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Keynote Speakers Announced!

Our Saturday and Sunday speakers are announced! Select Program, then Keynote Speakers, on the menu bar."

Book hotel room by September 22nd!

Our block of rooms is only held until September 22nd. To guarantee our special rate, book now, while they last. Select Lodging & Dining on the menu bar."

Tech Day Announced!

This exciting day will help pump up your creativity for imagining scenery for every space and budget! For more information, click the link under "Program."

2016 Conference

Our 71st year!

Registration is open! Make hotel reservations now!

Tech Day

This year, there is a 3-day conference option, which includes a Tech Day, entitled Making Magic. Led by by John Burton and Robert Fowler, this day is will pump up your creativity in creating scenic magic!



Establishing a Student Design Program
Morning:  Robert Fowler

This workshop will help you start or enlarge a student design program.  Student designs that are actually realized in school productions address higher thinking skills, promote ensemble amongst production staff, and provide students with portfolio material of actualized productions.  Practical tips for setting up curricular and extra-curricular programs will be addressed.


Bob Fowler earned his Masters in Design and Technical Theater at the University of Missouri, taught high school theatre 29 years in the St. Louis area, and was the MO Thespian Theatre Educator of the Year in 2001.  After retiring from teaching, he worked steadily as a professional director, set and lighting designer, and technician, including 2 years as master carpenter for the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis.  He is the co-developer of the DVD/CD-ROM series “Practical Technical Theater”, and has done well over 200 workshops and in-services.   Bob and his wife Marti received the 2008 EdTA Standing Ovation Award, FATE and AZ Thespians Advocacy Awards, and were the first inductees into the MO Thespian Hall of Fame in 2010.

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Don’t Scale Down Your Vision!
Prop & Set Spectacle on a Dime and in a Dungeon
#cafetorium #churchbasement #johnburtoneffect

Afternoon:  John Burton

This hands-on workshop explores tips and tricks to staging your play in educational spaces, on educational budgets. No grid? No wings? No curtain? No problem. John Burton has spent the past 17 years crafting dynamic scenic and storytelling elements that are manageable for teachers to make and students to use.  From casters to clothing racks, fun foam to foam core, adhesives to airline cable, you’ll learn about simple materials and methods that yield complex results. Don’t let limitations of budget, space or technical experience put a limit on your vision or creativity.

John Burton is a visual artist and theatre designer, specializing in creating spectacles …on a dime…in unusual spaces…often utilizing combinations of unexpected and repurposed materials.

He likes designing and rigging large theatrical items, such as 6’ tall pop-up books at Walt Disney Concert Hall; 12’ copper tubing alligators for a Cajun restaurant; a 21’ x 18’ peach made of curly wood veneer for James & the Giant Peach; and a 10-foot Waiting for Godot multi-piece tree hung as a mobile.

John also likes sculpting and fabricating small theatrical things, such as ½” hand-cut shadow puppet pieces; wire mobiles made of recycled shirt hangers; and “spirit people,” effigies crafted of found objects and sacred remnants of an actor’s actual wardrobe.

John’s puppet portfolio includes shadow, rod, hand, and Bunraku-style. His shadow design for Tim Robbins’ “Break the Whip” utilized over 12 actor/puppeteers to recount creation mythology from African, Algonquin and English cultures. Also with Mr. Robbins’ company, John designed and fabricated all puppetry for their adaptation of Gullivers’ Travels, as well as a 14-piece, 9’ wide Millennium Falcon puppet for their Shakespeare mash-up of The Tempest: Star Wars Edition.

John built a custom 20,000 peg LiteBrite® podium and backdrop for L.A. Stage Alliance’s Ovation Awards. He recently returned from Texas where he installed life-size marionettes of Don Quixote & Sancho Panza, and then fabricated three 8’-17’ puppets (managing a team of 5 puppeteers) for Sir Richard Thompson’s Cabaret of Souls at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

John built a mini-pneumatic blood rig to create a gory gunshot effect, which led to work for Paul Mitchell, rigging white dresses to “colorize” themselves as his hair models walked the runway. John split mannequins apart, filling them with poetry and literature for a surprising reveal in Ghost Road’s The Bargain and the Butterfly, which was subsequently invited to travel to Poland. When the prop proved too cumbersome for portability, he completely reimagined & fabricated the effect as a mid-air breakaway and hanging sculpture.

In 2014, John built a myriad of furniture pieces from mannequin parts for Boston Court Theatre’s Everything You Touch, which earned him a Drama Critics Circle Award, and went on the Cherry Lane Theatre in NYC.

From his 4000 sq.ft. studio, Pop Goes the Easel, John perpetually turns out scenic, prop, puppet and shadow design. He is Prop Master for Loyola Marymount University, and runs The Studio Lab at Walgrove Elementary, a STEAM-based maker lab where he teaches 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. He is the resident designer for Turning Point School and an associate designer for The Actors’ Gang, Ghost Road Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Rogue Artists Ensemble, Orphean Circus, and Son of Semele Theatre.

He has contributed design work to over 90 shows in Los Angeles over the past 17 years.