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Alumnus works as theatrical performer rigger, makes people ‘fly’ on stage

Theatre
Theatre

Making people fly on stage takes 100 percent perfection, at least for alumnus Bill Auld.

“It’s extremely stressful to be perfect, but some of us embrace that,” said Auld, a theater graduate of the University. “I like that challenge, I like those standards.”

Auld does performer rigging for theatrical shows and flies people on wires for a living. His talents range from work at a large theater in Haiti to a small community high school. Performer rigging requires mechanical and mathematical engineering while maintaining creativity with the scenery for that specific show.

The backstage technician graduated with a theater degree as an undergraduate in 1994 and also earned the same degree for his Master’s in 2000 after serving time in the Army. As an undergraduate, he was heavily involved with the theater department and said the program strived for open casting.

“That program put me in the right mindset to step into the real world,” Auld said. “It’s a really good wake up call for you. Either I needed to be better or I needed to be realistic about my career choices. I did a little bit of both.”

During his time as a student, he took a few classes with Brad Clark, a professor in the Department of Theatre and Film. Clark said Auld always worked hard on class projects and was creative.

“He always thought outside the box,” Clark said. “He would really dive into the assignment and find a different solution with it. That was Bill. The fact that he now makes a living flying people through the air doesn’t surprise me.”

Auld’s job requires frequent long-distant traveling, even to different countries. Auld said although it’s time away from his wife and one-year-old daughter, “it’s not any different than from someone who has any other full time job.”

“When dad takes [his daughter] to work it’s a pretty good day,” Auld said. “When I come home I’m never too tired to play because that’s what I do for a living. My work is play and the worst thing you can say is there’s a lot of joy with my job.”

Steve Boone, chair and assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Film, said Auld was always a hard working student and theater was always a nice fit for him.

“He was always really fast to pick things up,” Auld said. “He understood acting, design and technical things really fast. He was a really hands-on kind of person.”

Auld now works on about 25 theatre shows a year while also teaching theatrics at Kent State University. Out of the many things Auld said had an impact on his career as a graduate from the University, one thing he never forgets is a piece of advice he once received as an undergraduate.

“A good friend of mine said, ‘If you’re not going to be happy doing anything else, why do it?’” Auld said. “And I thought about it and said ‘you’re right.’ I realized I should dedicate myself for what I want to do and I managed to make a life of doing it.”

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