May 2013

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May 2013

News & Notices

Bright Lights, Great Costumes: USITT Symposium Illuminates Outfits

Looking for a way to electrify a theatre production? This summer’s USITT Costume Symposium is about using technology to make costumes shine, glow, wink, blink, or otherwise light up. Wearable Technology, a two-day, hands-on workshop on electronically enhancing fabric, runs June 13 to 15 at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

RIT professors Marla Schweppe, costume design, and Jeanne Christman, engineering technology, offer a step-by-step seminar on assembling circuits, programming microprocessors, and “wiring” fabric for a variety of light-up effects.

“Hands-on workshops will have you incorporating lights, sensors, motors, and el-wire into projects,” Marla said. “We simplify the process down to basics to make getting started less intimidating.”

She began working with wearable technology over a decade ago as a costume designer and computer graphics artist whose favorite project was making a battery-powered wind-up key for the back of a Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus clown costume.

 “When a mutual friend realized that Jeanne was an engineer who liked to sew and that I had designed costumes and was interested in electronics, she introduced us and the rest is history,” Marla said.

Jeanne describes herself as “an educator passionate about outreach and recruitment to computer engineering” who is always seeking ways to ignite that interest across other disciplines.

“Wearable Technology provides the perfect platform for introducing concepts in an exciting manner,” she said. “Who doesn’t want to design a shirt that turns on when they walk into a dark room?”

Using that ability to put twinkle in Tinkerbell’s tutu or Glinda’s gown isn’t difficult with today’s advances. Components are smaller and more affordable than ever, she said.

The Costume Symposium will supply all the tools needed to learn the basics. Participants can bring clothing items they would like to enhance, but some will be supplied. Additional electronics will be available for a fee. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will be provided daily.

The symposium fee is $395 for USITT members and $500 for non-members who register by May 1. After May 1, the cost is $450 for members and $575 for non-members.

For more information including hotels, directions, and daily schedule, click here. To register, click here.