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Bill Sapsis was introduced by Joe Aldridge as one of four new Fellows at a ceremony that concluded the Annual Fellows Address in 2009. Sonny Sonnenfeld gave the 2009 Fellows Address.

Photo/Casey Kearns

Bill Sapsis, New Fellow

Joe Aldridge

The next new Fellow has been in the entertainment business since 1972. In that time, he has run the gamut of technical positions from company driver to technical director at a number of institutions across the country. His work on Broadway includes the original productions of Chorus Line and The Runner Stumbles.

In 1981, he started his own company, and since then the company has grown from a two-person operation installing manual rigging systems to a multi-faceted installation/production/service company with clients on four continents. His commitment to safety-related issues in the entertainment business is well established and his articles on rigging and safety issues can be found in numerous entertainment industry publications while his lectures can be heard all over the world. He recently organized and offered the first North American Theater Engineering and Architecture Conference, which was patterned after two previous Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conferences held in the United Kingdom.

"It is the mission of the North American Theater Engineering and Architecture Conference (NATEAC) to promote communication between the architects, engineers, consultants, and manufacturers responsible for designing and building new theatres and renovating existing facilities in North America. It is also our goal to promote a higher level of interaction between these professionals and the end users of their facilities."

The conference was so successful that it will be repeated in 2012. You also can find him participating as vice president of the board of directors for Theatre Circ, a children's theatre group in Philadelphia. He is also on the advisory board of Stage Directions Magazine as well as the New York City Technical College. He recently joined the ranks of the published; his book, Heads! & Tales: Uncle Bill’s Musings on the Theatrical Experience, was published in 2007. It is a re-working of articles he has written on the subject of safety in the theatre, an issue that he holds near and dear to his heart. He dedicates his booths at LDI and USITT to raising money for Behind the Scenes and for Broadway Cares, two charitable organizations that benefit people in the entertainment industry.

He has served as a Director at Large on the USITT Board of Directors, representing our commercial members’ interests. He has been active in programming for many of the Commissions at USITT conferences. He has hosted the annual “Stump the Rigger” session where members can bring questions regarding safe rigging practices before a panel of experts for discussion. He has been an avid sponsor and supporter of the Student Tech Olympics competition at the conferences, furnishing prizes and trophies as awards to the winners. He is co-chairperson of the ESTA Technical Standards Program Rigging Working Group, which is responsible for developing and writing standards to be used in the entertainment industry. Similarly, he, as a member of the ETCP Certification Council, is a co-chair of the Rigging Skills Working Group and a Subject Matter Expert in the development of the ETCP Rigger certifications.

His dedication to this industry and to his profession is evident by his inability to say “no” to just about any cause or worthwhile project. He is an ardent supporter of USITT, volunteering to serve on committees, chair programming sessions, and spearheading new initiatives. His work is an inspiration to young technicians entering the profession. It is with great pleasure that I introduce Bill Sapsis as the newest Fellow of USITT. Bill, could you join me on the stage.

Bill Sapsis was one of four new Fellows to be inducted in a ceremony at the 2009 Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. The honorary designation is given to those selected by vote of the current Fellows and is bestowed for life upon those members who have made a truly outstanding contribution to the theatre and the work of the Institute.

Click their names to read the introductory remarks about the other new Fellows, Laura Crow, Louis Bradfield, and Carl Lefko.

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