April 2012

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April 2012

News & Notices

Technical Competitions Thrive in Midwest

Compiled by: Steve Jacobs, Ellen White, and Ken Fraza

In looking back at the 2011-2012 season of technical competitions throughout the Midwest Regional Section, it became evident that Tech Olympics/Tech Challenge continues to enjoy healthy participation and educational benefits.

The Wisconsin High School Theatre Festival on the campus of The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater was held in November for the 12th year. A total of nine teams and 45 high school students competed. The Michigan Educational Theatre Association/Michigan Thespian Festival in November and December, on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University is in its fourth year and still "young" compared to the other states. High school students enjoyed competing in the light hang, costume quick change, knot tying, sound system, and prop set-up events.

In January, the Illinois High School Theatre Festival (sponsored by Illinois Theatre Association) was held on the campus of Illinois State University-Normal. For 10 years, Tech Olympics has been a popular activity at the Festival, doubling in size from the early years. Participation has leveled off the past few years with 16 schools and 90 competitors. Also in January, Tech Challenge was held during the Indiana Thespian State Conference on the campus of Huntington University. For the first seven years, the challenge saw an average of 28 students jumping to 44 in 2010 and 66 in 2011. This year it leveled off at 17 teams and 68 students.

The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region 3 Festival took place on the campus of the University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana in January with 17 two-member teams, for a total of 34 competitors, participating.

Wisconsin held a new event called the Cable Roll Relay. Originally set up as an exhibition event, the judges decided to make it part of the competition. The Cable Relay (sponsored by ETC) is a team event for up to four people. The students line up in single file at the starting line. On the go, the first person proceeds to the first cable, rolls the cable properly and secures it, moves it to the storage location, and goes back to the starting line where he tags off to the next person in line to do the same thing.

Once all the cables are rolled and the last person crosses the finish line, the time is stopped and the rolled cables are judged for neatness and location. There are four different 25-foot cables used in this event: a DMX cable, a standard orange extension cable, a stage pin (SO) extension cable, and a microphone/audio cable. The event caused many discussions of the various ways to coil the different cables, including the over-under version, the wrist twist, and the unacceptable "around-the-elbow." Two morning sessions were for practice, where more often than not, the students were learning the event for the first time. In the Team Competition, Champion Dominican High School's Black Team took first place followed by Neenah High School coming in a close second and Deforest High School in third place.

In Michigan, instead of a second and third place team award, an individual "All-Around" Technician award went to Miranda Trotman from Henry Ford II High School who received a PAR fixture from ETC. First place team competition award went to the students of Romeo High School.
In Illinois, the Lake Zurich High School, which had not fielded a team for a number of years, returned and took first with the fastest team time.

In Indiana, Lake Central High School placed first, followed by Carmel High School in second, Prairie Heights in third, and Logansport fourth.

Tech Olympics at the KCACTF Region 3 festival are slightly different from the high school events with two-man teams rather than five to seven people on a team. Team event awards went to: Jeffrey Clark and Emily Kong from Adrian College, Michigan, sound; Chris Smock and Joe Rogers from Michigan, set/carpentry; and Evan Keeton and Gina Smothers from Oakland University, Michigan, prop shift.

Individual awards went to Liz Walen from St. Mary's College, Indiana, hang and focus a light, and Cory Boughton from University of Michigan-Flint, knot tying. Team awards were: first place - Jalina Olhren and Tyler Weldon from Northern Michigan, second place - Charlie Jacque and Andrea Knoll from Northern Michigan, and third place - Sara Vansteenbergen and Amanda Herrman from Ripon College, Wisconsin.

Among the sponsors who helped make these events successful were Mainstage Theatrical, Designlab Chicago, The Lighthouse (Green Bay), Acme Corp. (Milwaukee), Indianapolis Stage Sales and Rental, Chicago Spotlight, Intelligent Lighting Creations, Grand Stage, Hall Flying Associates, Broadway Costumes, and ETC, which continues to provide two Source 4 fixtures to each of the Tech Olympics/Tech Challenges.