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Seniors selected for elite USITT theatre technology programs
Radford University Senior theatre major Kyle Gillikin sat behind a series of computers and electronic panels at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dressed in black and wearing a headset, he was an inconspicuous part of a well-refined machine that ran an ongoing series of events at the March 2016 United States Institute for Theatre Technology, Inc. (USITT) annual conference.
While he stage-managed the Early Career Honors event, Gillikin needed to be unobtrusive. He wanted the audience to focus on the show, not his part of it.
His leadership role with the event was part of his participation in a special program called the Stage Management Mentor Project.
“Kyle Gillikin is one of only a handful of young stage managers in the United States selected to participate in the Stage Management Mentor Project,” said Joseph Wirgau, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. His office sponsored Gillikin’s trip, along with that of graduating senior Yaritza Pacheco.
Pacheco participated in the Young Technicians’ Forum. Wirgau said her strong portfolio contributed to her inclusion in this selected pool of young talent. They represent an emerging generation of excellent young theatre artisans.
During Gillikin’s weeklong mentorship, he worked with Trevor Long, production manager for Minneapolis’s internationally acclaimed Guthrie Theatre. Long provided him with guidance and assistance.
Only 13 students and young professionals received the opportunity to take part in practical training experiences during the conference based on a competitive application process. This is how Gillikin became the stage manager for the Early Career Honors ceremony and assistant stage manager for another event.
“I was responsible for running and calling my event, as well as working with an assistant stage manager to make this happen,” he said. “All throughout the whole week our mentor was beside us almost the whole time as someone to offer advice and help guide the way through these major projects. And it wasn’t just our mentors that were with us, but all of the mentors were there for advice whenever we needed it.”
When the participants were not working on their events, they attended special roundtable discussions focused on their career path.
This experience will help him after graduation when Gillikin begins an internship with the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company in Weston, Vermont. There, he will work on two musicals – “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” and “Mamma Mia!”
He credits Radford University Theatre for providing him with more opportunities and experiences on productions than most programs offer their students. The department also encourages students to work in theatre during summers to help build their resumes and to extend their basis of knowledge, better preparing them for full-time professional employment.
“Kyle has proven to be an extraordinarily talented student who has excelled both academically and as a stage manager for both theatre and dance productions here at Radford,” said Carl Lefko, director of the School of Dance and Theatre.