USITT: Technical Theatre Job and Internship Fair

Photo courtesy of Hanna Da'mes

Hanna Da’mes, Staff Writer |

On February 10, SUNY Oneonta’s Theatre department hosted the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Job Fair for the third consecutive year. Students from a variety of SUNY schools arrived to discover the opportunities that the organization provides. They were given a chance to submit resumes to different theatre companies, hear a speech from the executive director of the USITT, and participate in workshops from professional technicians. The event started at 8:30 a.m. and went well into the evening, giving students a full day to explore technical theatre. USITT was created to develop industry-wide standards that will help improve the quality and safety of technical equipment for theatre companies.

SUNY Oneonta’s Matt Grenier, Assistant Technical Director for the Theatre department, was a large contributor to the coordination of the event. As a host representative and filling in for a member on the section board, Grenier worked closely with the N.Y. regional section representing this occasion. This included reaching out to employers such as Syracuse Stage and Hangar Theatre so that students could have a chance to submit their resumes.

Once interested participants submitted their resumes, everyone gathered in the Goodrich Theater to listen to the section board while employers looked over the resumes. Matt Grenier was first to speak, and he gave a rundown of the schedule for the day and also announced the inclusion of a raffle for a ticket to the National Conference next year. Trish Ralph, Scenic Designer and Theatre Department Chair at the College of Brockport, introduced the rest of the executive committee and spoke about the function of USITT.

Adam Zonder, Production Manager and Executive Technical Director at Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, N.Y., generously agreed to give an extensive speech in which he provided the students with tips on resumes, interviewing, and having a job or internship in theatre. One of the interesting pieces of advice that Zonder gave to his audience was to use real resume paper if submitting a resume at a conference. He added the idea of using a beige color because white can be too straining on the eyes of the employers as they look over dozens of resumes at conferences such as this one.

The next speaker was the Executive Director of USITT, David Grindle, with the keynote speech. Grindle spoke of his discovery of backstage work in high school, and his admiration of the hard work and dedication of stage managers in theatre. He emphasized the importance of networking in theatre, and how through the nature of the industry, making friends is not only essential but inevitable. “USITT gives you personal connections,” Grindle stressed.

He addressed the lack of diversity in the technical theatre industry, as it is primarily comprised of white men. One of USITT’s main goals is to be inclusive, a place that could potentially change the underrepresentation of women and people of color in the industry. David Grindle then went on to tell specific stories of people of color who have made a lasting impact on the organization.

Lunch was provided, and then the employers from their respective companies came out to post the interview schedules. Workshops were also available as something productive and informational for the students and faculty to do in between interviews, including a costuming workshop, a lighting workshop, and many lectures on specific aspects of USITT. The conference was a great way for students interested in the field of technical theatre to gain access to the many opportunities a USITT membership has to offer. Even outside of the membership, students are given chances to interview with big name theatre companies, bringing  them closer to possible internships and jobs.

For more information on USITT, visit www.usitt.org.

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