Ben Sammler

Ben Sammler

Your earliest memory of the Institute?

I joined USITT in 1983 and attended the 1984 Conference in Orlando. The HOT topics at that conference were: Computers and how they could be used in theatre and that technicians did not document their “inventions”. We’ve come a long way in the past thirty-four years.

Short list of Career Highlights:

  • BS 1967, State University of New York at Brockport
  • Technical Director/Lighting Designer, SUNY Brockport 1967-1971
  • MFA 1974, Yale School of Drama, Department of Technical Design and Production
  • Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre:
  • Technical Director 1974-1980 (over 50 productions)
  • Chair, TD&P Department/Production Manager 1980-2013
  • Chair, TD&P Department/Head of Production 2013 to present (over 300 productions)


Short List of your involvement in the Institute:

  • Vice Commissioner, Technical Production Commission, 1987-1988
  • Co-Commissioner, Technical Production Commission, 1989-1991
  • Co-Chair of the biennial National Theatre Technology Exhibit for its first five years, 1987-1995
  • Director-at-Large, United States Institute of Theatre Technology, 1993-1995
  • USITT Panels:
  • United States Institute for Theatre Technology Time Estimating, 1984
  • Production Management; Estimating Time and Money, 1985
  • International Training of Theatre Technicians: Requirements and Competencies, 1985
  • Technical Directors and Technical Directing, 1985
  • Problem Solving: A Round Table Approach, 1986
  • Bringing Order to the Chaos, 2009
  • Structural Design for the Stage; A Discussion, 2015
  • Professional Development 3 Day Workshops: Structural Design for the Stage at USITT National Conferences, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007


A Short List of Memorable USITT Characters who have made a difference:

Every member that authored a book that has contributed to the advancement of the industry. Every member that has participated in writing the standards that have contributed to the advancement of safety in the industry. Every individual and/or company that sponsors a Young Designers and Technicians Award; in particular—Richard K. Heasel, founder of KM Fabrics Inc., Zelma H. Weisfeld, costume designer/historian, and Bernhard R. Works, Professor Emeritus of Design and Production at the University of Illinois – for sponsoring an award and encouraging others to do the same.


List of Publications:


  • Theatre Technology Exhibit Catalogue, USITT, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995
  • Structural Design for the Stage, Focal Press, 1999, Co-authored with Alys Holden
  • Structural Design for the Stage: Second Edition, Focal Press, 2015, Co-authored with Alys Holden, Steven Schmidt, and Bradley Powers
  • Technical Design Solutions for Theatre, Vols: 1 & 2, Focal Press, 2002, Co-editor with Donald Harvey
  • Technical Design Solutions for Theatre, Vol 3, Focal Press, 2013, Co-editor with Donald Harvey


  • Stressed Skin Platform Units, Technical Briefs 1981
  • A Platform System, Technical Briefs 1984
  • Bringing Order to the Chaos—How Can We Encourage More Students to Pursue a Career in Technical Theatre? NETC NEWS, 2006
  • Upside Down in the Underworld—Simple Stage Effects Disorient the Audience in Eurydice, Lighting and Sound America 2007

Anything you would like to add about what the USITT means to you personally?

Attending the annual conference is a great opportunity to meet new colleagues and to stay in touch with colleagues that you would otherwise not see every year.


I welcome students and colleagues to contact me to discuss Career Development, Technical Direction, Production Management, or Teaching.