Next Story in this issue
News & Notices
News From:
Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record
Alphabet Soup: KCACTF

John S. Uthoff
USITT President

When you attend the USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo, most of the available programming is supplied by the members of USITT through either the Commissions or the Exhibitors. These cover all the main design and production areas as well as Education and Health and Safety. But there is another, much smaller group of programming that comes attached to various groups such as ESTA, OISTAT, KCACTF, LORT Production Managers, USA and sometimes ASTC or others.

All these initials represent other organizations that USITT interacts with on a regular basis. We have agreements with most of them to supply meeting rooms in exchange for programming sessions. Why these groups? These are groups that our membership interacts with on a regular basis. These are groups with which we have at least some common goals. These are groups that impact our members' lives.

For example, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) has been active since the late '60s. I took my first show to the regional festival in 1971. Even back then, there were design exhibits as well as the acting and productions. The response teams included a respondent for the design and technical portions of the production, even back then. One of the unique facts about KCACTF Regional Festivals is that they are one of the few places that actors, directors, designers, playwrights, critics, and theatre technicians meet together to talk about the art and process of theatre. USITT encourages its Regional Sections to be engaged with the Regional Festivals of KCACTF by making funds available to sections for joint programs. Many of our members are involved every year.

For many years the Institute has worked with KCACTF to improve the visibility of the design/tech areas at both the regional and national festivals. Thanks to the willingness of Gregg Henry, Artistic Director of KCACTF, and other administrators, there has been a constant effort to upgrade the design exhibits and workshops at both the Regional Festivals and at the National Festival at the Kennedy Center. At the National Festival, the design exhibits are on display in a prominent location, and the design finalists have several days of hands-on workshops with such notables as Beverly Emmons and Ming Cho Lee. This year, sound was incorporated into these practical workshops as well. KCACTF has supported the design winners with hotel and per diem funds, and the Institute has exhibited the work of the regional winners at the conference and published the national winners.

A few years ago, KCACTF started summer Design Intensives for the regional design winners and faculty of member schools in the design areas. These are two week, hands-on workshops at the Kennedy Center where the students and faculty work with distinguished theatre artists in their chosen area. This last year, the Kennedy Center was kind enough to offer scholarships to attend these workshops to the winners in Scenery, Costumes, and Lighting of USITT's Young Designers and Technicians Awards, as well as three fellowships to faculty members chosen by the Commissions. This year, USITT winners were:

Student Awards:

  • Lighting, Keith Kirkland
  • Scene Design, Kimi Maeda, and Nicholas Vaughan
  • Costume Design, Clinton O'Dell

Faculty Awards:

  • Lighting, Buddy Combs
  • Scene Design, Dennis Hassan
  • Costume Design, Pat Martin

This is an exciting new benefit in our relationship with the KCACTF and one that Mr. Henry has indicated the Festival would be willing to do again this summer.

One last area of interaction, one that is just beginning, is the possibility of working on International Projects with the Kennedy Center. The Institute may end up co-hosting OISTAT Commission Meetings at the Kennedy Center, and it may even be possible to have the USITT National Exhibit to PQ displayed at the Kennedy Center if the details can be finalized.

All these projects are exciting and represent just one set of the interactions USITT enjoys with other related organizations. Our hope is that these relationships will give the members of USITT new and exciting opportunities and help all of us deliver better theatre.

To Top

Gregg Henry of Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival spoke as part of the Fellows Address, Induction, and Reception to announce a additional collaboration between KCACTF and USITT.

Photo/Tom Thatcher.