Press Releases

Vari-Lite Reaches Out To Next Generation
Published Monday, August 11, 2008
by Angelia Pinaga

DALLAS, TX – August 11, 2008 - Vari-Lite recently teamed up with The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) at the USITT 2008 Southwest Regional Symposium for the opportunity of reaching the next generation of designers. During this Symposium, student Jan-Allen Bowley won the lighting design contest which was one of several categorical contests available for student entry. The lighting design contest prize was sponsored by Vari-Lite. Vari-Lite took this opportunity to be involved with the education of the next generation of technical and design students as part of ongoing outreach efforts.

“I am extremely pleased that Vari-Lite joined the Symposium,” said Jane Childs, Prize Coordinator for the symposium and member of SouthWest USITT. “Vari-Lite worked well for us and the students. These attendees are the future buyers.”

Students from all over the southwest region of the United States-Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico and Texas took part in learning more about the technology and design of theatre.

Bowley recently took advantage of his prize in June which was one seat to the Vari-Lite Technical Training Course at the Dallas manufacturing facility. The hands-on training offered a comprehensive five-day course for the entire VARI-LITE product line. Upon successful completion of the course and an examination, technicians are certified to perform warranty service on the Vari-Lite product line.

“We adore the Vari-Lite equipment,” said Childs. “Vari-Lite is a leader in the industry and we like their equipment because it suites the needs of teaching the students.”

“I was very excited to win the Vari-Lite sponsored prize,” said Bowley. “My interest lies in intelligent lights so being able to attend this class was the best prize I could hope for. I mostly appreciated the fact that the training had an extremely hands-on approach. I learned the proper terms for all those little bits, pieces and parts that I'd been messing with when fixing intelligent lights. I also learned that I'd been doing a lot of repairs the hard way. Being able to dig into the instrument during the training helped me for what I do in the field,” concluded Bowley.

“We want to be able to introduce the Symposium students to new directions and we want them to gain knowledge and skills in the areas of performing arts and the entertainment industry,” said Childs. The Symposium is a bridge between students and the theatre world. “The goal of the competition is for the students to become better designers,” said Childs.  

Bowley entered the competition to gage his skillset as a designer. “I wanted to see what other lighting designers were doing and to see where my skills were in comparison to other designers,” said Bowley. “My entry was A Chorus Line. This was my first theatrical design and the experience was unforgettable.”

To start the competitive experience, students first registered then they set up their work in designated areas. Judges then independently reviewed the entries. Later in the day the students stood by their exhibits for judge interaction.

“Students love this part,” said Childs. “It’s one-on-one. It takes a lot for these students who dare to place their work out for so many others to see it because it’s a risk for these young designers. They do get to compare work to other students, not only design students but also technology students. Childs continued to explain that the students learn from each other through their creative expression based on the input of other student work.

Bowley says that his USITT experience has helped him to network with people from all over the country.

Brandt Gentry, an incoming college sophomore has also had positive networking experiences based on his USITT interactions. The USITT training encourages students to develop in all areas.

Gentry consulted USITT Chairman Don Childs for his opinion on possible career paths. Don Childs recommended that Gentry call some key players at Vari-Lite to discuss a possible internship.  Several calls later Gentry had landed an internship with Vari-Lite for the month of July.

“USITT prepared me for the professional world by giving me real world connections. I was able to get to know people and I’ve been able to find opportunities in the theatre world,” said Gentry.

“My being at Vari-Lite as an intern may set the stage for future interns,” said Gentry. I also think it will open the door for future Vari-Lite product recognition amongst young designers.”

Gentry is learning about Vari-Lite products and how to repair them. “I’m getting a chance to learn a lot,” said Gentry. “Things are going well for me at Vari-Lite.”

It is fortunate that USITT can link students to real world experiences. Students come back to share with USITT after graduate school. But for now, both Bowley and Gentry just want to finish their undergraduate degrees.

Jane Childs looks forward to the SouthWest USITT 2009 technology and design Symposium. “In 2009 we hope to have a greater representation of students and a greater representation from more schools.”

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