USITT: The Super Bowl of theatre technology and design

By Molly Grosskreutz

Arts & Entertainment Editor

More than 25 students and faculty from Viterbo’s theatre department are gearing up for what is equivalent to the Super Bowl of technical theatre.

The momentous event is the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Conference and Stage Expo held this year in Milwaukee March 20-23.

An estimated 5,000 industry experts, educators, students and vendors will swarm Milwaukee’s Delta Center, exchanging ideas, trade secrets and business cards.    It’s a way for those in the theatre industry to learn from one another and is an especially useful networking event for students and young professionals. It’s also the only annual conference that includes all the different aspects of theatre.

Samantha Goessner, a senior theatre major with an emphasis in tech and design from Oconomowoc, Wis., is involved in organizing the trip for her peers. This will be her third time attending the conference since she started at Viterbo, and this time, she’ll be presenting.

“I’m excited because I’m presenting a paper I wrote about digital collaboration and communication called ‘Pinterest in the Production Room,’” Goessner explained. “And it’s cool to see people get excited about this. I’m excited for the freshmen and sophomores to experience it for the first time.”

For Goessner, one of the past highlights of attending the conference was meeting Lady Gaga’s tech rider, the person in charge of informing host venues what Lady Gaga needed to put on her show.

Amanda Rehberg, a junior theatre BFA major with an emphasis in costume design, is also excited to be going to the conference. She’s going two days earlier than everyone else in order to attend a tutu-making workshop.

“It’s a good place to make connections and to learn different techniques,” Rehberg said.

This wonderful opportunity does not come without a price, however. Goessner anticipates high travel and parking expenses.

Theatre students are selling popcorn for $1 in the Fine Arts Center lobby Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11 and 1:30 as a fundraiser to offset the fees of the trip.

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