July 2013

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July 2013

The Last Word:

Conference Reviews

Northern Boundary Scholarship Winners - Getting Serious about Impending Life...

Josie Liebenow USITT Scholarship Recipient

This year, I am absolutely delighted to have been selected to receive a scholarship from the Northern Boundary Regional Section (NBS) allowing me to attend the USITT Conference & Stage Expo in March. After writing an essay about my intentions to buck up and get myself out in the professional world starting with the Conference, I’m happy to say I did just that.

Josie Liebenow

Josie Liebenow

For those who don’t yet know me, I am a graduating senior from Minnesota State University-Moorhead, having studied costume design and technology under the wonderful Ricky Greenwell. For the last two years, I have started to attend as many of the USITT national and regional meetings as I can, “getting serious” about impending life as a theatre professional. I got my feet wet, almost literally, in Long Beach last spring and, for the first time, witnessed firsthand what an amazing national community of technicians is out there. I was inspired to take what I saw and learned with me in my final year of university, and from that point on have regarded the Institute as an invaluable resource for undertaking my career.

That being said, the essay I submitted to the NBS reading committee essentially outlined my intentions to take advantage of this year’s conference wherever possible. I brought several copies of a freshly edited and current resume, ready to hand to prospective employers and networks; I shook several hands and exchanged laughs with then-strangers, soon-to-be familiar faces of peers, professionals, and fellows alike; I took notes of tips, tricks, phone numbers, and each panel; I ate free food and collected shiny swag. I even learned and attended nearly all of the informational sessions about the incredible World Stage Design convention, which I am excitedly (but tentatively) planning to attend in Cardiff this September as a volunteer.

Most importantly, I followed up with any striking ads I discovered on the job board. I am proud to have had an entertaining and impromptu interview on the carpet of the buzzing convention center hallway, and currently find myself waiting to hear back from the positions I applied for as soon as I got home from the convention. These were the exact goals I made for this year, and with the help of the scholarship from NBS, I was able to successfully achieve. I am grateful to the board members who read and ultimately selected my essay, as well as all the individuals who contributed to an exciting end to my time at MSU, and simultaneous springboard into my career.

Thank you!

The National USITT Conference: A First Experience

Jessica Van Kempen USITT Scholarship Recipient

I am Jessica Van Kempen, and I am currently a junior at Gustavus Adolphus College, pursuing my BA in theatre with an emphasis in costume design and technology. I was a lucky recipient of the SECOA NBS scholarship, and I want to thank everyone who made this opportunity possible, because without it I would not have been able to experience my first National USITT Conference & Stage Expo this past March.

Before going, I had little idea of what I could expect from the conference and what exactly I’d be able to get out of it. I was worried everything would be too over my head, that this conference was meant for professionals and not for a lowly little undergrad student like me. I was very wrong. From the moment I arrived at my first sessions, the environment was comfortable and welcoming. I could understand the conversations people were having; they talked like I talk, and they had the same questions and problems as I did. All this helped me to realize that these were my people, and that this profession was where I belonged.

The sessions I went to (the very ones I feared would be too complicated) were extremely interesting and helpful. The topics taught at the sessions weren’t advanced things that would’ve taken me years to accomplish but were mostly tricks and tips that I can incorporate into my work at Gustavus as soon as an opportunity arises. Some of the topics of these sessions included repurposing hats, beginning draping, make-up rendering, faux corseting, and quick changes. Not only did these sessions teach me practical skills, they also gave me peace of mind that I do understand my job and that I am capable. It kept that creative fire going. It was nice to see other work from other young professionals; it helps to see that you’re on the right track.

Not all my time was spent in costume sessions. I did venture out of my comfort zone and attended sessions with topics not as familiar to me. My favorite non-costume themed session was on the language of color in lighting design. It was fascinating to hear about all the science that goes into lighting and just how difficult it is to light something the way you want to. Although this was about color and lighting, I learned more on how to talk to a lighting designer, what I can do to help them, what I could do when my costume might be the problem, and appreciate their work more because I could never create what they can magically craft.

In the end, this conference furthered my education in many ways. I learned tangible and practical skills. I learned about other areas of theatre production. I learned more about other people in the professional theatre world. More importantly, I learned about myself as a young artist, where I see myself, and how I hope to get where I want to go. I gained an understanding of the people I’ll meet along the way.

Again, thank you to everyone who made this possible, and I hope to see you all next year in Fort Worth!

Student Scholarships to Attend the National USITT Conference

The NBS has a long tradition of supporting scholarships for students to attend the National Annual Conference & Stage Expo. Attending a national conference is an incredible experience for learning, connecting, socializing, and stretching ideas about a person’s place in theatre design, production, or related performance areas.

With help from corporate and individual sponsors, the Section has supported 59 students (give-or-take some multiple winners) since 1998 to the tune of $23,225 to attend the Conference. It makes a variety of awards each year.

For more information, contact Section Chair Todd Reemtsma at toddr@jthlighting.com. To apply for a scholarship, download and complete the Student Scholarship Application, and send the form and related documents to Mr. Reemtsma by October 15 at the address on the form. Anyone who is joining the Section as part of the application process, should fill out a membership application and send it with payment to the section treasurer listed at the bottom of the member form.