Theater students attend tech conference in Kentucky

By Roo Rusk, Staff Writer

Three of Newman’s theater students recently took a 16-hour field trip. Students James Leggett, Keean Bush and Elijah Spellman-Sak recently travelled with Technical Director and Designer Dan Williams and his wife Denise to a technical theater conference held by The United States Institute for Theatre Technology from March 13-16 in Louisville, Kentucky.

All students involved were theatre majors looking to gain more knowledge on technical theater.

“It’s great for anybody who’s involved in theatre. There’s a lot of focus on tech. How else do you become a well-rounded person in your industry? By knowing every aspect of it,” Leggett said.

Travel expenses and conference fees were funded largely by the “Theatre Soup Kitchen” fundraiser run by Williams, Leggett and other volunteers. In addition to basic concession snacks, the booth sold new types of soup each Wednesday throughout the school year for $2 a bowl. Due to the success of the soup kitchen this year, the theatre department plans to host a similar type of fundraiser next year.

Newman University and Southwestern College students travelled and roomed together in a local Airbnb house in Louisville.

The conference and its events offered information on topics such as tools, building materials, costuming, makeup, lighting, sound, special effects, fog machines, light boards and more. It included such events as workshops, classes and keynote speakers for the various schools and production institutes in attendance looking to promote their interests or grow in the industry.

Many businesses there look to recruit potential employees, so the event also serves as a type of career fair.

“Career opportunities also abound at this conference. All of the major cruise lines are there in interviewing for technical theater help as well as many regional summer stock theater companies. Disney, Opryland, Dollywood and Cedar Point Amusement are also there interviewing applicants,” Williams said.

Leggett said he saw the conference as the perfect opportunity to network with professionals.

“The first guy I talked to was from Kadan Productions out of New Jersey. He did the sets for ‘Lip Sync Battle,’ and I got to sit there and talk to him and he was like, ‘Yeah I’ve got pictures with LL Cool J.’”

PHOTO: THEATER STUDENTS Keean Bush (left), James Leggett (middle), and Elijah Spellman-Sak (right) travelled 16 hours to a tech conference. Courtesy Photo, James Leggett