December 2012

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December 2012

News From Lea Asbell-Swanger, USITT President

A Las Vegas Experience

At LDI, President Lea Asbell-Swanger had the opportunity to talk with two members who met at USITT's Elite Training Program and have since collaborated on several projects. From left are Megan Gardner, USITT Executive Director David Grindle, Cheryl Smith, and USITT President Lea Asbell-Swanger.

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas

The last time you heard from me, I shared some of my experiences traveling on behalf of USITT. Since then, I had the opportunity to represent the membership at LDI in Las Vegas. I’m happy to report that, once again, spending time with USITT staff (David Grindle, Barbara E. R. Lucas, Monica Merritt, and Ron Procopio) is always informative and entertaining. I learned more than I thought I needed to know about a South Korean entertainer called PSY, but perhaps I just haven’t found the best use of that experience.

We were visited by lots of members representing all sorts of disciplines, but there were a couple of highlights that I’d like recount. On separate occasions, gentlemen approached the booth. Almost apologetically, each said he had been involved with USITT years earlier but not recently.

One said he had actually left the industry to pursue other interests but was returning. The other said he had just gotten out of the habit of attending the conference even though he had colleagues that still did so. After a little conversation, each finally admitted that he was really there on behalf of his offspring. One had a daughter who was interested in theatre, particularly stage management. The other had actually brought his son, an aspiring technician, with him to visit us to find out what we might have to offer. Of course, we were able to offer information to both and encouraged each to attend the upcoming conference, consider involvement in the appropriate regional section or student chapter, and visit the recently updated website to explore the programs and materials that are available to our members.

The thing that struck me about these encounters was not that these gentlemen had been members and weren’t currently, but that their time as members affected them enough that they thought of USITT when their children expressed an interest in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.

Other visitors of note were Megan Gardner and Cheryl Smith. They stopped by to sing the praises of the Elite Training program hosted by Cirque du Soleil at its training center in Las Vegas. They actually met during that program, became friends, and now partner as colleagues on projects using many of the skills they learned through the Elite Training experience. They both believe that USITT and the folks involved with Elite Training changed their lives in positive ways that they hadn’t previously considered.

Megan, a student member of USITT, and Cheryl, a professional member, spoke of the bigger personal goals they have as a result. They want to share the importance of taking advantage of this kind of opportunity no matter where a person is along a career path. We’re going to work with them and have them share their thoughts personally because the impact of our programs is personal.

The point of these stories is to remind us all that the opportunities and programs that USITT offers are relevant to all kinds of people -- in many different ways and at different points within careers. Sometimes we get so caught up in the how and when to get it all done, that we forget why it needs to be; here are at least four people who can remind us.

If you have not seen PSY perform, click here, and tell me what you think.

Lea Asbell-Swanger

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