The university announced that it will be hosting The Entertainment Technology Conference presented by Cirque du Soleil during the 2016 fall break.
Cirque du Soleil is a Canadian entertainment company based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The company, whose name translates from French to “circus of the sun,” is the largest theatrical producer in the world.
Capital theater professor, Jeffrey Gress, played an integral part in bringing the conference to campus. Gress is chairman of the non-profit board for the Ohio Valley section of The United States Institute of Theater Technology (USITT), which will be sponsoring the conference.
“I was contacted via email by the senior vice president for Cirque de Soleil,” Gress said. “He wanted to bring Cirque back to Columbus to host the conference, so I recommended that it be brought here to Capital.”
The conference is believed to bring in about 500 people from around the region in addition to Capital students and faculty. Outside visitors will be charged for admission, while Capital students and faculty will be granted free admission.
The classroom and interactive sessions will focus on aspects of entertainment technology, such as laser usage, engineering projects, stage lighting, rigging, and costume designs.
Employees and experts from Cirque du Soleil will be conducting the classroom and interactive sessions and will provide the technology and gear necessary for the sessions.
“The conference will [not only serve] the students but as a recruitment and brand-building opportunity for Cirque du Soleil,” Gress said. “They want to bring in students who can be taught and trained.”
The conference will be the fourth that Cirque de Soleil has presented, the last one being at Purdue University.
Columbus provides a great location geographically, as there are a number of additional cities within driving distance.
The next step is the finalization of the specific sessions that will be provided. Gress hopes to have about 50 classroom session opportunities available.
“It’s a great way to introduce students to a bigger path, as we often talk to students about the transition from college to work,” Gress said. “But for entertainment technology, this shows students that you can go as far as you want.”
Cirque du Soleil is famous for its travelling tent show, which last performed in Columbus in 2010. The company also has seven permanent shows in Las Vegas casinos and one each in Orlando at Disney World, New York City, and Riviera Maya.
USITT is an organization that expands the skills and knowledge for those involved in technology, production, and
design for the entertainment and performing arts industries.
The Ohio Valley section does programming to bring exhibitions and conferences to Ohio and all its bordering states.
Every year, Cirque du Soleil hosts a fall conference that includes classroom and interactive sessions about entertainment technology.
Gress is excited for the learning opportunity this conference will provide for the students.
“Cirque is the first phenomenon in the world where entertainment people are the driving force of innovation and technology,” Gress said.