Thompson plays her part at Medora Amphitheatre

By Dan Fagan
University Communications

MEDORA, N.D. – There is a saying that, ‘theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place.’ For Maddie Thompson, this adage defines her approach as a theater artist.

Currently the deck manager at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre in Medora, Thompson was a standout theater student at Minot State, Campus Players president, and a regular with Minot State Summer Theatre before landing a position with North Dakota’s premiere outdoor theater attraction.

Initially, Thompson applied for a summer position in 2018 and was hired as a general technician. A month after starting her new job, Thompson was offered the chance to move up to deck manager. The deck manager oversees the backstage crew and handles most things backstage related. By the conclusion of the summer season, Thompson was offered a full-time position with the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.  

“There was a huge learning curve to overcome, and I’m still learning over a year later, but I fell in love with this job and the incredible people I get to work with every day,” Thompson said.

Deck managing at the 2,900 seat Amphitheatre during the summer is a highly demanding job. Thompson works anywhere from 50 to 75 hours a week on a show that performs seven nights a week.

“I get to the Amphitheatre around 5:15 p.m. to set up and prepare the stage, we do the show at 7:30, and then clean up and leave sometime around 10:30. During the day, I do maintenance on set pieces or props that need attention, cover positions at the other four in-town stages to give other employees a day off, and work on different projects for the show,” Thompson said.

During the winter, Thompson serves as the ticketing and merchandise manager for the Magical Medora Christmas tour. The show tours to venues in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Montana.

While Thompson’s hark work and dedication has proved to be a recipe for success, she attributes her connections and experience at Minot State with getting her in the door.

“Without my time at Minot State and Summer Theatre, I wouldn’t be in this position,” Thompson said. “Not only because the connections I made at Minot State helped me obtain this job in the first place, but because the theatre department gave me the opportunity to learn all of the different areas of theater. I was able to learn how to design and create props, sound, sets, and costumes. At Minot State Summer Theatre, I learned about working in an outdoor theater, and that has served me well working at the Medora Musical. In both the Minot State theatre program and Summer Theatre, I worked with incredible people that taught me so much, but I also learned how to work independently and figure things out on my own. I’m grateful that I had professors that allowed me to explore and try new things.”

One of Thompson’s favorite parts of her job is the people she works with. The cast and crew of the Medora Musical is comprised of individuals from all over the world.

“I had crew members from Arizona, New York, Bulgaria, and Romania. I became friends with people from Scotland and Poland. I also work with an amazing cast and a phenomenal group of technicians that have become a second family,” Thompson said.

Even though Thompson has moved on from her time at Minot State, her experience and education in the world of theater continues.

“I’ve learned a new skill in deck managing, how to be on my own in a town where I don’t know anyone, and how to work with a professional production company,” Thompson said. “I get to keep learning in Medora, and I love that.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 10/03/19   

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