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Michael McNamara Biography

For eight years, Michael was Resident Assistant Lighting Designer with the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC where he worked on more than fifty productions with design teams from around the world. In recent years, he has served as Associate Lighting Designer at the Canadian Opera Company, the New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, the San Diego Opera and the Dallas Opera. He has also been an Assistant Designer at the Seattle, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Portland Opera companies and at the Royal Opera in London.


Michael has designed at numerous Chicago-area theatre companies including First Folio Theatre (where he is an Artistic Associate) and with whom he won the 2012 Joseph Jefferson Award for Lighting Design-Midsize Venue for his design of The Turn of the Screw. Other Chicago theatres include Shattered Globe, Remy Bumppo, Eclipse, Writers’ Theatre, Griffin, Dolphinback, Magellan, and Pegasus Players. Outside of Chicago he has designed at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, the Pacific Conservatory for the Arts and the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis. He has designed and taught as a guest artist at the University of Kentucky, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wheaton College, Huntington University and Marquette University.


Michael is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre at Purdue University and is the co-author of the most popular college textbook on stage lighting, Designing with Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting, along with the original author, J. Michael Gillette. He has also contributed to Mr. Gillette’s other work, Theatrical Design and Production.


Michael received his Master of Fine Arts in Stage Design from Northwestern University and holds a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Arts from Carroll University of Waukesha, WI. Michael is a member of United Scenic Artists Local USA-829, the Illuminating Engineering Society, and is on the Board of Directors for the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.

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