Hello everyone! This is my first “real” post – I’ve spent so much time obtaining and troubleshooting our internet connection and helping others work the blog that I haven’t been able to do it myself! Finally though I got a free moment so I wanted to share some thoughts on the conference so far and some of my favorite sessions I attended.

The conference has been a fantastic learning experience so far, and has really changed the way I think of myself as a designer and director already. I’m looking into new ways to integrate technology into my workflow and be more aware of technology as a designer. While in the computer world I tend to be competent and generally “tech-savvy”, I’m not necessarily as tech-savvy when it comes to the incredible range of theatre technologies. I certainly can’t match the knowledge of Andy and Katie G., our resident technicians! Design in theatre is deeply integrated with technology, and while you can get by without fully understanding it, you can accomplish more if you understand it. One particular interest of mine is motion controlled scenery and the ways that type of automation can be integrated into a choreographed design, and that is certainly a technology-heavy element.

I attended a session today called “Theatres as a Catalyst for City Revival”, which described the ways by which theatre development projects help to revitalize cities. A consultant shared his thoughts on how theatre acts as a community center and ‘nexus of creativity and innovation’ in communities. By building community outreach and education into programming, theatres can create more value to patrons and give them reasons to visit outside of the traditional structure of a performance.  Our campus’s Center for the Arts offers many of these functions, but perhaps more attention could be paid to using the Center in broader educational outreach to communities that aren’t explicitly within the University. The speaker spoke of four key areas that arts centers act as: the cornerstones of communities, community redevelopment catalysts, the Art Centers as magnets for the community, and a incubator and educator.

Additionally, we saw a presentation by the lighting designer of the Beijiing Olympics. The designer, Mr. Sha Xialolan spoke about the massive scale of the opening ceremonies, which required a crew of over 300 people on lighting alone! And while we often get stressed on our projects with several hundred lights, this designer had to deal with several thousand lights! This is very tough to comprehend – it’s a staggering amount of information! In addition, he had to cope with projection around the top of the Bird’s Nest stadium, which prevented him from keeping his lights at high intensities for those portions of the show.

Those are just a few of the sessions we’ve been attending. Additionally we’ve been visiting and learning from vendors on the Stage Expo floor, poking around Cincinnatti’s theatres, and coming up with crazy hare-brained schemes for Buffalo theatre.

It’s been an exciting conference so far and I’m thrilled for the rest!