August 2022 Edition
In This Issue:

• From Our President

• Rigging Safety

• Re-Learning How To Be An Audience Member

• Who Needs Designers and Technicians?

• 13 Pitfalls of Community Theatre

• 'How' of Building Deeper Relationships with Students

• People You Should Know: 2024 IHSTF All-State Production Staff

• Our Corporate Sponsors
From Our President

A Letter from Carmel DeStefano
of the Illinois Theatre Association,
Board President

Dear Members of our Theatre Community;

I hope this letter finds that you are going out and enjoying this balmy summer weather. Isn’t it wonderful that we are once again going out with friends to dinners, concerts, and theatres? Although it seems that Zoom meetings are here to stay, it’s grand that we are also able to meet in person. Well, we on the ITA Board have actually been quite busy planning ways for all of us to get together again.

Improving communication with our fellow theatre artists has been one of our major projects for this year. If you haven’t yet done so, please take a moment to check out the new ITA website. It is a space where we hope to celebrate all of Illinois Theatre. With your help, we hope to become a source for performance information from the five ITA Divisions. Use the link in the weekly Friday Finds to submit your theatre season.

Our Board members have also been developing a calendar of events for the next year. Each division has set up dates for a major and minor event, as well as divisional meetings (on Zoom) to discuss and share ideas with other artists. Stay tuned, the calendar will be posted in August, so you can save those important dates well in advance. I hope you have noticed that the slate for the 2022-2024 Board of Directors has been posted on the ITA website. The election ballot will be sent on September 1 to all active ITA members. Be sure to vote!

As we enter our 50th year as an association, we are also looking at the past of the ITA as a guide and inspiration for the future. To facilitate this task, a new committee has been formed consisting of retired officers and members called The Emeritus Group. This group is hoping to construct a narrative of how the ITA began and grew through the years. These members would also like to serve as mentors and resources for the new generation of theatre artists. More on that later.

Also in the works is the Illinois High School Theatre Festival slated for January 12 - 14, 2023 at the University of Illinois. The theme chosen by the IHSTF Executive Director, Ryan Lambert, is “Are You Living or Just Existing?” Now, that’s a question we have all been asking ourselves after two years of the pandemic. With the cancellation of the last Festival, the Planning Committee is chomping at the bit to create an event that truly entertains, educates, and inspires our high school students. It will be wonderful seeing all those enthusiastic, young artists together again!

“Together Again” seems to be the theme for the ITA in the coming year. After all the Zoom meetings and virtual performances and workshops of the last two years, it’s time to meet in person! The ITA will kick off this year of live action on September 24, 2022, with “Together Again, a Day Celebrating All Things Theatre!” The day will begin with a welcome and Keynote speech by Michael Novak, the Artistic Director for the Paul Taylor Dance Company. The presentation will be followed by the Annual Membership Meeting where the 2022-2024 Board of Directors will be inducted. At noon an Awards Luncheon will celebrate Excellence in Professional, College, Community, Secondary Education, and Creative Drama theatres. An afternoon of workshops, divisional meetings, and a cocktail hour will round out the afternoon.

Please, plan to get together with us for the first major event of what I hope will be a theatrically packed year! Click on the image below!


Carmel DeStefano
Board President
Rigging Safety
by USITT, Patrick Finn of Wenger Corporation, and Bridget Solini of Athena Theatrical
Submitted by Steven House
ITA College Theatre Division Representative

There is has been an overabundance of well-warranted talk about safety the last couple of years. Then add the shifting of standards and expectations. It can be hard to remember and sometimes care. I am here today reminded that we must take safety into consideration. Not just those related to COVID but basic theatrical safety. The horror of the video of a large video screen falling on performers is a huge reminder that we must rig safely. With that thought, here are videos made by USITT this past year for "Rig Safe Day," which was July 6th. Great for reminders about safe rigging practices. The videos are bite sized and great for students as well.
Re-Learning How To Be An Audience Member
by Ashley Griffin of OnStage Blog
Submitted by David Downing, ITA Creative Drama/Theatre for Young Audiences Division Representative

As we slowly return to "near normal", this article reminds us that we need to retrain audience members on the fundamentals of proper audience behavior
Who Needs Designers and Technicians?
by Tracy Nunnally
ITA Professional Theatre Division Representative

These days, just about everyone! In my role as the Technical Director at NIU, I receive a lot of requests for designers and technicians who will soon be graduating or who are looking for work. Prior to the pandemic, I noticed that the number of requests were beginning to increase, and by January of 2020, they had almost doubled from the year before. As much of the entertainment industry has been shuttered since then, the demand subsided, but in Spring of 2022, the demand jumped significantly.
13 Pitfalls of Community Theatre
by Mike Polo of Community Theatre Green Room
Submitted by Matthew Johnson
ITA Board Member at Large

After just redoing our Bylaws from 1973, many of these items were discussed. I found this article after we were all done with our rewrite. Please enjoy.
'How' of Building Deeper Relationships with Students
by Hoa P. Nguyen, of EdUtopia
Submitted by Deena Cassady
ITA Secondary School Theatre Division Representative

The new school year is just around the corner, and if you are anything like me you’ve been floating in the pool while simultaneously thinking about school. What lessons will I repeat this year? What lessons do I need to reimagine? What play am I going to direct? How will I help my program grow? Sound about right?

This summer I am extra reflective and intentional in my summer planning as I embark on a new journey at a new school after a decade at my old. Today, during new educator orientation, I was fortunate enough to sit and listen to a student panel. We asked the students, “what advice would you give teachers new to your building?” Unanimously down the line students spoke of the power of teachers building relationships with them. They said when they feel loved as a human they are more likely to engage. They mentioned that when teachers take a few minutes to check-in on them or talk about some non-curricular topics such as last night’s big game or the latest current event in pop culture they feel a deeper connection with their teachers and ultimately feel more ready to learn from them.

This shouldn’t be news to us. Artists especially know the power of human connection within arts education but to hear it directly from students made me take pause and reminded me that it’s okay to put the pacing charts and curriculum maps down for a few weeks so that human connection can be the priority.

In Hoa P. Nguyen’s article, “ The ‘How’ of Building Deeper Relationships with Students,” we learn how students can feel safe in school and some strategies to build strong relationships in the classroom that will ultimately lead to deeper learning and understanding.

Take a moment to read as you float in the pool and soak in the last few weeks of summer. Break a leg this school year…you’re going to do great!
People You Should Know: 2024 IHSTF All-State Production Staff
by Mark Begovich
ITA First Vice President

Announcing Some People You Should Know: The 2024 All-State Director and Producers! Most people do not know that the Illinois High School Theatre Festival’s All-State Production takes close to two years to put together. Recently, the ITA Board gave approval for Nathaniel Haywood of Downers Grove South High School to direct the 2024 show. Additionally, David Morrison of Bolingbrook High School and Jessie Lim of Wheaton North High School will serve as producers on the show. They come with a great deal of TheatreFest experience. These are definitely people you should know.
Consider Shopping Amazon to Support the Illinois Theatre Association!
The ITA is supported partially by a grant from: