So, what's USITT? A national organization, the United States Institute of Theater Technology works to annually update the theater world on new design and safety developments in the backstage industry. Each year, USITT holds a national conference (Milwaukee 2013, woohoo!) where large companies from Rosco to Cirque de Soleil display new works and look for future employees. The conference also features loads of informational courses on subjects like knotting techniques, costume materials, time management... and putting on a haunted house!
Our idea started, however, from three girls, one dark dorm room, and a terrifying story. Recently elected USITT officers, Zoe Benditt and Emily Burst, thought to spruce up a boring night with scary stories. Emily went first- and last. Her twenty minute tale of a boy confined to his parents' attic, complete with sound effects and dramatic pauses, left the other two speechlessly clutching one another on the floor. Once her brain thawed from numbing fear, Zoe, with USITT fundraising on the mind, broke the idea: could we do this? The consensus was clear, and the project grew from there.
And it grew for a great cause! Pitt USITT uses all fundraising towards getting members to the national conference described above. The experience for students is a unique one that has greatly influenced those whom have attended. Careers and skills are there to gain: tables on the floor cater to students with resume and portfolio feedback; special sessions teach communication skills, affordable methods of production within university settings, and problem-solving; companies willingly chat up those looking for future work. Pitt USITT itself emphasizes career development to such a degree that club advisor, Annmarie Duggan, creates a business card competition to compel students to network as much as possible.
The benefits for students don't just stop there. The Pitt Theatre Arts department has embraced USITT as a strong undergraduate force, opening up a symbiotic relationship with benefits to all. Students who have never visited our theaters, never shown interest in shows, will be drawn in by this particular production. The department and USITT will not only be then receiving money from new benefactors, but these new patrons may also become interested in future shows. Our horror show has the potential to bring in more immediate money and also promote these future productions, therein bringing in a larger profit later in the year, as well as in future years.
The horror show began as a small club project; it was the department who embraced our idea, and it is the department that has gotten us where we are now.
But here's where we need you! Like we said, the Theatre Arts department has been great in their support. However, the scope of our project is atypical to the usual student-produced season. The $75 we receive is not enough to design and build for 4 spaces. Please give whatever you can (one dollar goes a long way for fake blood) to help USITT students go to the national conference and launch their careers in the backstage theater industry.
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