

Plans for the 2012 Conference & Stage Expo include some exciting conference sessions that will take advantage of Long Beach's location within the "Entertainment Capital of the World." These panel discussions and presentations promise to inform USITT members about the many avenues for creativity and careers in southern California.

Costumers can look forward to a couple of distinctive sessions: one about dancing celebrities and one about robotic "performers." The first will focus on what's involved in designing for television's Dancing with the Stars. (Wondering what really happened with that whole Nancy Grace debacle in September? Find out from someone who really knows.) By contrast, there will be a session entitled Costuming on the Move with Disney Animatronics. Join Disney's creative costuming team as they discuss and demonstrate specialized costume and cosmetology techniques used for animatronic figures that depict characters from both live action and animated features. Attend both sessions and perhaps answer the question "Which is closer to reality?"

Design and Production on Cruise Ships could present a nice break from landlocked productions. The panelists will talk about recent projects including installations on the locally-docked Queen Mary. Learn about the challenges of working in a venue on the high seas: What's different, what works, and what doesn't?

For theatre architects and their prospective clients, there will be a thought-provoking session called, Now That You Have What You Wanted, Is It What You Want? There are many elements at play when a new live performance venue comes together: egos, desires, politics, money, logistics, and more. Now that the venue is built, is it what the clients really wanted?

Theatre consultants and end-users will look back at the process and discuss how the venue is actually used today. Along these same lines, on Wednesday afternoon, March 28, there will be tours led by the designers and users of the Clayes Performing Arts Center at Cal State Fullerton, including its 800-seat concert hall, 250-seat thrust theatre, and 150-seat black box theatre.

Designing for film and television has been a hot topic at previous Long Beach conferences, and the 2012 version will provide at least a couple of sessions on production design and art direction. Scenic designer, production designer, and educator John Iacovelli will chair a panel on Theatre Designers Working in Film and Television. This will be an opportunity to learn how theatrical designers made the transition to the big and the small screens. The differences in the demands and expectations of each medium will be investigated. Panelists will discuss their training and what they wish they had known when they were starting out. There also will be a separate session entitled, Conversations with Members of the Art Directors' Guild.

Curious about the "big picture" when it comes to entertainment production? There are some exciting sessions being planned. These include back-to-back sessions chaired by Patricia MacKay: Coming Up with the Big Idea and Making the Big Idea Real. The first seeks to answer "How does a design come together when there is no script, or the writers are the last to know?" Learn first about this process as experienced professionals discuss their recent collaborative projects. Then learn in the second session about how to get it built on time and on budget. Panelists will discuss recently completed, high-profile projects as real-life case studies, such as 'Beyond All Boundaries' at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and "King Kong in 3D" at Universal Studios.

Another "big picture" session in the works for Long Beach is A Mouse, A Duck, and Seven Dwarves—The Production Pro. Making magic for millions of guests and audience members each year takes a lot more than pixie dust and happy thoughts in the Magic Kingdom. Learn about Disney's production process, and how they take an idea from concept to reality at the highest level of professionalism and execution.

These are just some of the many and varied sessions that will take advantage of the special resources and expertise that southern California can provide. Make plans to join us in Long Beach and expect to be enlightened — and even entertained — along the way.

For more complete information on the more than 200 sessions to be offered at the 2012 Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Long Beach from March 28 to 31, visit and click on the sessions link.