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Staff Profile: Ann Sitzman, Theatre

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Prairie Village, Kansas

Have you always been interested in theatre?

I first got into theatre in high school, and after doing the lighting design on my first show, I was hooked.

What made you want to pursue working in theatre? 

Theatre appeals to me for several reasons: seeing a show is an experience that affects the audience on a truly personal level.  Working in theatre also presents unique problems that need to be solved for every show.  The ever-changing nature of theatre and its challenges keep me mentally and physically engaged.   Also, the ephemeral nature of theatre means you are constantly working on something different, so you are always discovering new lives and the worlds of the characters.

Describe your role in the theatre department at KU.

I’m in charge of supervising the areas of Lighting and Audio. I am responsible for the maintenance of current equipment as well as purchasing new equipment when necessary.  I oversee the lighting hangs, focuses and audio production for each production we put on.  I also frequently get to work with student designers and strive to help them realize their designs.  Additionally, I supervise the lighting lab students from Lighting Production class.

What professional experiences and areas of expertise do you bring to the table? 

After completing my MFA at SUNY Purchase just outside of NYC, I began free-lancing as a lighting designer, assistant lighting designer, as well as board programmer and electrician. I worked for Broadway designer Jen Schriever off-Broadway for a production written and directed by Woody Harrelson. After working in NYC for a year and a half, I moved back to Kansas City and continued to assist and design in the KC area, including assisting Kirk Bookman on Fancy Free at the Kansas City Ballet, as well as David Grill’s design of Michael Pink’s Dracula. While I free-lanced in KC, I also worked at Harvest Production and designed multiple galas and events in the metro area, including the Plaza Lighting Ceremony in 2014.

In the summer of 2015, I was designing lights for Theatre in the Park’s productions of The Wiz, Secret Garden, and West Side Story when I received an email from a former mentor listing the opening of my current position at KU Theatre. After working for a few years in the professional world, I realized I wanted to share my love of lighting design. The Theatre department at KU has become a place where I can design while also mentoring student designers and help facilitate their love of lighting.

What has been your proudest moment as a staff member?  

It is difficult to choose just one.  While I am proud of my work I feel a great deal of pride in seeing the students succeed.  Helping students is one of the driving factors in why I love my job.

How would you describe a typical workday? 

I typically start my day in my office catching up on emails, looking at draftings and working on paperwork.  After that I usually have lighting lab students and my employees come in and we work on whatever show is currently being produced.  Also, I usually have a few production meetings sprinkled though the week where the production staff, directors, designers and stage managers meet about the upcoming shows.

What do you hope students take away from an education in theatre? 

I want them to have the confidence and knowledge to find their way in this industry.  Being open to trying new things and realizing that the most important part is that they are fulfilled and happy in their careers and their lives.

If you could give students one piece of advice, what would it be?

It is acceptable to say “no.” This is your life do not let others pressure you to do things that are not right for you or that you do not have time for.  Be kind to yourself.

Describe your favorite KU memory.

I received my BFA in theatre design from KU.  Every year the Theatre Department holds a Stage Banquet, my senior year being at that Banquet with my friends and our theatre family is a wonderful memory I will never forget.

What was the greatest experience in the theatre you’ve ever had? 

Most theatre people have a show that stands out, for me, my last show in grad school holds a special place in my heart.  It was a modern adaptation of Trojan Women and every aspect of it came together to create a truly beautiful show. 

Where would you go if you could travel anywhere in the world? 

One day I hope to tour many of the major European cites exploring their theatre scenes and all of the art museums.