In the months following her graduation from Russell Sage College, Sam Tirrell (RSC ’17) will stage-manage for Backbeard, a musical written by Sage professors Michael Musial and Matt McElligott, at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Then, Sam will begin working toward her Master of Fine Arts in Stage Management at the Yale School of Drama.

Sam Tirrell

Of the M.F.A., Sam says, “It is my dream program. I know that I am going to be challenged in ways that I’ve never been challenged before. I am elated that I get to study at the Yale School of Drama and be part of their artistic community, especially at a time when the world needs both the solace and confrontation of important theatrical art as a method of dealing with the global political climate.”

After completing the program, Sam hopes to work professionally as a stage manager, and, ultimately, end up in academia. “Education and mentorship are critical parts of my life. I want to educate and instill drive, passion, and enduring discipline in future theatre artists, just as my mentors and professors have done for me at Sage.”

Sam continues, “Heather Hamelin, the Education Coordinator at the Theatre Institute at Sage, is a professional stage manager. She has been my mentor and an important part of my life since I met her my first year. I learned the nuances of my discipline with her guidance and instruction, and she has prepared me to be the best stage manager I can be.”

“I am lucky to have met people at Sage who encouraged me to remain curious and never complacent. Heather Hamelin, along with Michael Musial and Lynne Roblin, wrote my letters of recommendation for Yale and have each played a role in shaping me as a student, artist, and human being. Above all else, I value their constant guidance and encouragement as I’ve attempted to navigate the upcoming journey.”

While her passion for stage management is clear, Sam has benefited from the opportunity to double major. “English complemented my Theatre major really well. We are part of such a unique community, and I am grateful for the safety and comfort I felt at Sage to explore what I love. It was an important time of discovery for me.”

So, how did a Sage education get her here? “First and foremost, stage managers are communicators. The ability to communicate clearly and concisely is critical, and I know that this is a skill I developed at Sage. I also spent a lot of time talking about my discipline with faculty. Arts programs foster passion this way, and I owe a lot to TIS for cultivating my interest and ability.”

Come August, Sam will join the ranks of Sage alumni who are employed or continuing their education just months after graduation. In fact, Sam is not the first to continue her education at Yale. Elivia Bovenzi (RSC ’09) received her M.F.A. in Costume Design from the Yale School of Drama in 2014. “Once I decided I was going to apply, I met with Elivia in the city to chat about her experience. I am excited to share my journey at Yale with her over the next three years.”