April 2016

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April 2016

News & Notices

USITT Tech Olympics 2016

Tracy Nunnally Tech Olympics Chair

Photos by Glen Ellman

On March 18, 2016, 122 elite technicians from schools across the country assembled in the ballroom of the Salt Palace Convention Center to match skills against their peers to win individual prizes and compete as teams for the coveted USITT Tech Olympics Trophy. The best of the best from each team raced the stopwatch in a variety of events designed to test their ability and teamwork using everyday skills that theatre technicians must demonstrate on a regular basis.

Professors and professionals volunteered as adjudicators and advisors for several events while a small army of stage managers from USITT’s Stage Management Mentor Program served as leaders, organizers, timers, and score keepers. Kaitlyn Bindus of Otterbein University held the reins of the event this year, and successfully led her team of stage managers to an incredibly successful Tech Olympics event. Cirque du Soleil SM John Gruber joined the event this year as the official emcee. Whether stalking the room in a flashing silver hoodie or leading a dance with his cat-ear speaker rig, John brought the event to life!

Here’s a wrap-of the events and winners:

Costume Change

Teams of two direct and assist an actor through a quick change of costumes, while maintaining decorum and organization. Amber Cook, Allison Crutchfield, and Jennifer Sansfacon served as adjudicators. The best times in this event were:

  • First Place – Stephen Marks and Laura West of James Madison University
  • Second Place – Jaylene Jones and Carl Knowles of Central Washington University
  • Third Place – Nicole Gillette and Hayley Moretti of Western Connecticut State University

Knot Tying

Participants must correctly demonstrate their ability to tie three knots; a clove hitch with two half hitches, a trucker’s hitch, and a bowline around a lighting instrument. Mick Alderson, Stu Cox, and Cheryl Warnock adjudicated this event and coached the participants on better knot tying techniques. The best times were:

  • First Place – Aaron Bridgeman of Western Connecticut State University
  • Second Place – Shaughn Bryantt of SUNY Fredonia
  • Third Place – Eddie Massari of SUNY Fredonia


This year’s solo event asked participant to hang and focus lighting instruments to a set of given shapes, then properly strike the instruments. Ellen White of ETC Lighting was joined by Jonathan Allender-Zivic, Anne McMills, and Patrick Stewart to adjudicate this crowd favorite. The best times were:

  • First Place – Taylor Ness from Emerson College
  • Second Place – Christopher Wong of the University of Maryland
  • Third Place – Tim Swensen of the University of Utah.


Participants must strike existing props from a given on-stage table to a marked prop table, then take a different set of props from the prop table and set them up properly onstage. The event was adjudicated by Brandt Belknap, Samantha Hodson, and Emily Todt. The winners were:

  • First Place – Al Osuna-Beasley of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts
  • Second Place – Ginny Treu of High Point University
  • Third Place (tie) – Carl Knowles of Central Washington University and Jimmy Stubbs of the University of Maryland.


Two-person teams had to successfully set up a sound system to supply signal to a set of standard speakers from two separate sources - one playback source and one microphone. Jennifer Jackson and Tom Haughey created a tough challenge for the participants as they adjudicated the event. These best teams were:

  • First Place – Shaughn Bryantt and Evan Kicman of SUNY Fredonia
  • Second Place – Emily Cuerdon and Nathan Lockhart of Emerson College
  • Third Place – David DeCarolis and Gavin Yehle of the University of Utah.

Stage Management

A team of two had to accurately tape out a ground plan in a pre-marked area using various spike tapes. Four amazing adjudicators were able to run two teams in tandem this year. They were Amy Bender, Laura-Lee Everett, Michele Kay, and Brian Newman. The winners were:

  • First Place – Matt Lang and Eddie Massari of SUNY Fredonia
  • Second Place – Lina Benich and Taylor Starr of Emerson College
  • Third Place – Brian Lehrer and Taylor Ness of Emerson College.

Mystery Event - Cable Coil Relay

The Mystery Event for 2016 was the Cable Coil Relay. A team of four had to coil various types of cable, identify the cable, and store them properly. Ken Fraza, Chris Haug, and Ron Clark coached the participants through the event and adjudicated their performance. The best times were:

  • First Place – Lina Benich, Brian Lehrer, Nathan Lockart, and Taylor Ness of Emerson College
  • Second Place – Martin Alcocer, Macarena Subiabre, Tim Swensen and Gavin Yehle of the University of Utah
  • Third Place – Benjamin Jacobson, Brittany Lawrence, Matt McCarty, and Wayne Ogle of Central Washington University.

Best Technician

The award for Best Technician goes to the single participant who places consistently higher than all others in the competition. These three Emerson students did very well and are to be congratulated on their wide range of accomplishments:

  • First Place – Taylor Ness from Emerson College
  • Second Place – Nathan Lockhart from Emerson College
  • Third Place – Brian Lehrer from Emerson College.

Best Performing Team

The award for Best Performing Team goes to the team whose members finish with consistently high placement across all events. The trophy was earned by the reigning champions, the Emerson College Greene Beans. This amazing group of talented students has taken the trophy home two years in a row!

  • First Place – Emerson College “Greene Beans”
  • Second Place – SUNY Fredonia “FUSITT”
  • Third Place – Central Washington University “Technicats”

The prizes this year were some of the best in the history of the event, and we extend our sincere thanks to our generous donors: StageJunk.com, CantoUSA/RLED, A.C.T. Lighting, Gantom Lighting & Controls, Callboard & Co., Gig Gear, Lectrosonics, Sapsis Rigging, Rosco, Frends Beauty, 4Wall, Alcons Audio, Syracuse Scenery & Stage Lighting, Reynolds Advanced Materials, Wenger and JR Clancy, Wireless Mic Belts, ZFX, AC Lighting, Vertigo, Altman, German Lighting Products, Buckle Boutique, ENTTEC, ETC, iWeiss, and Tools for Stagecraft.

Once again, we close the books on another successful Tech Olympics event. In 2017, we are looking forward to an even more exciting competition. In addition to increased challenges in all areas, look for exciting new events in the props and costume areas and another challenging mystery event! We will see you in St. Louis!