Comprehensive theatre major Emma Blissitt has been accepted into Electronic Theatre Control’s (ETC) 2020 Fred Foster Student Mentorship Program, a highly-regarded program that pairs entertainment industry lighting professionals with students across the country. Since 1999, ETC has provided dozens of mentees with connections and experiences to last a lifetime.
Normally, mentees are sent to the Live Design International (LDI) conference in Las Vegas. This year, they attended virtual seminars spanning different disciplines of lighting design, such as TV and film, music festivals, musical theatre, and more. These seminars are hosted by the best of the best of the lighting industry, and mentees can pick two of them to be assigned as their mentors, usually depending on their interest area.
“Erin Hisey, our lighting design faculty, had shared with me the application,” Blissitt says. “There’s about 100-150 people who applied to the program, and I made the top twelve who were picked.” Other mentees include Lighting Design MFA candidates, those with Superbowl Halftime show lighting credits, and a finalist for Disney Imagineering Imaginations Student Design Competition, amongst others.
Blissett says that UW-Eau Claire’s theatre faculty have pushed her to assume responsibility for her career. “The skill level and the networking that they have and that they’ve built up through their own careers and as educators really work with the students really well, but it is up to you to take charge and reach out to them, which has prepared me for this mentorship because I am in control of my relationship that I build with my mentors,” she says. “Once they set us up with the mentors, it is on you to do whatever you wish with them - if you need resume help, drafting help, whatever. Any questions you have about the industry, how they started, where I should go next, other opportunities, stuff like that they’ll help you with, which is basically what the faculty here do, but now it gets lighting-specific.”
Working as the Schofield Crew Chief for Event Production Crew (EPC) on campus, as well as being able to design for shows like Cabaret and James and the Giant Peach, helped to prepare Blissitt for the program. “I learned most of what I did through EPC and going to Williamstown [Theatre Festival] as my internship. The theatre program led me to the path of how to get to these places and helped me build myself up to be able to make those connections and reach out.”
The Fred Foster mentorship program is just the latest on Blissitt’s resume, following experiences as an electrician for the theatre program, an electrics intern and a staff electrician at the highly regarded Williamstown Theatre Festival, and various positions in UWEC productions such as master electrician, assistant technical director, and master carpenter. Post-graduation, she hopes to be a lighting design and technology professional. It’s safe to say this is only the beginning for Blissitt.