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

Shown at left is Dan Backlund with Traditional Vietnamese Water Puppets in a 2007 session in Phoenix, Arizona. Who knows what special event or session will spark the imagination or provide that crucial informational link at the 2008 Annual Conference & Stage Expo.

Photo/Casey Kearns


Join USITT's March
Madness! 48th Annual
Conference & Stage Expo

Sylvia Hillyard Pannell
USITT President

"Houston" was the first word Astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke when he landed on the moon. Like Astronaut Armstrong, we have had Houston on the tip of our tongues all year with preparations underway for our upcoming USITT 48th Annual Conference & Stage Expo.

Even by Texas standards, Houston is big -- the largest city in a state that takes big seriously! With 3.4 million citizens, it is the fourth largest city in the USA and, as such, offers many opportunities to make this the biggest and most robust USITT Conference & Stage Expo ever!

Rub shoulders with the stars in the fields of theatre and entertainment design and technology. In 2008, USITT is thrilled to present the prestigious USITT Award to Abe Jacob, known as the "Godfather of Theater Sound Design." Tony Award-winning set designer John Lee Beatty, author/costume designer Rebecca Cunningham, the 60-year-old Alley Theatre that still finds itself at the heart of Houston's theatre activity, and many other leaders from our professional ranks will be awarded for their astonishing artistic and technological achievements.

VP Conferences Joe Aldridge, VP Programming/President-Elect Carl Lefko, and VP Special Operations Dan Denhart, together with our remarkable Staff, Conference Committee, Commissions, Contractors, and collaborating organizations, will offer a potpourri of more than 250 sessions, seminars, and meetings including design exhibits, hands-on workshops, Tech Olympics, formal and informal gatherings of interest groups, and an Awards Banquet honoring our celebrities.

Keynote Address and Annual Meeting of the Institute

It all begins with the Keynote Address and Annual Meeting of the Institute, the first of three "All-Conference Events." Don't miss scenic and lighting designer, Kevin Rigdon, who will deliver our keynote address. Mr. Rigdon has designed scenery, lighting, and costumes for more than 345 productions including 50 world premieres. His designs for Grapes of Wrath were nominated for Tony Awards in the categories of Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design. Along with his active professional design career, Mr. Rigdon is professor and scenic artist at the University of Houston.

At the Annual Meeting of the Institute, USITT Secretary Patricia Dennis will announce newly elected officers and Directors at Large. Interim Treasurer Travis DeCastro will report on the financial health of the organization. Michelle L. Smith will be honored for having served USITT as Membership & Ad Sales Manager for 10 years. This All-Conference event begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 19.

Party time!

Let's meet at the 2008 Opening Night Party Wednesday evening where seasoned conventioneers get reacquainted and extend a special welcome to newcomers and guests. Please come; a rollicking good time is had by all.

Stage Expo

Don't miss the always-exciting, never predictable Grand Opening of the 2008 USITT Stage Expo on Thursday, March 15 at 9:30 a.m. and enjoy the trade show produced by Stage Expo Manager Helen Willard. This is a great opportunity to get acquainted with exhibitors representing all areas of our industry as they unveil products, old and new. Stage Expo will dazzle and delight professional and student members alike. At the USITT Boutique, you may purchase, fresh off the press, our fourth monograph, The Designs of Abe Jacob by Rick Thomas, the Golden Pen-winning George Tsypin Opera Factory: Building in the Black Void, and more. As a bonus, several authors will be available at special times to sign books.

Come and learn more about our international offerings at the All-Conference Reception and Fellows Address with Past President Leon Brauner and VP International Activities Alexandra Bonds discussing "USITT Internationally: Here, There, and Everywhere." This will be followed by the USITT Awards for Young Designers & Technicians in the Performing Arts with examples of their enthralling work accompanying the presentation.

Swag Fest!!!

Following Thursday's All Conference Event, grab a coveted front row seat for the wildly popular New Products Showcase and participate as inimitable Emcee Richard Durst and Co. and our exhibitors launch (often literally) new product lines and offer free samples which often creates an audience frenzy. If you are lucky, you might take home some amazing swag! There is always an element of drama associated with this event. For example, last year Elynmarie Kazel, who has for years assisted Emcee Durst as the "Vanna White" of New Products Showcase, was unable to attend the conference. Thus, those attending the event were treated to the opportunity to see interim treasurer Travis DeCastro pay homage to Elynmarie. In order not to disappoint her fans, Travis dressed as Elynmarie. Come and see how the event organizers top that in 2008!

Last but Not Least!

Don't miss the final event of the 2008 Annual Conference & Stage Expo, where we share our experiences and celebrate another successful conference, as we honor the giants in our industry -- Happy Hour and the Awards Banquet. Meet the celebrities and join in the salute to the best and brightest as USITT presents its coveted Architecture Awards, Golden Pen Award, and Live Design's 2008 Rising Star Award, and congratulate our incoming USITT president Carl Lefko as the gavel passes.

As the Conference draws to a close, I hope you find yourself invigorated, excited, and better informed. You will have visited with old friends, made new ones, and met famous and legendary members of our profession. You will find that, as is observed in the movie Six Degrees of Separation, "Every person is a new door to a different world."

To Top