June 2012

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June 2012

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director

Summer: Time to Experience the Light

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas


It's that fabled season when theatre people take a break from a job where they work in the dark to go work in the dark in a different place.

One of the great underappreciated benefits of employment in technical theatre is the magnificent tan we all get in our jobs. It takes a special person to really appreciate the tan a 36 degree ellipsoidal offers. For those of us who have mastered the art, it is a beautiful thing.

Of course those who love us, and don't "get" the joke, all continue to say the same thing "Go outside." We've heard of such a location, but we're just a bit concerned that the lighting won't be right, the props will be out of place, and the fog juice won't be mixed correctly.

Many in our profession could serve as the illustration of "dedication," in the dictionary. However, for many of us, it can become an almost obsessive focus to be in the theatre. My wife would point out that having me urge people outside is like the proverbial pot speaking to the kettle, but it is true.

We must get out more.

How can we truly recreate a sunset or sunrise if we never see one? The warmth of the sun on your face is markedly different from the warmth of a Source 4. (They are both equally pleasing, I might say) But we must take the time to experience them.

One of the theatres I have visited often but have never worked in is the Santa Fe Opera House. This venue, on a mesa north of New Mexico's capital, is an outdoor experience. When the back wall of the theatre is cleared, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains roll across the horizon less than 50 miles away. The wildlife that roams across the grounds can be beautiful (and occasionally deadly). To get to work there in the high mountain desert allows you to appreciate nature's creation alongside man's. What an amazing opportunity.

We work hours and hours and hours in dark theatres and rehearsal halls. In January, I've gone in to rehearsal in the morning and come out eight hours later to eight inches of snow on the ground. We hadn't left to notice a snow storm, a rare event in Indiana. That's amazing focus on our show, and horrible focus on us.

My friend Jay Sheehan is always reminding people to take time for themselves. He's right. I've known that for a while, but now that I've occasionally taken that advice, I find a greater creativity within me.

Take some time and try it. A 10 minute walk outside on a long day of tech could make you appreciate the great joy of working in our industry. It seems paradoxical, but enjoying the outside makes all of the difference inside.

David Grindle

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Please e-mail David at david@office.usitt.org.
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