USITT Elite Training – Day 1

It’s 1:12AM here in Vegas. I just finished the day and I am back at the hotel. Whew, was I mentally out of shape for today’s events. We started at 9AM with great welcoming to the training center by Cirque Du Soleil’s very own Kim Scott, Director of Show Support Resident Shows Division. Followed by that was an inspiring and warming presentation by Calum Pearson, Senior Director of Technical and Show Support. And by 10AM we were off to our respective classrooms for the first session of classes.

That’s when I met my instructor Alex Hitchcock, Training Development Manager for Stage Technologies. He is a great guy with a passion to share his knowledge. The first 3 hours were jammed pack with basic facts and examples of who, when, where, why, and how automation is used across our industry. One of the facts that truly stuck with me is that the automation industry is on the rise at about 15% PER YEAR! That kind of growth for any industry is spectacular.

After enjoying a wonderful lunch provided by Cirque, we were back to the classroom for a brief overview on all the components of an automation system and a basic overview of the eChameleon, the software used in Stage Technology’s control desks.

Then it was off to our first backstage tour. The show… KÀ. I had seen the show once before during LDI last fall and I was just stunned at the amount of production value this show contained. As described by our guide, this show is the show of mosts, firsts and onlys. It is most expensive show ever, has biggest seamless scrim anywhere, and the list goes on and on. What was the most fascinating and jaw dropping however, was that the stage ‘void’ was really a small fraction of the theatre space. Backstage employees and performers have to constantly go up and down elevators and stairs of the spaces 9 floors! This is such a big element of the show, they even had to add the elevator as apart of the cue stack to ensure performers and technicians get to where they need to be when they need to be there. If you ever get the chance, meet someone who works at KÀ and persuade them to get you a tour of the space. We were lucky enough to see them do all the pre-show checks, which were educational, fun and mildly amusing… “THIS IS THE VOICE OF GOD. TESTING”

That was the end of the Elite Training Weekend itinerary. But after all it’s all about networking. A small group of us, Bryce Munro, Timothy Pedro and myself attended Blue Man Group, laughing our tired butts off the entire time.

All in all it was a great first day. Tomorrow we will be in front of the control desks in class and touring Viva Elvis later. As well I have two job shadows of KÀ that evening.

We’re staying busy here, so I apologize for the delay of these posts.

Thanks to everyone involved with putting this program together, and a special thanks to David Grindle, Executive Director of USITT, for pushing this thru. And of course to you guys, the readers.