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Shane Rowse '88

American Heartland Theatre


Employer: American Heartland Theatre

Job Title: Resident Lighting Designer/Technical Director

Can describe your current position and how/if it relates to your theater education?

I am resident light designer/tech director at a 436 seat for-profit Equity theatre that does comedies, musicals, and light dramas. My degree was a BA with an emphasis on Theatrical Tech, so a straight line connects my theatre education and my career.

What advice do you have for current theater students?

1) Do summer stock.

2) Don’t be just one thing; be versatile. It’s great, and necessary, to specialize, but become competent at the things that touch on your specialty. If your specialty is lighting, learn enough about being a stage carpenter, flyman, stage manager, sound operator etc… that you can make yourself useful in those areas too. When it turns out that in the place where you land, your ideal job is already taken, you’ll still be able to work; also, knowing what’s involved in your collaborators jobs will make you a better coworker.

3) Never get it into your head that something is beneath you; be willing to take tickets, tend bar and clean toilets. This is called “job security”.

4) Never stop learning; never treat a simple show as a “throw-away”; give even the most seemingly shallow assignment your full attention – your audience may not be conscious of the depth you add to it but they’ll sense that it has value.

5) When your director gives you a note, even if you disagree, say “Thank you”, and take the note.

6) Have an art form that’s just yours, where you work alone and don’t ever have to compromise with collaborators, so that when you come to the theatre and your director tells you to let go of some creative idea you’re really in love with you can do it without being angry.

7) If you don’t know, ask; if you do know, teach.