About the Webinar
Moderated by Ryan Cole, Project Manager, and Patrick Finn, Performing Arts Product Manager
The theatre industry is far more broad than most students realize. In addition to performance there are rewarding careers in education, regional theatre, union work, production shops, touring productions, theatre planning and consulting and permanent equipment and installations. Join our panel of experts for a discussion on what opportunities exist in theatre production and how you can set yourself up for a career in these fields. This class is targeted at high school students and individuals interested in a career in theatre and will be recorded for teachers to integrate into their classroom instruction.
Panelists include: Randy Steffen, Dave Piccola, Ben Neafus, Rachael Claxton and Heather McAvoy
Randy Steffen, Technical Director, Syracuse Stage; Instructor, Theater Design and Technology, Syracuse University
In addition to his role as a part-time instructor, Randy Steffen also serves as the full-time technical director for both the Department of Drama and Syracuse Stage. Randy received his B.A. from the University of Northern Iowa and hold an M.F.A. from Yale University.
Dave Piccola, Director of Venue Installations, Mountain Productions
David Piccola currently serves as the Director of Venue Installations for Mountain Productions. In this role, he works closely with decision-makers from various venues, stadiums, arenas, convention centers and theaters to design and implement customized, permanent solutions, including fall protection systems, arena reduction systems, sub-grids, automated intelligent control systems and virtually everything in between. He is dedicated to improving venue logistics for the organizations he works closely with, while saving their time and budget.
Dave’s passion for the entertainment production industry manifested while he was still in high school, where he spent all of his free time enrolled in shop and art courses and producing for a friend’s band. Continuing to pursue his love of all things mechanical and art-based, Piccola spent the next several years rigging, touring and taking calls through his IATSE local chapter, before rigging and advising the production of Cirque du Soleil based in Las Vegas. He brings with him thirty years of experience in the event production industry.
Ben Neafus, ESFX Technician 2, Sight & Sound Theatres
Benjamin Neafus has an accomplished career in theatre. He has worked in the entertainment business for the past 19 years. He has toured on multiple Broadway national tours such as: Les Miserable, Mary Poppins, and South Pacific as an Automation Programmer and Rigger. He has also been a Production Manager over several tours including: Blue Man Group, We Will Rock You, and Elf. He has worked all over the world in different capacities in the entertainment industry such as: Automation Programmer for Wicked in Brazil and South Korea, and Head Carpenter at Los Premios in Mexico. Ben has also worked as an Automation Specialist for PRG. In 2017 Ben decided to take a step off the road. He took a job at Sight and Sound Theatre in Branson Missouri where he is able to dedicate more time to his family. At Sight and Sound Ben gets the best of both worlds, being able to be with his wonderful wife and 2 great kids and work with cutting edge technology in theatrical automation. He is part of a specialized team that is constantly working on new ways to develop new technology and pushing the bounds of current tech.
Rachael Claxton, Charge Scenic Artist, 3dx Scenic
Rachael has worked across the country in theatre, television, and museum fabrication. Some of her favorite projects include time spent with the Cleveland Play House, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Lookingglass Theatre, and Harpo Studios. She is currently the Charge Artist with 3dx Scenic in Cincinnati, Ohio where she works on theme parks, theatre, and live events, and has served on the Board of the Guild of Scenic Artists for the past 2 years.
Heather McAvoyASTC, Principal, Schuler Shook, Inc.
Heather is a recognized leader in theatre planning and consulting, emphasizing collaboration and creativity in her approach to each project. She is a pragmatic and detail-oriented planner and designer with an extensive background in lighting design for live performance. She joined Schuler Shook in 2016, after thirty years as a theatre planner, principal and director for another firm, with involvement in over 250 theatre planning projects.
She brings to each project a fundamental knowledge of the process of live performance, with extensive experience not only in lighting design, but in stage and production management and technical direction. As a community volunteer, she is dedicated to promoting the value of theatrical production as an essential part of a quality education for the youth who are the future of our industry.
Ryan Cole, Project Manager, Wenger Corporation
Ryan joined Wenger | JR Clancy as a Project Management Intern in 2015 for his last year of graduate school before becoming a full-time Project Manager upon graduation in May 2016. In this role, he collaborates with teams of engineers, general contractors, architects, theatre consultants, and end users on projects both domestically and internationally. Prior to coming to Wenger | JR Clancy, Ryan worked as a Technical Director for the Contemporary American Theatre Festival and a Scenic Carpentry Intern for CENTERSTAGE Theatre. He holds a BFA in Theatre Arts: Design & Production from East Carolina University and a MFA in Technical Production from Florida State University.
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