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Two from Theatre/Stage Design Win All-Expenses Paid Trips to LDI Vegas

Clarke, Frank headed to stage tech industry’s biggest annual event

Image from Luther Frank lighting design, set to Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk.”

If you’re a mover in the lighting design world, the annual LDI conference is the place to be. Over 10,000 stage design pros from all over the globe will gather in Las Vegas October 19-25 to see the latest gear, strut their stuff and hobnob with the industry illuminati.

This year, two students from the SMU Meadows M.F.A. theatre/stage design program will be attending the prestigious conference courtesy of two stage lighting industry titans, High End Systems of Austin and ETC of Middleton, Wis.

Luther Frank
Luther Frank, M.F.A. Theatre/ Stage Design '15, will compete live against Carnegie Mellon and Webster University at the 2015 LDI.

Luther Frank (’15) will be at the High End booth as one of three national finalists in High End’s annual Hog Factor competition, for which Frank programmed a winning light show set to Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk featuring Bruno Mars. He will be competing live at the High End booth against teams from Carnegie Mellon and Webster University for High End’s grand prize: a $44,000 Hog 4 lighting console, additional gear and a $20,000 scholarship for SMU Meadows. (Read a Q & A with Luther Frank about the Hog Factor competition.)

Kolby Clarke (’17) will be in attendance as a recipient of ETC’s 2015 LDI Student Scholarship and will attend seminars, take in LDI events and network with industry leaders.

Kolby Clarke
As a 2015 ETC Student Scholarship recipient, Kolby Clarke, M.F.A. Theatre/ Stage Design ’17, will be mentored by a leader in the industry during 2015-16.

“Luther and Kolby are the latest in a long line of talented graduates of the M.F.A. stage design program making their mark in the profession,” says Steve Woods, professor and head of stage design at SMU Meadows’ Division of Theatre.

Woods notes that Clarke is the fourth Meadows M.F.A. student to have been designated as an ETC LDI Student Scholarship recipient. The honor was awarded to Christopher Ham in 2005, Lois Catanzaro in 2007 and Ethan Steimel in 2011. Steimel says his trip to LDI 2011 was invaluable. “Seeing the equipment that was coming on the market helped me keep pace with industry peers,” he says. “Knowing is half the battle and that trip helped keep me aware of available resources.” Steimel now assists on off-Broadway productions and designs musicals and plays in New York City.

Woods adds that there is one particularly valuable component to the ETC scholarship beyond the all-expenses paid trip to LDI. “ETC will pair Kolby with a prominent lighting designer who will mentor him all during the year,” says Woods. “Not only will Kolby have an opportunity to converse with this designer on a regular basis, commercial doors on both coasts will be opened to him as a result of this relationship.”

Over the years, the Meadows program’s students have gone on to work in all aspects of both the entertainment and educational arenas. In addition to the program’s rigorous on-campus training and industry-recognized faculty, Woods says the partnerships forged with professional companies in Dallas give the students extra depth.

“Part of the success of the graduate training program in design is our partnership with the Dallas Theater Center, Undermain Theatre, Dallas Opera, Kitchen Dog Theater, Amphibian Productions, Shakespeare Dallas, Trinity Shakespeare Festival and Philips Vari*Lite,” says Woods. “Each of these organizations has created opportunities for our students to work with both nationally and internationally recognized designers, engineers, programmers and directors.

“These organizations provide a rich theatre environment outside the classroom and have been generous in working with us to place students in learning opportunities.”

The M.F.A. in stage design program was established in 1964 and is entering its 51st year.

Read more about the SMU Meadows M.F.A. in Theatre/Stage Design.

Read more about Luther Frank and Kolby Clarke and see examples of their work.

Read more about the 2015 LDI Conference, High End Systems and ETC Electronic Theatre Controls.

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