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Sam Michael '05: From Ambrose to Winona

October 2010

Sam Michael '05 uses the education he gained at Ambrose in his everyday life as he works in the real world of theatre.  After graduating from St. Ambrose, Michael continued his education at Yale to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in Technical Direction and Production in 2009. Since June of 2009, Michael has been the Project Manager for Thern Stage Equipment in Winona, Minn.

The company manufactures things like motors and chain lifts in order to aid the rigging process, usually for industries. Michael is in charge of developing a new line of special rigging equipment for the theatre. The goal of Thern Stage Equipment is to develop new equipment to make the rigging process easier. Rigging in the theatre involves the setting-up of a "fly system," which is used for hanging scenery that drops in during a production, as well as the batons used for the stage lights.

The best part of his job is "the problem-solving aspect," said Michael. "It's exciting to find innovative solutions."  The manufacturing company is consistently busy with projects. "We're usually working on 20 to 40 projects at a time," said Michael. One of these projects was the rigging design of the New Year's Eve Ball that famously drops each year.

Michael says his SAU education offered him "priceless information" that was invaluable as he put those practices he learned at Ambrose to use outside the University setting. "The most valuable part was the production aspect of it all," said Michael. Working hands-on in the department prepared him for his career today.

While the information learned in the classroom was of great import to him as well, Michael learned the most during the large amount of time spent working on actual productions. "Being given free reign to go as far as we wanted really stuck with me," Michael stated. Kris Eitrheim speaks highly of Michael from his experience at SAU. "Sam came to SAU with skills that helped us out," said Eitrheim, "I knew he'd be doing big things."

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