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Michael McNamara

Michael McNamara

Associate Professor, Lighting // Theatre // Rueff School

Associate Professor / Theatre / Lighting Design // Rueff School of Design, Art, and Performance

Coordinator of Design and Production // Theatre // Rueff School

Office and Contact

Room: PAO 2183


Phone: (765) 496-2386

Fax: (765) 496-1766


Lighting Design


Michael McNamara is the Faculty Lighting Designer for the Department of Theatre at Purdue. For eight years he 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. More recently 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, 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 his design of The Turn of the Screw. He has designed 18 other productions with First Folio. Other Chicago theatres include Shattered Globe, Remy Bumppo, Eclipse, Writers’ Theatre, Griffin, Dolphinback, Magellan, Pegasus Players, and Theatre at the Center. Outside of Chicago he has designed at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing 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, Beloit College, and Marquette University.

Michael is the co-author of Designing with Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting with J. Michael Gillette. He has also contributed to Mr. Gillette’s other work, Theatrical Design and Production.

Michael received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Stage Design from Northwestern University and holds a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Arts from Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. Michael is a member of United Scenic Artists Local USA-829, the Illuminating Engineering Society, and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology. He is also an officer with the Midwest Regional Section of USITT where he was the 2017 recipient of the Founders’ Award in recognition of his contributions to the organization.