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The History of the Northern Boundary Section

Update June 2019

Conversations began regarding the idea of forming a section in 1979.  As Ed Krehl (the Hammer in 1983) recalled: 

It was back in 1979 that Dick Durst, Tom Bliese, Patricia Dennis, Fred Lange, Susan Smith and I sat up in Dick's office and started talking in earnest about forming this organization.  At that time Dick was the leader in the truest sense of the word.  He was a diligent worker in getting our charter and spurring on the enthusiasm. We had no money, and not much time, just a strong desire to get off square one.   “From the Hammer”, Ed Krehl, NBS Newsletter, Volume III-2, Summer 1983

The Northern Boundary Section began organizing in Minnesota in 1979 under the leadership of Dick Durst.   An election for officers was held November 6, 1979, with the expectation that the USITT Board of Directors would approve our Section status at the December 8, 1979, meeting in Kansas City (which it did).  The Section received its Charter from USITT on November 7, 1979 – so we actually had the Charter before the BOD approved the Section status!  During a Section Executive Board meeting it was unanimously approved to include North and South Dakota in our Section and to name it the Northern Boundary Section (verified in a letter of inquiry from Susan Lassman Smith, Secretary of the Section, to Herb Greggs, Administrative Secretary USITT, dated January 4, 1980). 


The first Executive Committee meeting of the newly formed Minnesota Region was held December 15, 1979, at UMD.   Officers present:  Dick Durst (Chair), Tom Bliese (Senior Vice-Chair), Ed Krehl (Vice-Chairman), Susan Lassman Smith (Secretary), and Fred Lange (Treasurer).  At that meeting it unanimously approved to include North and South Dakota in the region, and to change the name to Northern Boundary Section. 


The first annual business meeting was held during the ACTF January 24, 1980, at St. Catherine’s in St. Paul, MN.  The first conference we attended as a Section was in 1980 in Kansas City.  In 1981 USITT approved our request to add Iowa as part of the Section.


Officers (boldface indicates founding officers):


Chair: Dick Durst (1979-1982), Ed Krehl (1982-86), Lance Brockman (1986-92), Steve Griffith (1992-1995), Mary Beth Gagner (1995-95), Treva Reimer (1995-2003), Rooth Varland (2003-11), Todd Reemtsma (2011-2016), Corey Shelsta (2016--) 


Senior Vice-Chair: Tom Bliese (1979-84), Lance Brockman (1984-86), Steve Griffith (1986-92), Peg Murphy (1992-95), Treva Reimer (1995-95), Jim Casey (1995-98), Greg Gillette (1998-01),  Jim Trenberth (1999-03), Kathy Stewart (2003-07), Tracey Lyons (2007-08), Jascenna Haislet (2008-11), MaryBeth Gagner (2011-13), Peter Lerohl (2013-19), MaryBeth Gagner (2019---)


Junior Vice-Chair: Ed Krehl (1979-82), Fred Lange (1982-86), Pat Dennis (1986-95), Brian Bjorklund (1995----)


Newsletter Editors: Lee Adey (1980-82), Steve Griffith (1982-86), Brian Bjorklund (1986---)


Secretary: Susan Lassman Smith (1979-1982), Jean Montgomery (1982-92, pro tem 2001-03), Bill Wallace (1992-2001), Esther Iverson (2003-06), Peter Lerohl (2007-11), Ricky Greenwell (2011-16), Tiffany Fier (2016---)


Treasurer: Fred Lange (1979-1982), Tim Kudalis (1982-86), John Justad (1986-88), Jean Montgomery (1988-2020), Rick Greenwell (2020--)



                                    Kelly Allison (1995-98) 

                                    Tom Bliese (1984-88) 

                                    Scott Boyle (2019---)

                                    Dave Borron  (2001-03)

                                    Lance Brockman (1982-86)

                                    Tim Case (1992-98)

                                    Ben Cox (2007-08)

                                    John Dalziel (2005-06)

                                    Adrian Durlester  (1995-98)

                                    Tiffany Fier (2013-16)

                                    Vance Gerchak (1988-95) 

                                    Matthew Gilbertson (2016---)

                                    Greg Gillette (1999-03) 

                                    Ben Golden (2019---)

                                    Lucas Granholm (2019---)

                                    Rickey Greenwell (2008-10) 

                                    David Griffith (2004-06)

                                    Mark Harvey (2006-14)

                                    Brent “Mickey” Henry (2011-12)

                                    Larry Hill (1982-8x)

                                    Todd Johnson (2003-06) 

                                    Dan Keyser (2003-06)

                                    Tim Kudalis (1981-82)

                                    Kim LaFontaine  (1992-97) 

                                    Lisa Lanz (2016-2018)

                                    Tracey Lyons (2007-07)

                                    Kit Mayer (2011-14)

                                    Peg Murphy (1988-92)

                                    Mark Parrott (2012--14)

                                    Linda Pisano (2001-03)

                                    Caitlin Quinn (2016---)

                                    Todd Reemtsma  (2009-10)

                                    Paul Sannerud (1992-95)

                                    Peggy Sannerud (2003-2006)

                                    Corey Shelstra (2007-16)

                                    Ron Stoffregren  (2001-03)                                    

                                    Sheila Tabaka (2004-06, 2007-10)

                                    Jeff Taylor (1982-88)

                                    Jim Trenberth (1998-01, 2003-06)

                                    Rooth Varland (2011-14)

                                    Bill Wallace (1988-92) 

                                    Arden Weaver (1992-2003)

                                    Alicia Wold (2013---)


Board Member-at-Large changed to regional representation following the 1988-90 term of office: North, West, South, East, and Metro.  In 2012, the Section approved adding an additional Member- at-Large South position to the Board.


