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From Camp to Real Life – CD News 2020

By #15877 Brendan Loughman


rom time to time, Camp provides an introduction to some activity or experience that becomes a camper’s passion and perhaps even their vocation. In this edition, we read about #19178 Sam “Turtle” McKeown, and his Camp experience in Witherbee Hall that led to his amazing professional career in the live music industry.

What is your current job title/profession?

Currently, I work as a Lighting System Technician for Clearwing Productions, Milwaukee. I take the ideas of lighting designers and bring them to reality, designing the power and data distribution systems to make it all happen. For the better part of the last four years, I’ve been working with the band Bon Iver.

How did Camp help guide you onto your current job path?

Starting my Plebe year at Dudley I participated in the Stage Tech/Crew Arts Majors. I realized this was something I loved and wanted to find a way to make it into a career. Eventually, as part of leadership and staff, I was fortunate enough to lead this Arts major within Witherbee and pass on some of my enthusiasm and knowledge of what I now get to call my job.

Who were some of the Camp people that helped you along the way to get you ready for the profession you’re in today?

Too many people to name. From the beginning, I worked very closely with #19521 Wendy Higgins, #15385 Pete Maiurano and the legend, #14866 James Mayo III. Eventually, they all became my coworkers in Witherbee and we were able to create some pretty magical things, not forgetting, in a summer camp theater! People like #18079 Diana George, #15093 C. Ryan Joyce, #11264 Mark “Davo the Nacho Man” Davenport, and of course the directing duo of #15877 Brendan “Lefty” Loughman and #17098 Carl Jackson (whoop whoop!!) were people that trusted me to put together a lighting or scenic design, in the matter of one short week, to help them build some incredible shows within Witherbee Hall. The best part is that I am still in touch with all these incredible people; the real Dudley magic.

CD News: What was your favorite show to work on in Witherbee? Why?

I have worked on some incredible and insanely whacky shows in Wee’Bee. It was hard to decide on just one show, so, some of my favorites and most challenging would have to be, of course, the spectacle that was “Kiss the Sky 2: Cloud Cover” and being able to build some insane set pieces, video content and all the special effects. But, my favorite show would have to be “War, No Peace” by C. Ryan Joyce. This was the first show that truly challenged my thinking in theater and made me see what I wanted to pursue in a career. Between removing windows so soldiers could storm into Witherbee, collecting hundreds of sandbags for scenic walls, and moving upwards of fifty small trees into the theater to transform the inside space into a jungle, I was able to see the magic of theater and backstage production. Now I get to do that every day, in a slightly different way. Without Dudley, I would seriously never have known I could make this into a profession.

Top photo: Sam McKeown on the job – Courtesy of Garritt Jimenez

Featured Photo: Bon Iver – Courtesy of Graham Tolbert

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