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New USITT Fellows
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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record

Jerry Gorrell, right, was introduced as a new Fellow of the Institute by Mitch Hefter, left. Mr. Hefter gave the introductory remarks for Mr. Gorrell as well. Names of new Fellows are kept secret until the presentation ceremony at USITT's Annual Conference.

Photo/Tom Thatcher

Jerry Gorrell, New Fellow

Mitch Hefter
USITT Fellow

It is my honor to introduce our next new Fellow of the Institute. I have had the privilege of knowing this new Fellow for over 20 years. He has recently retired, and does like to remind me of that fact from time to time. He points out his challenge on a busy day -- whether to forgo the morning nap or the afternoon nap. However, he is quite busy working on Institute and ESTA projects and rarely gets to take any of those naps.

Jerry Gorrell received his bachelor's degree from the Goodman School of Drama in technical production. He then taught lighting design in Chicago, designed lighting at the Dunes Summer Theatre, and went back to Goodman as a lighting designer, electronics engineer, and studio theatre technical director.

In 1976, Jerry went to work for the City of Phoenix and shortly thereafter joined the Civic Plaza Department technical section as a production supervisor. Jerry advanced to assistant technical director, and eventually technical director. Some of the projects in which Jerry has contributed include the original expansion of the Civic Plaza Convention Center (site of last year's Annual Conference & Stage Expo), the Orpheum Theatre restoration, the creation and development of the Herberger Theater Center, and two separate renovations of Symphony Hall.

Throughout his career with the City of Phoenix, he educated not only staff in his venues, but the industry in general, on the importance of health and safe practices. Jerry's emphasis on training has been instrumental in ensuring a standard of professionalism and excellence.

One example several years back illustrates his influence on his staff. A show came into one of the City of Phoenix venues and was planning on flying performers with some highly inappropriate hardware. The city staff disapproved and told the show "no way." The show crew said, "We do this all the time." The city staff still would not allow it; the show crew said, "Let me talk to your boss." To which the staff replied, "You really don't want to do that." But the show crew insisted. They spoke with Jerry, and stated they do this all the time -- just like Peter Foy does. Jerry said, "Oh really? I know Peter; let's call him and discuss it." Jerry picked up the phone and started dialing Peter -- from memory -- and the show crew realized they should have listened to the city staff. The show crew agreed not to do the flying.

As I noted before, Jerry manages to keep quite busy in his retirement. In addition to his Theatre Safety Programs consultancy, which deals with entertainment industry loss prevention, accident investigation, safety program development, and safety training, some of Jerry's activities include representing USITT on the ESTA Technical Standards Committee, serving as ESTA's Technical Standards Coordinator where he represents ESTA's Technical Standards Program to several organizations and assists ESTA Technical Standards Manager Karl Ruling, co-chairing the Floors Working Group, and chairing the ESTA Photometrics Working Group.

Jerry is involved with the International Society for Fall Protection, is an associate member of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, and is affiliated with the American Society of Safety Engineers, the National Fire Protection Association, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, the Educational Theatre Association, United Scenic Artists IATSE Local 829, and IAAM. Jerry has been a member of USITT for over 30 years. He became very active in the Engineering Commission and helped establish the USITT Standards program, which he has chaired since its inception.

He has served as Engineering Co-Commissioner, Commissioner, and is now a Vice-Commissioner. He also serves as Associate TD&T Editor for Engineering. Jerry has presented numerous sessions at USITT Annual Conferences, and was the leader of the original USITT Electrical Workshop in 1991. He now co-chairs these workshops with Fellows Ken Vannice and Mitch Hefter.

Jerry was one of the first Entertainment Technician Certification Program (ETCP) Recognized Trainers and is the only one who is recognized for two disciplines -- Electrical and Rigging.

I have learned a lot from Jerry over the years and am honored to have him as a friend. In conclusion, when one thinks of standards and safety in our industry, several names should come immediately to mind. Included in this list (and forgive me if I have missed someone) are Fellows Randy Davidson, the late Richard Thompson, Jay Glerum, Ken Vannice, Steve Terry, myself, and new Fellow Jerry Gorrell.

Thank you -- and congratulations Jerry.

USITT Fellows elected six new members who were announced at the 2008 Annual Conference. The introductions of Joe Aldridge and Bobbi Owen also appear in this issue. Look for the introductions of Pete Happe, Debra Krajec, and Richard Thomas in the May issue.

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