From behind the scenes to graduation stage

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During his time at the University of Arizona, Cole Rowerdink found a passion for working behind the scenes on fine arts productions. He is graduating from the College of Fine Arts this year with a degree in design and technology and an emphasis in stage management. 

While most stage management students complete around eight production assignments before they graduate, Rowerdink has completed over 20 within the School of Theatre, Film & Television. While at UA, Rowerdink has taken on the roles of assistant stage manager, stage manager, production stage manager, technician and wardrobe crew member, just to name a few. 

He has worked as the production assistant for the School of Theatre, Film & Television since last May, which means he has multiple duties including scheduling department-related events and organizing and running season auditions.

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“I also assist the managing director, the production manager and all the faculty and staff,” Rowerdink said. “If they have something they need, I’m usually the one they go to.” 

Jenny Lang, the assistant professor of practice in stage and production management who hired Rowerdink for his current position, describes him as a “go-getter.”

“He goes above and beyond all the time and gives 110 percent to everything that he does,” Lang said. “He has this unique ability to be detail-oriented but at the same time keeps his eye on the bigger picture.” 

Though Rowerdink has mostly worked on theater productions, such as the Arizona Repertory Theatre’s “Born Yesterday,” “Richard III” and “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” he has also tried his hand at film production. Rowerdink was the stage manager for the 2017 and 2018 installations of the “I Dream in Widescreen” annual presentation of short films by senior UA film and television students. He also worked on a handful of short films made by fellow UA undergraduates. 

Rowerdink, who is from California, plans to put his degree to good use back home after graduation.

“I’m moving to L.A., and there are two jobs that I want really badly,” he said. “One is with a publicity agency, and the other is a film production company that was started by Leonardo DiCaprio.” 

Rowerdink said his time at the UA as a student in the School of Theatre, Film & Television and the professors he’s worked with have given him the tools to succeed in life after college. 

“The school has prepared me by challenging me,” Rowerdink said. “They’ve thrown a lot at me, and it’s been good experience.”

Rowerdink said UA theater professors such as Jenny Lang, Hank Stratton and Brent Gibbs have been influential in preparing him for post-graduation life.

“They don’t take any B.S.,” Rowerdink said. “They try to give us the best professional training and will tell you when you’re doing something wrong or what you need to improve on. I feel very prepared to go out into the real world and take on the entertainment industry.” 

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As Rowerdink gets ready to leave UA, he has some advice to give incoming students.

“Enjoy every moment that’s given to you and don’t let stress take over,” Rowerdink said. “This is a learning opportunity, but it is also your time to explore and experience anything and everything that you can.” 


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