Alumni Spotlight - Ellie Bye

Where are you from/why did you choose Penn State?

I hail from Buckingham, Pennsylvania. The summer before my senior year in high school I searched up and down the east coast for the perfect art school.  Then, during fall semester of my senior year my mom told me she had made an appointment to visit Penn State. I was not pleased; I told her it was a waste of time and she basically took me kicking and screaming. However, the second I stepped foot on campus I knew Penn State was the school for me. I fell in love with the energy and pride of the student body, and I was excited to become a part of that community.

I’ll always remember the morning we arrived to campus there was a blanket of fog covering Happy Valley. It wasn’t until we returned to the car that we realized we were parked adjacent to the massive structure that is Beaver Stadium. It was the cherry on top.

What's one unforgettable memory you have from your time at school? 

One unforgettable memory is being Prop Master for The Medium, directed by Nathan Brewer. The show took place in the living room of the Schreyer House, where I designed props to create a spooky atmosphere. During one performance we had a torrential downpour with howling winds. That night, all the components of live entertainment came together for an amazing theatrical experience. I felt truly proud to be part of that production.

What are you up to now?

After several years of freelancing in NYC, I am now the Theater Properties Supervisor for the Graduate Theater Department at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Each year we produce seven theatrical productions designed by 3rd year MFA students, with each show receiving full support from a team of theater professionals.  

My responsibilities consist of budgeting, sourcing, shopping, building, sewing, upholstering, mold making and casting, painting…you name it. I manage a small crew that makes it all happen, including a student production assistant.

I’m also an adjunct faculty member co-teaching a class called Stagecraft for Scenery this fall to 1st year MFA students in set design. Teaching is a new experience for me, and I absolutely love it.

How has your training at Penn State helped you get to where you are now?

With a fine arts background, I entered Penn State’s School of Theater with an emphasis in sound design. Under the tutelage of the faculty and staff, I found my way to set design and props, which is exactly where I belonged. Renee Kredell, the prop supervisor at the time, served as an amazing mentor and role model.

I think the most influential aspect of attending Penn State’s School of Theater, however, came from the student body. My closest friends challenged and inspired me to accept summer internships at Williamstown Theater Festival and The Santa Fe Opera. Today, I look around and see these same people working professionally in NYC and beyond.  

Photo of theatre alum, Ellie Bye

Photo of theatre alum, Ellie Bye, at the Santa Fe Opera prop shop


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