May 2014

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May 2014

News & Notices

Wit, Wisdom, Wackiness from Fort Worth

Janet Gramza Communications Associate

Photos/Tom Thatcher, Richard Finkelstein, Tom Grabowski, Glen Ellman

They triggered laughter; they prompted tears; they brought people to their feet for standing ovations.

The seasoned heroes at the 2014 Conference & Stage Expo are most at home backstage, but they wowed with wit, wisdom, and a little wackiness when put in the spotlight in Fort Worth, Texas.

Here are some gems:

"I notice Susan Davis is here, who was my dresser at the Seattle Opera. So I'm beginning to wonder how many people in this room have seen me in my underwear."
– Darren K. Woods, Fort Worth Opera general director, 2014 Thomas DeGaetani Award.

"Those of you aspiring to careers in the arts -- know that the rewards you get are a direct result of the work you give."
– Mr. Woods.

"I am overwhelmed by this award. I never think about these kinds of things. I'm more worried about what's not exploding when it should."
– James R. Bakkom, artist and props master, 2014 USITT Award.

"Lights are important. But when you blast 'em in a Banty chicken's eyeballs, they go nuts."
– Mr. Bakkom.

"I would be working for the McCarthy Construction Company if it wasn't for the 1974 Iowa State Fair. That's where I first saw the Grateful Dead, which started me on my life of crime."
– Bob McCarthy, 2014 Distinguished Achievement Award in Sound Design.

"I learned in Japan there's a thing in their culture called 'face saving.' You don't want to make anyone look bad. The trick is to bring the person in and make them discover the problem. Then they get to still be in control of their show. Because if you save somebody's butt and fix their show, but you embarrass them, then they can't have you back. But if you save somebody's butt and nobody else knows it, then you've made a friend for life."
– Mr. McCarthy.

"Do not defy the basic laws of physics. Gravity and inertia are always with us."
– Bernhard R. Works, USITT Fellow and award sponsor.

"Man's first tool. Man's first weapon. Peace."
– Mr. Works, presenting the "Golden Hammer" to Nick Christiani, winner of the Fred Buerki Scenic Technology Award.

"The presenters were told to keep it short. Only costume people know long from short."
– Zelma H. Weisfeld, presenting her Costume Design & Technology Award to Lindsay Hinz.

"I learned so much by assisting great lighting designers. What you get in school is theory, and you can always use theory. But you learn more by doing. I think I enjoyed assisting more than designing because of the learning aspect."
– Shirley Prendergast, 2014 Distinguished Achievement Award in Lighting Design.

"One thing I learned from Jules Fisher, besides lighting design, is you take your crew out to dinner on opening night."
– Ms. Prendergast.

"My mentor was Irene Sharaff. I was painting scenery at the Bucks County Playhouse, and Jean Rosenthal, the lighting designer, said, 'You have to meet this woman Irene Sharaff.' So I did, and Ms. Sharaff said, 'How would you like to come to Hollywood and work for no money?' I was 19, and I wanted to be a costume designer. I wanted to wear a big hat and carry a cigarette holder, and she looked like the person who could make that happen."
– Ann Roth, 2014 Distinguished Achievement Award in Costume Design.

"I met many teachers today at the book-signing, and I thought that was great. Because what is the most important career in the world? …Costumes!"
– Ms. Roth, to big laughs.

"I make my life up as I go along. I just try to get up every day and have a great idea."
– Eugene Lee, 2014 Distinguished Achievement Award in Scene Design.

"My first Broadway show was called Dude. The director was Rocco Bufano. Ever heard of him again?"
– Mr. Lee.

"I've learned that happy people make better art. So I try to keep people happy."
– Susan Threadgill, 2014 Distinguished Achievement Award in Management.

"I wanted to be a playwright at first. It took me a year to decide that I didn't really want to watch what someone else would do to my work."
– Ms. Threadgill

"The biggest risk you take every day is just showing up... The worst thing that's going to happen is it's not going to work, and that's OK.' Failure is OK."
– Dana Taylor, 2014 Distinguished Achievement Award in Education.

"I try to stay out of the booth during a performance so I'm not up there gasping because a light cue is half a second late. I try to let the students play. I especially like it when my students become my colleagues more than my students, when they see something wrong with a cue and they fix it and don't tell me."
– Mr. Taylor.

"The 'U' stands for U -- you, you, you. The 'S' stands for us seniors, we old buggers who've been around a long time. 'I' stands for international, intimacy, and infection, because theatre is truly an infectious disease. 'T' of course stands for theatre. And the last 'T' is, you've all got to be like thunderbolts and shake things up... What a state the world's in! We've got to do our best to cheer it all up."
– Richard Pilbrow, USITT Fellow and Opening Night emcee.