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For the Record

Joe Tilford’s design for Nine is one of several which will be highlighted in a special exhibit of his work at the 2010 USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Kansas City, Missouri.

Many Special Exhibits Planned for Kansas City

Daniel Denhart
VP-Special Operations

As planning continues for the 2010 Annual Conference & Stage Expo in Kansas City, Missouri, participants will be treated to a memorable Design Expo. In celebration of USITT’s 50 years, organizers are pulling out all the stops featuring the work of two accomplished designers in addition to the traditional entries. The work of John Ezell and Joe Tilford will be exhibited.

Back by popular demand (with an all new line-up), the design work of one of America’s most influential designers will be featured in Bold Strokes and Finesse: The Stage Designs of John Ezell, The Sequel. Many will remember the impressive Bold Strokes Exhibit in Phoenix in 2007; this exhibit continues the journey. The exhibit will include new works since 2007 of sketches, models, and renderings encompassing Mr. Ezell’s work in regional and international theatres.

The Designs of Joe Tilford is the second showcase exhibit planned for Design Expo. Mr. Tilford is recognized as a designer of remarkable vision and talent. The selections in this exhibit show some of the principles and signature elements that have elevated him as a unique and visionary artist of the American professional theatre. This collection of theatrical design has an overarching theme characteristic of Mr. Tilford’s stage designs – careful attention to detail, elimination of the unnecessary, and visual richness that, while giving the audience very specific visual information, allows room for imagination.

Mr. Tilford’s designs often demonstrate his love for natural objects. He designs with a passion toward taking objects out of their natural context. By placing these objects in a new context, they gain a special significant emphasis.

In his groundbreaking design for the world premiere of One, Mr. Tilford’s use of handwritten Civil War love letters etched in glass panels evokes history, fantasy, longing, and mystery. In the last two minutes of this play, the set’s black tile floor becomes transparent glass suspended over a lush meadow of wildflowers, the letters on the wall panels seem to disappear, and a beautiful sunset sky is revealed. The play then rushes to the blackness of night, and ends leaving the audience in the darkened theatre.

In celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Institute, the Commissions are rising to the occasion.

The Costume Commission presents a retrospective look at costuming at the Kansas City Rep since its inception and humble beginnings as the Missouri Rep, nearly 50 years ago. It will feature, among others, the costume designs of Vincent Scassellati.

The Lighting Commission is creating the Five Decades of Lighting Technology. Attendees will be able to view fixtures, dimmers, control systems, and color media as it evolved throughout the last 50 years.

In response to request for more hands-on exhibits at Stage Expo, the Technical Production Commission is preparing not one, but two hand-on technology exhibits. Stop by and participate in destructive product testing, PLC automation control, and winch assembly.

It wouldn’t be a party without Tech Expo so, the Technical Productions Commission is putting together an exhibit that will recreate several projects that were highlights of former Tech Expos.

Not to be outdone, the Scene Design Commission is mounting three exhibits this year. As described in former Sightlines articles, The False Faces of WT Benda exhibit is bringing an eclectic collection of masks by Wladyslaw Theodore Benda to the conference. The Evolution of a Designer exhibit will showcase the development of the professional designer focusing on the notion that “we all start somewhere.” By the Hand of a Scenic promises to be a stunning visual presentation of scenic art at Stage Expo.

The USA-USITT Design Team is preparing an exhibition designed to create excitement for the USITT-USA entry to the upcoming Prague Quadrennial exhibition in the summer of 2011, and the International Commission Exhibit will present the Gold Medal Award-winning designs from the recent 2009 World Stage Design.

A USITT Timeline is being constructed so participants can reminisce about their involvement in the Institute and the developments that have transpired. The Architecture Commission will exhibit the Architecture Award winners this year, and the Stage Manager Mentoring Project is planning an exhibit depicting the history of its activities.

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