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Travis DeCastro, left, and Elynmarie Kazle, right, helped Carolyn Satter, center, present the USITT 2008 Distinguished Achievement Award in Theatre Management to Cynthia Poulson. The award was presented posthumously at the 2008 Annual Conference & Stage Expo.

Photo/Tom Thatcher

Cindy Poulson Honored With 2008 Management Award

Elynmarie Kazle
USITT Management Commission

It was a great honor that Travis DeCastro and I were asked to say a few fond words about our friend as the Distinguished Achievement Award 2008 in Theatre Management was presented posthumously to our colleague and good friend Cynthia Poulson at the 48th USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Houston, Texas.

"From the first time I met Cindy, when our USITT conference was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I was struck by her warmth and interest in everything around her. The Management Commission was just starting to develop more of a focus and programs for stage managers at that time, and Cindy helped us set up a very well-attended, local/national stage manager's roundtable forum.

"Looking back, I think there were 50 people crammed into a very small room, including quite a few local stage managers from the Milwaukee area. No one wanted to stop talking; it was such a lively session. By the time it was over, Cindy had disappeared. She was producing an international festival at the college, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, that weekend and had taken time out of her schedule to put the event together with me and help get the ball rolling. The session was very successful, and it gave me, in particular, the confidence to continue to work on developing the stage manager program and raise the profile of stage management within the Institute.

"I made a point to keep in touch with her from then on. She helped launch what has become the Stage Management Mentor Project and, as a first-time stage management mentor for the 1993 Conference in Wichita, she and Travis DeCastro worked together for the first time as part of our mentoring team. From then on, Travis and Cindy became two important "go to" professional resources as we developed the Stage Manager Mentoring project and the SM Roundtables, and increased interest in the stage management field throughout USITT.

"I remember how Cindy helped me find and recruit James Birder to take over the mentoring project (both because it was time and because I was now responsible for a newborn son). Cindy's calm presence at the crazy Las Vegas Conference in 1995 really kept us all together. She was so unassuming, yet students and professionals alike jockeyed for a bit of her attention.

"Cindy was on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee for 15 years. She was active in areas of the theatre department from play selection, to international travel, to student exchanges. At the time of her death, she was a respected member of USITT's Board of Directors, serving her first term as a Director at Large.

"I remember one year when Birder and I went out to dinner with her, I believe it was in Nashville, and Cindy announced it was her birthday, her 50th … just like that. She was always that way. We will all very much miss having her here with us. She made an incredible mark on her students, on her fellow professionals, and on USITT."

The award from USITT reads:

Distinguished Achievement in Theatre Management 2008
presented to Cynthia Poulson
In recognition of her life-long service to theatre and the education of young people in our industry, USITT pays tribute to the legacy of Cynthia Poulson: her mentorship and her achievements as a professional and an educator. May her enthusiasm and love of life remain our one constant, central to the creative and technical success of the work we do.

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Cindy Poulson