Notes from USITT 2016

A month or so ago I attended the annual USITT conference and expo in Salt Lake City. This annual gathering of teachers, students, professionals, and manufacturers is always a great way to catch up with people and the latest trends in practice and products. I have been going to this conference on and off over the past 30 years, and each time I go I am reminded how valuable it is. I also realize how young all the attendees are getting, go figure.

One piece of technological wonder was not part of the expo. A former classmate of mine, Jon Farley, together with some very clever people at Luxium have developed a LED retrofit lamp for the time-tested PAR-38 and PAR 30 lamps used in border lights, and many other fixtures backstage. It is called the ZR30. He had a prototype in his messenger bag, and he proudly showed me how it works. (controlling it from his smartphone!) This is not my old PAR 38 lamp! This small wonder changes color, color temperature and brightness through its built-in DMX interface. It is available in wired and wireless DMX models and is a small but mighty game changer. Go back to your old high school and figure out how many, or few, of these you need to change the clunky border lights into something really useful. Or, consider changing out your backstage work-lights for the version of this lamp that can be blue, white, or red.

It struck me that this kind of ingenuity enables a wide variety of users to benefit from the power savings, color and intensity control that the advent of LED sources has opened up. Who knows where it will lead, but call your old high school and turn them on to the ZR30, or screw them into a clip light and have fun!

Check out this new marvel at

*Photo courtesy of Luxium



Tony Forman is co-founder of Nextstage Design and a planner of and advocate for performance spaces that work for audiences, performers, technicians, and communities.