An Illuminating Experience

A group of Upper School students recently visited ETC, a leading manufacturer of lighting equipment, where they learned that you don’t have to be on stage to have a career in the arts.  

ETC’s reception area and offices employ metal scrims, commonly used in theatre productions, to replicate any number of interiors or exteriors depending on how they are lit. “It’s not like your standard factory,” said Alex Coroian ’22. “The CEO’s office looks like the Empire State Building, the finance department was in the façade of a bank, and a lot of the offices have names that mean something special in the company’s history.”

If you’ve ever been to a live theatre performance—including the ones held at University School—there’s a good chance you’ve seen a stage that was illuminated by lighting equipment designed and manufactured by ETC. The company is a global leader in the manufacturing of lighting and rigging technology, employing more than 1,000 people across 10 countries, and is headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin.

Students received a tutorial on how to operate some of ETC’s lighting equipment, which will be useful as they embark on their final project—developing a lighting show and programming it through the light board. “I like that we got to see how everything was made and constructed, and I also liked being shown how to use their light boards and how to start off our projects,” said Mercy Godfrey ’20 (pictured).

Recently, USM’s Technical Theatre Director Jeremy Woods took students in his Stagecraft course on a tour of ETC’s facility, something he has been doing since 2015. In addition to the tour, students also received a tutorial on how to operate the lights. “It’s an invaluable opportunity for students,” he said. “Not only do they get professional training on these light boards that they’ll be using for class, but they also get to see that you don’t have to be a lighting designer—or really even have any interest in lights or theatre at all—to work for a company like ETC.” 

“When we were on our tour, we walked down a hallway that showed the history of ETC and all the different lights they have produced, from the oldest to the newest,” said Jacques Blashka ’22. “It was cool to see how the lighting has changed, from big and bulky squares to small cylindrical tubes, and the change from incandescent to LED bulbs.”

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