Northwestern University Granted

Northwestern University’s Department of Theatre has been named the 2004 recipient of the “Martin Intelligent Lighting Technology Grant”. The Grant was presented at a special ceremony at the recent LDI exhibition in Las Vegas.

On hand to accept the award on behalf of the University was Joe Appelt, Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre and Director of the Lighting Design Program. Joe was accompanied by Peter Anderson, supervisor of the department’s lighting and sound shop, as well as several University alumni.

Claudia Kunin, Interim Managing Director of the University’s Theatre and Interpretation Center, stated, “All of us here at Northwestern are thrilled to have been chosen to receive this prestigious grant. The resources Martin Professional is making available to us will enrich the education of our students both in the classroom and in production. The Martin Intelligent Lighting Technology Grant will directly benefit Northwestern students and significantly enhance the program and curriculum.”


Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern offers a BA or BS degree in Theatre; MFA in Stage Design; MFA in Directing; and an interdisciplinary PHD in Theatre and Drama. They also offer a certificate program in Music Theatre jointly with the Northwestern University School of Music, and a major in Dance through the Department of Theatre’s Dance Program. The Department of Theatre has a long history of academic excellence and creative professionalism having graduated world- renowned leaders in the field as producers, performers, directors, designers and educators.

Student exposure to intelligent lighting

Claudia explains some of the ways that the Martin equipment will benefit the program. “The 350 person undergraduate program at Northwestern emphasizes the virtues of a diverse theater education. Every academic quarter approximately 25 students spend a term working afternoons in the light shop, on crews for mainstage production, and learning the craft and technologies of stage electrics. The addition of intelligent lighting equipment to the shop’s inventory will greatly raise the value of that training. Those students going on to be producers, directors, technicians, technical directors and designers will have an early exposure to the possibilities and virtues of intelligent lighting.

”Because MFA students and qualified undergraduates are the designers for mainstage productions, they will have the opportunity to explore and incorporate this lighting technology through production. Having both static and moving lights will allow the opportunity to learn how to make choices in design for dramatic, musical and dance productions. The flexibility that automation gives allows the designer to test various solutions (color combinations and angles) to a problem (a moment in a play) and allow for greater specificity and adaptation in lighting designs. Using automated fixtures will also force the designers to cue in tracking mode, an essential but under-utilized skill that should be learned.

”Designers in training will learn the language necessary to communicate with a programmer as well as learn how to program moving lights. Both experiences will increase the value of students who choose to assist established lighting designers or start out as a moving light programmer upon graduation. In addition, training in the maintenance of these fixtures will give them an additional valuable and marketable experience.”

Lee Keenan, a third year MFA lighting student, added, “In our training, professors emphasize time and again the need to be responsive to a show’s needs. Intelligent lighting will help us to solve these challenges.”

Yearly Grant

Martin Professional, Inc. CEO Troels Volver presented the Grant to Northwestern. He commented, “We are pleased to continue to offer this Grant whose goal it is to support and educate future lighting professionals in the benefits of intelligent lighting technology. Northwestern is a top-notch university with an impressive theatre department, both in terms of facilities and curriculum. With a demonstrated record of instruction in stage lighting techniques, and after seeing their ideas for utilizing the Grant, we are convinced that Northwestern’s theatre students will be effectively exposed to automated lighting and automated lighting design techniques.”

The Martin Grant is valued at $50,000 and consists of a variety of Martin fixtures and control products. Martin also provides technical training and support for the winning college or university, as well as quarterly seminar’s on emerging technologies and application discussions.

This is the fourth annual Grant award presented by Martin Professional, Inc. – prior year recipients were Carnegie Melon University, UNLV and the University of Connecticut. The Martin Intelligent Lighting Technology Grant is awarded to an accredited college or university in the USA each year. Grant applications are accepted in the second quarter of the year, with the selection of the winning school chosen by the Martin Management Team and Board of Directors in association with the LDI exhibition each year.

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