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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record

Spectacular sessions will light up Phoenix during the 2007 Conference & Stage Expo.

Photo/Tom Thatcher


Lighting Commission Plans Many Conference Activities

Contributions by Heidi Bowers, Todd Studebaker, Vickie Scott, Tracy Fitch, Craig Wolf, Todd Proffitt, and Anthony R. Phelps
Lighting Commission

With the 2007 USITT Conference & Stage only a few weeks away here is a brief overview of just a few of the sessions offered by the Lighting Commission. There are more sessions to choose from so check the program at the conference. While in Phoenix, Commission members also will work on programming for the Houston Conference in 2008 and beyond.

Are We Giving Students the Skills They Need?
There are a variety of challenging, rewarding, and lucrative employment opportunities in the lighting field, but are we educating students for the vast possibilities for employment beyond being a designer?

Theatre Lighting Director Overview
A blue-ribbon panel of professionals -- including David Elliott, Christina Giannelli, Stan Pressner, and Chris Dennis -- will join Steve Shelley to examine the skills, responsibilities, and tactics used to be a theatrical lighting director or lighting supervisor. The foursome will discuss contracts and scenarios, and compare the hardware, wetware, and political ware to get the job, keep the job, and survive the job.

A Practical Guide to Festival Lighting
Stan Pressner, Doug Witney, and Steve Shelley (Lincoln Center Festival, International Festival of Arts and Ideas, and the Spoleto Festival USA, respectively) will examine the skills, responsibilities, and tactics of creating or recreating theatrical lighting in a festival situation. Whether it's a premiere or a remount, lighting a show in this environment is unique and potentially filled with pitfalls and rewards. The three will discuss their jobs and their perceptions regarding incoming shows. Since they've also often taken shows to other festivals, they can compare the tactics and preparations that allow success either as a festival lighting coordinator or a festival visiting lighting designer.

Lighting by Tharon Musser
The Lighting Commission will host a session to celebrate the career of Tharon Musser and the publication of the third USITT Designer Monograph, The Designs of Tharon Musser. Joining in the discussion of her Broadway and regional lighting career will be a panel composed of Tharon Musser's assistants. Featured panelists will include Betsy Adams, Ken Billington, Rick Belzer, Kirk Bookman, Douglas Cox, Jeff Davis, Fred Hancock, Jo Mayer, Marilyn Rennagel, David Segal, Kendall Smith, and Anne Sullivan. All of Ms. Musser's assistants collaborated with Del Unruh (in particular Marilyn Rennagel and Jeff Davis) on the production of the monograph. The session, scheduled for 4:45 p.m. Friday, March 16, will be hosted by Craig Wolf and moderated by Mr. Unruh. It will be preceded by a monograph-signing event at 2:30 p.m. at the USITT booth at Stage Expo and be followed by a reception hosted by the Lighting Commission. 

Ms. Musser's remarkable professional career lasted from 1956 to 1999 and includes 117 Broadway productions among which are: A Long Day's Journey into Night, Mame, The Odd Couple, Follies, A Chorus Line, A Little Night Music, The Wiz, Brighton Beach Memoirs, 42nd Street, and Dreamgirls. In addition to her Broadway work, Ms. Musser designed throughout the United States for regional companies such as the American Shakespeare Festival, the National Repertory Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum, the Dallas Opera, and the Miami Opera. The session will be a free wheeling discussion of the art and practice of a most famous lighting designer with ample time for questions.

Looking Ahead to Houston Programming 2008
With March fast approaching, now is as good a time as any to start thinking about programming ideas for the 2008 Conference & Stage Expo in Houston. It may seem early to start programming, but Houston is a Light Lab year and the Lighting Commission needs its members' thoughts, desires, and ideas now. This will help in planning venue sites for the Light Lab, to acquire professional services and support for the Light Lab, and to better plan and place programming in Houston. Those unsure about how programming is chosen or who chooses the programming, or who might like to help, come to one of the Commission meetings in Phoenix or speak with one of the Lighting Commission members. Those looking to be more involved can shadow a panel chair or a Lighting Commission chair thus having all the fun of being involved with none of the tension.

To suggest an idea for a Lighting Commission session in Houston, e-mail Todd Studebaker at or call him at 404-651-2937.

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