Theatre Newsletter | April 2022
Dan Rairdin-Hale '04 came to St. Ambrose University because he had a blast at his Theatre scholarship audition and thought the campus was pretty. Well, maybe there were a few more factors at play, but the Theatre Department is grateful that Rairdin-Hale chose to study here because he is now Chair of the Theatre Department.
During his studies here, Rairdin-Hale studied Theatre and Art and was in almost every show he could be in. A favorite role of his was Eugene in Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs.
After graduation, Rairdin-Hale spent his first post-graduate summer working in a Minnesota theatre. After that, he moved to Chicago to start graduate school at DePaul University and he credits SAU faculty with preparing him for graduate school.
"They gave me a solid foundation and work ethic and hands-on experience that I could draw on in Chicago, at graduate school, and at summerstock," he said.
In 2008, Rairdin-Hale found his way back to our campus as an adjunct professor. The next year he became a full-time professor and later went on to step in as the head of the Theatre Department, where he continues to work now.
Rairdin-Hale shared that he came back to SAU because he loved the program. He hadn't necessarily planned on coming back to be a professor, but after starting a family and recalling his fond memories of the school and the area, he knew that the Quad Cities would be the perfect place for their home. But Rairdin-Hale didn't come back empty handed. He returned with ample experience and a Chicagoan's understanding of theatre so he was ready to bring a fresh perspective into the program that once served him.
"One of the things I always appreciated about this program was how individualized it can be," said Rairdin-Hale. "If you have an interest in a specific area of theatre, even if there isn't a class in that area, the faculty and staff made it their mission, to give you that experience to give you that independent study, to teach you that piece of equipment or that aspect of theatre, even though it wasn't offered as part of the curriculum."
Rairdin-Hale's work has continued on the Ambrosian beauty that had made this department what it is. He wants to remind students to "never wait on the approval of others; every single one of you has the power to make opportunities for yourselves. You don't need to wait on others to provide them."
Over the years he has also created many wonderful memories both as a student and a faculty member.
"My favorite memories are the people," he reported. "[I enjoy] getting to work with everyone here, Cory, Kris, Mike, everyone."
With the Theatre major being cut and changes throughout the halls though, Rair-dinHale knows this department and the strength of its people and community will remain.
"I hope we find a way to continue to connect people with the arts and performance opportunities, and each other," he stated. "I hope we continue to foster a community of students that take risks and are also there to lift each other up. I don't know the specifics yet, but I hope we can continue to thrive as an artistic community."
Even with some of the major changes coming up, Rairdin-Hale will undoubtedly still continue to offer a home to the theatre community at St. Ambrose. He has the heart of an Ambrosian and we are so glad that he values and serves the SAU Theatre Department.