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Where Were You in 1960?

Carl Lefko
USITT President

There were eight forward-thinking visionaries in 1960 who together signed the certificate of incorporation for the United States Institute for Theatre Technology on September 21, 1960. This was the culmination of a process to create such an organization and began a long and storied history for the Institute.

During our celebration you will hear numerous stories about our first 50 years, and our archivist, Richard Stephens, is hard at work collecting and writing about those years. When you hear or read about our history, it is important to remember that few of these founding fathers are with us today.

We are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Joel E. Rubin, Past President, Fellow, recipient of Lifetime membership in USITT, and still an active member of the Institute who will deliver the Fellows address in 2010. This blockbuster event will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening, March 31. Following the address, those attending will watch the passing of the gavel of office from some of our earliest presidents, to those who served in our middle and later years, and ending with the passing of the gavel to President Elect Joe Aldridge.

I invite you to ask yourself  "Where were you during that memorable year of 1960?"

I am sure that few of us knew that we would follow a career in theatre or be connected to the entertainment industry. I was not even old enough to know that I needed a career.

Doing the math shows that there were very few of us, in 1960, who were in a position to join our founders in their quest to create an organization:

  • to conduct research and investigation in the field of theatre planning and design, construction, equipment, presentation, and operation
  • to publish, when possible, and disseminate the results of studies
  • to assist in the establishment of contact between members of the Corporate, and the personnel of such members for the better interchange of knowledge in the field of theatre technology
  • to recommend practices in the field of theater planning and design, construction, equipment, presentation, and operation, based on the experience of those engaged in living theatre, both dramatic and musical, on all levels as developed by research and investigation in those fields
  • to provide representation and participation in Conferences, assemblies, and other gatherings where matters of theatre planning and design, construction, equipment, presentation and operation are discussed.

This vision has driven us for 50 years, and we now have over 3,800 members who have joined the institute and are nurturing the dreams of these forward-thinking visionaries. Many of our current members were not even born when these seeds were planted, yet they can benefit from the magic of these dreams, and their numbers speak to the significance and impact USITT has on our industry.

As we celebrate our first 50 years in Kansas City, we need to celebrate our past accomplishments. That’s the easy part. We also must continue building on the dreams that began in 1960, as the organization and its guiding spirits work diligently to secure our future.

Bold ideas have been and continue to be the cornerstone for success.

I look forward to joining you in Kansas City to celebrate our past and dream for our future.


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