WIU Alumnus Scenic Designer for CBS' Super Bowl Productions
January 24, 2013
MACOMB, IL – Before CBS broadcasters converge on downtown New Orleans (LA) for the Feb. 3 Super Bowl, one Western Illinois University graduate will have a hand in designing the stages they will speak to the world from.
Michael Kramer, a 2000 Theatre Master of Fine Arts graduate, is working as a senior designer with the New Orleans-based Solomon Group to design the stages that CBS programming will use during the week leading up to the Super Bowl game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
During the process, a flurry of design and construction has taken place in downtown New Orleans, and specifically, on the stages that will be placed in Jackson Square Park, the convention center and Champions Square at the Superdome.
"CBS Broadcasting for the entire week before the Super Bowl will be live from Jackson Square Park," Kramer said. "The theme is French Quarter, New Orleans, Mardi Gras-style. We are trying to be a part of the city and make it feel like the stages have always been there."
One way designers are trying to accomplish the melding of stages and downtown is to include historical components.
"We are building with refurbished objects and reclaimed wood," he said. "Nothing is detrimental to the environment in any way. We are doing things like the city of New Orleans has done after Hurricane Katrina – we are taking what was broken and making it new again. The area has come back from the brink and remaking the city in a way that is more exciting than ever."
Kramer came to Western after being awarded his undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1997. There, he worked for WIU alumnus Steven Schepker, a 1993 graduate with a Master's of Fine Arts degree in theatre design.
"I worked for him back stage in college and I fell in love with the theatre; I found my niche working for him," Kramer said. "He sent many of his students to WIU for graduate degrees. It's a neat conduit coming from Louisiana to Western."
During his time at Western, Kramer said he developed the skills needed to move on to work in the theatre industry in New York (NY).
"I am happy to be a Western grad because there I gained the tools I need every day; the toolbox of ideas and the way I think about things – I got that from Western."
Kramer also credits WIU professors Tim Kupka, Ray Gabica, Egla Hassan and Mim Canny and WIU Department of Theatre and Dance Chair David Patrick for assisting him during his time at Western.
After graduating from WIU, Kramer spent 10 years in New York City doing freelance theatre design and eventually working with the production company Hotopp Design of New York.
"I say I got my degree from Western and then I did my residency at Hotopp," Kramer said. "Then I fell into a niche of sports and began working with ESPN and the Golf Channel."
Since graduation, Kramer has done extensive set design for ESPN's "SportsNation," as well as work with Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, ABC and a number of New York theatre productions.
For more information about the Solomon Group and Kramer's work, visit solomongroup.com/story.