Its members create spectacles for a living, so it was fitting that a surprise spectacle kicked off the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology's 2011 national conference Thursday at the Charlotte Convention Center.
The local Arts & Science Council sprang four singers from Opera Carolina on the unsuspecting crowd waiting to enter the expo floor. It was part of a series of "random acts of culture" that began last August, funded by a $30,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
About 4,000 theater arts workers - lighting designers, sound designers, scene designers, costume designers and more - are expected to attend the 51st annual conference through Saturday. This is the USITT's first time in Charlotte.
Exhibits feature demonstrations and product displays by a wide variety of companies - from rigging companies that develop systems that make performers appear to soar above stages, to special effects manufacturers that create monster masks.
Said David Will, a Penn State University administrator who is vice president of conferences for the USITT: "What we learn here we can take back to our workplaces in order to improve the quality of the productions that are produced in all of our theaters."