Seven Northern Michigan University students attended the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology’s Annual Conference & Stage Expo March 8-11 in St. Louis, Mo. The group was led by Assistant Professor David Pierce, who said USITT is the technical theater industry’s “largest and most respected conference.” Students attended sessions and workshops led by some of the industry’s leading professionals and talked with exhibitors about the latest innovations and services.
“In addition to the conference, I arranged for them to get a backstage tour and have a Q&A session with the national touring company of Cabaret, which was in town at the Fox Theatre,” said Pierce, technical director and production manager for the Forest Roberts Theatre. “One student was also allowed to shadow the stage manager as he called the show that evening. It was a great experience for our students to get an idea of what it’s like to work on a professional tour and how to find employment after graduation.”
The trip was supported by student travel funds provided through the NMU Foundation. In a thank-you letter on behalf of the group, theater and entertainment arts student Anna LaBreche described the conference as a wonderful, hands-on learning opportunity.
“We were able to talk to professional theater companies such as Cirque du Soleil and gain knowledge of different unions within the theater world,” LaBreche wrote. “We networked with businesses, not only to learn about products that our theater owns or could own, but also to learn of possible job opportunities in the future. And we had the chance to shake the hands of people who were once in our position as students, but are now industry professionals.”