November 2012

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October 2012

News From Lea Asbell-Swanger, USITT President

Making Worldwide Connections

Stage Expo Manager Ron Procopio , President Lea Asbell-Swanger, and Executive Director David Grindle, were on hand at PLASA to answer questions and network with colleagues.

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas

In September, I had the opportunity to join several members of the USITT staff (David Grindle, Barbara Lucas, and Ron Procopio) at PLASA in London. Just as PLASA has a booth at our Stage Expo, we have one at theirs.

This was my first trip abroad on behalf of USITT and my first visit to London although I’ve passed through Heathrow on a couple of occasions. I must congratulate David for managing to have all four of us arrive at that airport within an hour of each other even though we came from three different US states and one foreign country! The Paralympic Games were finishing up the week we arrived, so there was still a great deal of national pride in all things athletic. Several sessions at PLASA were dedicated to showcasing the contributions of numerous PLASA members to Olympic events as well as the Queen’s Jubilee.

Some may wonder what USITT gains from attending such an event, and I’ll admit some of it is a little hard to quantify in the moment, but it really comes down to connections that lead to opportunities for our membership.

There are a number of USITT members that are also PLASA members, and it was helpful to be able to spend some time with them without being completely wrapped up in our own event. There were also many visitors to our booth that had heard of USITT but didn’t really understand what it was about. Some that had no notion of USITT at all.

I am very proud to report that David, Barbara, and Ron can all clearly articulate who we are and what we do as well as how USITT could be supportive and beneficial to those in our industry no matter where they live. The best part was that each engagement was collaborative; it was about the potential for the exchange of information and ideas.

For example, David had preceded his time at PLASA with a visit to Dusseldorf, Germany, to meet with the leadership of the German Technical Theatre Association (DTHG) at the invitation of the vice president of that association who attended our conference in Long Beach. While we were at PLASA, the president of DTHG, Karl-Heinz Mittelstädt, and executive director, Huber Eckart visited our booth. Besides David being able to show off his German speaking skills, the conversation led to the possibility of sharing translated articles between our respective journals.

As is always the case with ideas and opportunities, nothing will come of either without additional effort, but suffice it to say, at the end of a very short three days, I felt as energized with future possibilities as I do after our conference.

Not long after our return home, the new and improved USITT website was launched. I hope by now you have taken some time to explore it, and if not, please do. Once again, we have been able to make this improvement in great part because of the excellent work of the staff. Monica Merritt, Director of Member Services, was the driving force behind this upgrade. It is because of her diligence that it was a very smooth transition. Some might say that her efforts were brilliant! (Sorry, couldn’t resist a final nod to all our colleagues in the United Kingdom who made us welcome during our PLASA visit.)

Lea Asbell-Swanger

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