Thoughts From Mark Shanda
We are storytellers.
We use our artistry and our passion, connected with the efforts of others, to explore the human condition through design and performance, putting to use the very best technology available. We impact audiences by challenging their thinking, celebrating their common humanity, and connecting with their emotions. Remembering our power to impact others is an obligation that we must respect and carry with us each day as we work together. The power of our story telling should not be underestimated, for it can expose issues, illuminate greatness, teach new ways of encountering the world, and even restore missing pieces of our life’s journey.
The artistry and technology on display at our recent Annual Conference & Stage Expo was inspiring. New products were showcased; extraordinary costume, scenery, lighting, and sound designs were displayed; and equipment, both unique and familiar, was shared, all combined to increase our personal tool kits to respond to our next production challenge.
New friendships were made and old alliances renewed. On more than one occasion, I was greeted by a first-timer who felt overwhelmed by all that they had experienced, joyously committing to join us again next year in Ft. Lauderdale. With a record setting number of attendees and an unrivaled quality of programming, all who joined in the week returned to their daily routines both enthused and exhausted. We gathered as an ever increasingly diverse group, with folks from nearly a dozen countries, all fifty states, and ages ranging from high school students to seniors with continuous memberships of over a half a century. We recognized that the differences between us are our greatest strength and are in no way a threat.
The Institute’s story remains a strong one with committed service to our members and ongoing educational and training opportunities the whole year round. Two sessions of the Jay O. Glerum Rigging Master classes are being offered this summer. Both a foreign and a domestic Costume Symposium have been scheduled. The Elite Training program celebrates its seventh year, and USITT Presents... events are being scheduled at various places throughout the country. Mentoring programs flourish and lives are being consistently improved. We are no longer just a loose association of artists, scholars, and theatre practitioners gathering for just four days each year. Rather, we are a year-round resource leading the field of theatrical design and technology.
Our story is continually being revised and written as our members serve their local campuses, sales organizations, and manufacturers. Through both our individual and collective efforts, live entertainment engages audiences throughout the world and USITT becomes increasingly more relevant. I am so grateful to the hundreds of volunteers involved in leadership positions throughout the Institute, the Officers and Board of Directors for freely sharing their strategic wisdom to advance our organization, and for the national office staff for executing so much, so well for our benefit.
We are storytellers. We welcome diversity. We celebrate the individual artist as well as our collaborations. We inspire, we teach, we learn.