Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
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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
“I lived on the north fork of Long Island, and I was the only bassoon player on the north fork. The only one,” Sean says. So when it came time to choose a major at Ithaca College, Sean wasn’t worried about taking a different approach from some of his peers.
Many students go to college and make a decision: to focus on one field of study, learn about a specific area, and pick up related courses along the way. But some students, like Sean, have more varied interests. The young bassoonist had discovered a passion for science in high school and wanted to include both music and physics in his educational journey. At Ithaca College, an emphasis on cross-disciplinary learning made it easy for Sean to combine these very different fields and discover a career that draws from each.
“Acoustical engineering really brings them together. Musicians play in spaces all the time, and some are good spaces and some are just bad spaces,” says Sean. “As a performer I know that a good space involves good reverberation times. You will get liveness in the hall, your sound will be carried, but you don’t want it to be too live. If everything’s reflecting too well in the hall, you can get echoes, and it can make everything kind of muddy.”
Working with Luke Keller, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Alex Perialas, associate professor from the School of Music, Sean is doing an acoustical analysis of IC’s Ford Hall auditorium. The analysis will help determine what acoustical improvements will be made during upcoming renovations. “We’re looking at frequency response and reverberation times in Ford Hall to get a quantitative measurement of why we think the renovation has helped.”
Sean also landed a summer internship with SoundSense, an architectural acoustics firm on Long Island, where he worked alongside engineers to develop his skills. The internship helped Sean realize that his decision to combine music and physics was the right path for him. “Talking to the CEO about everything I would be doing caused me to realize that I’ve never been as excited. That’s really what I want to do. That’s my passion.”
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