Approximately 200 theatre professionals, educators, and students visit Blinn College-Brenham for regional symposium

‘It was really nice showing that we do the same things that undergraduates and graduate students do at four-year programs,’ says sophomore Ilana Ariel

February 6, 2018

Sam Quick

The Blinn College-Brenham Campus Theatre Arts Program recently hosted close to 200 theatre arts professionals, faculty, and students at the Dr. W.W. O’Donnell Performing Arts Center for the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology – Southwest (SWUSITT) Regional Winter Symposium.

Blinn College Technical Theatre Arts Director Kevin Patrick serves as the Vice President of Communications for SWUSITT, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting theatre design, technology, and education. Each year members of the SWUSITT, which serves Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma, join for the Winter Symposium to participate in workshops, a keynote speech, and a student design, technology and management competition.

“Several workshop presenters and members of the SWUSITT board pulled me aside to praise Blinn students for their willingness to work hard and the attentiveness and promptness of their work during the symposium,” Patrick said. “The students largely are responsible for how smoothly the symposium ran.”

Sophomore Ilana Ariel said, “I am really proud of the Theatre Department at Blinn, so it was really nice showing that we do the same things that undergraduate and graduate students do at four-year programs.”

Brenham Campus part-time instructor and costume designer Jennifer Patrick, Bryan Campus Theatre Arts Director Greg Wise, and Brenham Campus Theatre Arts Director Brad Nies assisted Kevin Patrick in hosting the event.

Michael Burkett, Director of Theatre Operations for Broadway in Chicago, served as keynote speaker.

“I really enjoyed his speech,” Ariel said. “We got to hear more about the technical and acting side of the industry. We learned more about the business that we want to get into and how much work goes into it.”

The symposium featured 34 workshops, including “Ice Dying,” a fun way to create an organic texture for fabric, and “Kitchen Cabinet Make-up Techniques,” both presented by Jennifer Patrick. Wise presented “Getting the Most out of Rehearsals,” a workshop discussing fresh ideas to bring out young performers’ full potential.

In addition, students presented their work in the Student Design, Technology, and Management Competition by using display boards, photographs, research images, concept statements, draftings and drawings, and work samples. Industry professionals from across the country asked questions and provided feedback, and honored the best in each area with a certificate and tangible award.

“I helped time the judges in the competition and that helped me prepare for next year because I want to present something on the technical side,” student Jaci Weidemann said. “I enjoyed seeing other people present and what the judges looked for. It really helped me get ideas for next year.”

The Blinn-Brenham theatre arts season, “Lights Out: A Season of Dark Tales,” continues Feb. 22-25 with “Black Comedy” by Peter Shaffer.

The Blinn Theatre Arts Program produces at least eight productions each year on its Brenham and Bryan campuses and offers a quality educational foundation through study, application and experience. For more information, visit:

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