Meet some of our key folks…
Founder & President / CC’s Original Automation Junkie
Gareth has been in the business of making scenery move for more than 20 years, but theatrical automation hasn’t always been his passion. At age 3, after loving encouragement from his parents to be anything he wanted, he decided he wanted to be a whale. Whales are really neat. By age 5, he had recovered from that obvious disappointment and excitedly asked for a set of “real” tools for Christmas. The heartbreak at receiving plastic “toy” tools served only to inspire. Luckily, Gareth eventually got his hands on real tools, dove into theatre and became hooked on automation.
Years later, Gareth had acquired experience automating scenery using a range of mechanical and electronic techniques (some of which are better left forgotten) for clients from regional theatres to automation giants including Disney and Universal. After working with budgets ranging from dozens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, he was convinced he could create a system of automation components that would reduce the cost and complexity of scenic automation. That conviction inspired Creative Conners, Inc., and it’s been the most fun job yet. Even better than being a whale.
Co-Owner & Vice President / Corporate Treasurer / Wrangler of the little Creative Conners / Depletor of excess funds
Emily earned a degree in Drama from University of Dallas in 1993, followed by seven years sewing in regional theatre costume shops. One of these was the Alley Theatre, where she met Gareth. Eight years after their fateful first date she found herself standing in their kitchen fearlessly proclaiming, “Sure, let’s borrow against the house to finance an automation business.” Some decisions really are that easy.
As co-owner of Creative Conners, Emily spends most of her time managing the little creative Conners, Isabella and Violet, but still finds time to tidy up insurance paperwork, do a little bookkeeping and brainstorm about the next big moves for Creative Conners.
Director of Business Development
Peter comes to Creative Conners after project managing a themed attraction in Macau, many years of selling theatrical supplies, and an assortment of technical positions in theaters in Los Angeles and Chicago (plus a couple of international tours). Peter loves talking with people as they start to incorporate moving scenery into their designs. He swears the game of Monopoly teaches all the lessons anyone may ever need in life – the art of negotiation and making deals that work out for everyone’s benefits.
Director of Technical Services
Mike joins Creative Conners after almost 20 years in the field, and just about 13 years since Beta testing the first Stagehand system and Avista controller at Williamstown Theatre Festival where he was the Technical Director. Since then Mike has lived in NYC and held positions with Showman Fabricators, Daedalus Design and Production, Williamstown (this time as the Production Manager), and most recently as the Production Manager for the Atlantic Theater Company. Mike has installed and programmed Spikemark systems at every opportunity and is looking forward to bringing his experience to the table with CCI. When presented with any free time, Mike enjoys hanging out with his family, biking and baking.
Brian has worked Operations in lighting rental, staging and rigging systems, and trade shows. He spent a couple years in industrial rigging sales, and a couple years in industrial power generation and temperature control. Brian sleeps better when his rental equipment is not at nuclear power plants. Brian enjoys hurtling himself down mountains on a snowboard in the winter. When the slopes are snow-less, he cranks away in his basement workshop fixing & restoring bicycles.
When Steve Hnath was in sixth grade, his grandmother encouraged him try out for the school play, while his mother taught him TIG welding. A habitual multi-tasker, he’s bounced between theatre, academia, and manufacturing ever since. Having started at Creative Conners in 2014 as a lowly intern, he is ecstatic to rejoin the team. Steve is the proud owner of BAs in Mathematics and Theatre from Gettysburg College, an MFA in Theatre from Purdue University, and two adorable cats.
Sylvia comes to Creative Conners with more than 20 years professional experience in the theatrical and event industries. Her most influential family member was probably her grandfather, who helped teach her which end of the hammer was the bonky part when she still needed a step stool to reach the work bench. Now she just needs a step stool for all the important things on the top shelf. (She’s not short, she’s just concentrated for maximum effect.)
After numerous (very) odd jobs, she is happy to be following in the footsteps of various ancestors (women and men alike), building useful machines. While she’s pretty sure Gareth won’t ask her to cover a 17′ tall elephant in jelly beans, or repair an ostritch with a football, or teach third graders why cotton candy is a highly scientific snack, she’s certain her adventure here will be interesting.
Bill joins Creative Conners hot off the press [brake] from Mystic Scenic Studios where he worked for 2 years on their waterjet and press brake machines. Enthusiastic about fabrication, he particularly likes custom jobs with new parts to design, and appreciates professional freedom. Outside of manufacturing, Bill refines his emerging carpentry skills, explores the Ocean State, and recreates Chipotle in his kitchen. Looking ten years down the road, he sees himself either using his fabrication skills to create new products, or possibly programming, but definitely having a dog either way.
Rada makes things work – he’s fast, inventive, and multi-talented. He’s our utility player, we can throw him into fabrication, electronics, repairs, or quality control and know everything will be all right. When he’s not playing with automation he’s flying helicopters or airplanes. On the weekends he is currently earning a helicopter pilot license just for the heck of it.
One of the most talented machinists in New England, Mark’s unmatched precision ensures that every component that goes into our machines is tooled exactly and accurately. Steady hands, sharp eyes, quick wit… that’s Mark.
Director of Special Projects
Long before he was addicted to stage automation Ed began his theatrical career at age 6 as an usher for locally renowned Chelsea Players Theatre. Going through school Ed thought he would pursue one of two nearly identical career paths: military service or rock & roll. After working on a farm, as part of the Army National Guard, and in a machine shop he got a BFA in design and technical theater and an MFA in Technical Direction. He has worked as the Technical Director at the Performance Network Theater as well as a freelance arena rigger. He now splits his time between Creative Conners and the University of Connecticut where he is the Executive Technical Director and runs the Technical Direction MFA program. At Creative Conners his expertise in engineering and fabrication helps create new automation products and custom projects.