Originally the Section appointed Commissioners to assist with Section workshop programming:

Architecture Commissioner:  Kevin Sullivan (1981-82); Dan Keyser (1988-92); Ed Krehl, Co-Commissioner (1988-92); Kerry Lafferty (1992-95)

Costume Commission:  Pat Dennis (1981-82); Joy Erickson (1988-92); Chris Vesper-Co-Commissioner (1988-92);  Mary Beth Gagner (1992-95), Kathleen Gossman (1995-2006)

Scene Design/TD Commission:  Dennis Chandler (1981); Don Larew (1988-92); Paul Sannerud, Co-Commissioner (1988-92); Dan Keyser (1992-95)

Lighting & Sound Commission: Brian Bjorklund  (1982-88 ), Dick Borgen (1982-88 ). Dave Johnson (1988-95), Dennis Chandler, Co-Commissioner (1988-92); Peggy Sannerud, Co-Commissioner (1992-95); Jim Trenberth (1995-01), Randy Susevich (1999-2006)

Sound Design & Tech Production: Martin Gwinup (1996-2006)

Publications/Newsletter:  Lee Adey (1981-82); Steve Griffith (1982-88), Brian Bjorklund (1988-95).  Responsibility went under Junior Vice-Chair in 1995.

Membership Committee Chair:  Dick Durst (1982-xx)

​Education Committee Chair:  Amy Rohrberg (1998-2006)

​Int’l Liaison Committee Chair:  Dan Keyser (1996-2006)

​Student Liaison Committee Chair:  Rachel Mero (2003-2006)

The Lighting and Sound Commission split in 1995; Education began in 1995; Int’l Liaison began in 1995; Student Liaison began in 1995.  

The Section combined with the ACTF-Region V North in January 1982 to form the first Annual Festivention.  Over the 27 years the Section has existed we have generally held at least two workshops a year – one in fall and one in January/February.  The latter were often held in conjunction with the ACTF.  Information on Section Workshops – now called Section Conferences -- may be found at another location on this website (under Section Conference History).

​The 1987 USITT Conference in Minneapolis was a defining moment for this section.  We gathered as a group, put on a conference that is still remembered to this day by many USITT members, and retained extremely strong section ties to this day among our members following the conference.  Many members of the section moved into positions with the national organization as a result of the work accomplished on the ’87 conference.   By 2003 when the USITT Annual Conference and Stage Expo returned to the Twin Cites, the process of doing a national conference had changed quite a bit.  No longer was the Section in charge – all program planning, and operations were now housed out of the National Office and a national Conference Committee.  Two members of the Section played key roles in the liaison between the Conference Committee, the Office, and local arrangements: Sherry Wagner (Publicity Regional Contact) and Kathy Stewart (Program Regional Contact).

In March of 1993 we ended our 10-year formal Section association with ACTF when Region V North and South merged into one humongous area that also included Colorado.  We voted to stay closer to home and concentrate programming within our own boundaries.  Sioux Falls in 1992 and Minneapolis in 1993 marked our last Festiventions.  HOA continues the tradition when the ACTF location is within its reach.


The Section has continuously published a Newsletter four times a year since 1981.  Originally entitled Des/Tech News,it was changed in December of 2001 to Northern Boundary News.  In 2009, it went electronic only, thereby allowing section resources to provide additional support for student scholarships sponsored by the Section to the national conference and the Prague Quadrennial.


We created our website in the summer of 1997, thanks to Cat Nelson.  The first major renovation came in the summer of 2002 when itchanged from its then predominantly pink scheme to its current maroon and cream colors.  A few things were changed; the emphasis was changed from a dynamic site to a more static site, with pages of information that didn't need lots of attention.  The first membership application printed from the website was received in September of 2002.  The management of the website has now passed from being under Cat’s website to being under the National website and the job of webmeister passed to Corey Shelsta.  As of 2017 the new NBS webmaster is Todd Edwards.


The NBS Section has a long history of generous support from our membership and corporate sponsors in the form of scholarships to assist member students in attending the USITT Annual Conference & Stage Expo.  We began this initiative in 1999 when we provided the registration fee for three students to attend the Toronto Conference.  The amount of support continued to rise as did the number of scholarships provided. In 2003 SECOA began supporting two $500 scholarships which continues through this day.  And in 2004, Stage Technology, Inc. began a similar scholarship to honor John Mullen, one of their founders.  This scholarship now receives support from NORCOSTCO and is known as the NORCOSTCO-John Mullen Scholarship.  In 2007, for the first time, the Section and its members supported a student traveling to PQ.  All we ask in return is that students take full advantage of the conference and report their adventures in the section Newsletter the following year.  As of 2013, the Section supports six $500 scholarships (3 corporate, 3 section members) to attend the annual USITT conference. One of the Section scholarships is known as the “Doughnut Scholarship” – rather than spending our money on coffee/doughnuts at the annual conference meeting, we decided to put it to better use! And in 2015 the Section designated one of the conference scholarships as an Emerging Professional Grant to support people beginning their theatre careers.  Thanks to the generosity of our members and corporate sponsors, we continue providing  scholarships to the annual conference and PQ to this day.

Click on the PDF below to see our Workshop/Conference History Chart. 

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