Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
School of Humanities and Sciences | Theatrical Production Arts
“I was 10 when I saw the stage production of The Lion King, and I knew right then I wanted to make theatre my career,” said Max Doolittle ’11. “The trouble was, I suffered from stage fright, and that led me to work backstage.”
Max started painting scenery before discovering his calling was lighting and design.
“In high school, I was looking for a college program that would teach me how to create moving theatre in the real world,” Max said. “I picked IC because lots of people told me that if I was thinking about theatre design, I needed to consider Ithaca College.”
By the time Max graduated with a B.F.A. in theatre production arts, the “real world” that he had been aiming for turned out to be the place where he’d studied for four years.
In addition to Max’s experience as lighting designer for two Ithaca College Theatre productions, his undergraduate resume included more than a dozen gigs with central New York theatre companies as well as assignments as associate or assistant lighting designer at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Adirondack Theatre Festival, and Minnesota Opera.
“The spring of my senior year, another student and I collaborated with faculty mentor Steve TenEyck in producing Salome with the Minnesota Opera,” Max said. “We created the scenery and worked with Steve to figure out the lighting for each scene. It was a large-scale opera with world-class singers and musicians. I was amazed to see how the real world operates and also to have that strong credit on my resume.”
Max spent the summer after graduation working on regional shows and is now in demand for various theatre projects in NYC at Access Theatre, Ars Nova Theatre, Soho Rep Theatre, and The Juilliard School, among others.
“I could talk forever about model constructing, computer drafting, and all the practical skills the IC theatre faculty taught me,” Max said. “But beyond that, there’s an indescribable something. I’m going to call it professionalism. At IC, they run things exactly the way a regional theatre would, from the proper way to communicate with directors to how to come up with design ideas. The skills I learned at IC are the same ones I’m using now in my career.”
>> More on this story: Department of Theatre Arts
Five months after graduating from Ithaca, Tom Healy was working with the search and rescue team in California’s Yosemite National Park when he got a call that a woman had fallen and fractured her leg on Half Dome, one of Yosemite’s iconic peaks.
When Tom and his team partner reached the woman, they knew it wouldn’t be an ordinary rescue. “She needed to be medevaced off the top,” he recalls. “And a storm was coming in, and we were in a very bad place.”
An avid hiker and rock climber, Tom chose Ithaca because it offered a major—outdoor adventure leadership—that could prepare him for situations like this, blending theory with wilderness immersion so that he could put classroom learning into practice.
“You learn that the consequences of your decisions are very important,” he says. “It definitely gives you more tools in your bag for life.”
The storm hit so close that Tom’s partner felt electric shocks through the metal frame of his backpack, and another hiker’s hair stood on end. “What I learned in my classes at Ithaca is to remain calm,” Tom says. “You have to have the coolest head in the group.”
As the weather grew increasingly violent, Tom helped the woman safely aboard the rescue helicopter and then led the other hikers to safety as lightning struck around them. “If we hadn’t gone up there and gotten her off the mountain,” he says, “she definitely would have died.”
Tom got a letter from the National Park Service commending him on his bravery and a heartfelt thank-you from the woman whose life he saved. “The letter of thanks I received from the injured hiker was worth all the effort,” he says.
Now Tom is studying in an advanced paramedics program so that he can return to Yosemite as a full-time employee. “Ithaca College made me ready to adapt to any situation.”
>> More on this story: "Alum's Bravery Earns Notice" - Fuse
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