South Tahoe alum excels behind scenes |

South Tahoe alum excels behind scenes

Dan Thrift

Jennifer Schmidt / Tribune News Service Matt McKinney, a 1996 graduate of South Tahoe High School, is the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival's technical director.

Growing up, Matt McKinney liked to solve problems. Little did he know that it would turn into a career that would bring him back to the basin as the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival’s technical director.

“Anytime something electronic was thrown out, I was taking it apart trying to figure out what was wrong,” McKinney said Thursday morning from his office at the University of Nevada, Reno.

McKinney wasn’t involved in theater production until his senior year at South Tahoe High School, when he decided to check it out and found his niche – technical director.

After graduation, McKinney earned a master of fine arts in technical theater from San Diego State University, then worked with the Old Globe Theater in San Diego before working in theatrical and film production.

In August 2006, UNR named McKinney its technical director, teaching stagecraft and scene design while overseeing the university’s four to five annual productions.

This year, he is technical director for the annual Shakespeare festival at Sand Harbor, overseeing the construction of the sets and scenery for the shows.

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“I like problem-solving,” he said. “A set designer will come to me and say, ‘Make this happen,’ and I get to figure it out. The set for ‘Richard III’ is massive. There are 18-feet-high walkways, actors cross them, and they have to be safe – that’s the No. 1 priority.

“I have to admit, striking the set is my favorite part.”

Striking the set means working to dismantle everything onstage after a production ends. It’s an area of McKinney’s expertise.

The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival has added an additional week of performances, from Aug. 18-21.