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
In high school, I considered myself a pretty good student. Most of my friends took the same classes I did and knew they wanted to be biomedical engineers, environmental scientists, or doctors someday. I was confident in my abilities and had plenty of ideas about my interests, but I wasn’t prepared at 18 to make what I thought was a huge choice. When I was looking for colleges, I wanted a school that acknowledged that it takes time and experience to make that decision. Ithaca College’s Exploratory Program offered me just that.
The Exploratory Program provided me with so many resources. I took a course specifically designed to help college students discover their passions. My faculty advisor, Elizabeth Bleicher, asked me focused questions to reveal potential majors that might suit both my personality and abilities.
In high school I enjoyed physics, and I knew coming in that I wanted to take a college-level course on the subject. Professor Bleicher referred me to Professor Michael “Bodhi” Rogers. His passion is infectious. After completing the introductory class, I realized that I loved physics. I like the logic involved in it. It’s not about memorization—it’s about problem-solving in real life. That intellectual challenge is exactly what I was looking for in my college experience.
The enthusiasm of the people in the physics department also really impressed me. They’re totally dedicated to using a teaching style based on the most current research about how students best learn. I had a class in the performance-based physics classroom—a collaborative learning environment where the professor is in the center with projectors all around, and students are seated in groups so that they can discuss questions before answering. It was one of the most powerful educational experiences I have ever had.
By talking to my faculty advisor and professors, I learned what I can do with a physics major. I can be anything from an engineer to a lawyer or teacher. Educators in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) are in demand, and teaching is something I’m definitely interested in. Physics majors score well on law school entrance tests, and I accepted a summer internship working in the legal department of a technologies corporation. The idea that I could major in a subject that was really important, had a great job outlook, and would still let me do a variety of different things down the road really appealed to me.
I also visited Career Services as part of my exploration, and they helped me discover ways my preferences could be matched with potential careers. That led me to realize that I could actually pursue multiple interests. Now, not only am I a physics major, but I am also a business administration minor.
The Exploratory Program was the reason I came to Ithaca College. Though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I didn’t like calling myself “undecided” because I had decided that I wasn’t ready to choose a major yet. I wanted time to explore; I wanted guidance along the way—and that’s exactly what Ithaca gave me.
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