"Steel the Arts" was the all-too-appropriate theme for the annual Conference and Stage Expo of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT), held in the former Steel City of Pittsburgh, March 19-22. Thousands of visitors steeled themselves for non-stop days of workshops, seminars, parties, reunions, and doing business on the trade show floor.
Actually, the festivities got underway a few days early, on March 16, with the 10th World Congress of OISTAT (International Organization of Stage Designers, Theatre Architects, and Technicians). The highlight of the conference, which is held once every four years in a different international location, came on March 17 when a glittering panel which included dance/theatre LD Jennifer Tipton, along with scenic designer Michael Levine, opera director Robert Carsen, and multimedia designer Laurie-Shawn Borzovoy discussed the impact of new technologies on the performing arts. Audience members provided a lively debate that lasted all day and into the night. On March 18, several countries were admitted into OISTAT, including Cuba, Estonia, Latvia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Yugoslavia, and Richard Durst, former USITT president, was elected president of OISTAT, replacing Helmut Grosser, who had held that position for 19 years.
Beginning on the 18th, the USITT conference got underway, with the usual wide assortment of workshops and seminars. LD Imero Fiorentino, this year's Distinguished Lighting Designer, discussed his career. London-based LD Rick Fisher talked about the new directions in lighting design. A roundtable titled "Light, Sound, and Transitions" grappled with the relationship between light and sound and transitions between scenes. Television LD Dennis Size used the facilities of local station WQED to run a day-long workshop on "The Art and Technique of Television Lighting," while another group got together at Ohio State University for "Automated Lighting in Education: Collaborative Student Projects."
One of the most interesting events of the entire week was the International Theatre Design Charette, sponsored by OISTAT, USITT, and the American Society of Theatre Consultants (ASTC). In this event, several teams consisting of at least one architect and one theatre consultant, plus others (lighting designers, technical directors, directors), were given whimsical descriptions of proposed theatre projects, then had two hours to come up with plans, drawings, rationales, and other materials. The result was several ingenious buildings which were then presented to the whole group, and put on display on the trade show floor.
The trade show ran March 20-22, and included dozens of companies well-known to readers of Lighting Dimensions. Numerous awards were handed out at the concluding banquet, including a special citation to Fred Foster, president of Electronic Theatre Controls, "for significant contributions to the advancement of equipment design and manufacturing in the field of lighting technology for the performing arts."
Next year's USITT Conference and Stage Expo will be held at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center and Hyatt Regency Hotel, in Long Beach, CA, March 18-21. For more information, call 800/93USITT.