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Faculty Profile: Michelle Bombe
Associate Professor of Theatre,
Director of Theatre,and
Resident Costume Designer

As the director of theatre and resident costume designer at Hope College, Michelle Bombe combines a love of theatre with tactile creativity, making her passions into her career.

“I grew up creating things,” she says, recalling a childhood of quilting, sewing, and 4H projects. “I was in touch with this love of fiber and texture right away, and it took me a while to put that together with my theatre love.”

During college, watching a performance she helped design, she realized that costume design was a way to blend her interests.
“There was so much of me on stage, but nobody else knew it,” she said. “I realized I could put everything together that I was passionate about.”

For eight years, Professor Bombe has involved her passion for theatre and costume design with the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival’s educational outreach program, “Shakespeare Behind Bars.” She spends her summers working with prison inmates and designing costumes for their free community performances of Shakespeare.

The project ties into her own belief that the arts make a difference in people’s lives.

“It’s working on Shakespeare, but it’s also life lessons,” she says. “And these particular men that are part of this company have, through William Shakespeare, learned how to examine their lives and examine their motives and examine their choices by working on a character.”

Professor Bombe hopes to extend the kind of community-involved theatre work that she does in Kentucky to a local setting. She says, “I think it’s a natural fit for Hope; we have a lot of students that want to use their gifts in a service-oriented way.”

As a professor, she encourages her students to discover how they can use their own gifts to make a difference in the world.

“What I try to teach my students is to consider how you can make the world a better place,” Professor Bombe says. “What can you do today, what can you do every day when you wake up, to make this world better? What is my contribution going to be? How can you use your gifts, your talents to make a difference?”

At the same time, as a marathon runner, a yoga enthusiast, and mother of two, she encourages students to learn how to balance their passions with the rest of life.

“Part of what’s important is my life outside the theatre,” she says. “I think it’s important for students to realize how you balance your work and your life.”

This profile was written by Melissa Sexton, a 2005 Hope College graduate from Kalamazoo, Mich., for the 2005-06 Hope College Catalog.

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