Building devotion

Ellie Koechner

Merriam-Webster defines devotion as, “the act of dedicating something to a cause, enterprise or activity.” 

Rod Bowen and Mark Hepworth are the very definition of devotion when it comes to set building. 

Bowen and Hepworth are both former Rockwell Collins engineers. As engineers, they enjoy solving problems and creating things that other people can use to accomplish a task. Bowen and Hepworth use their strengths and abilities to help out the Xavier Drama Department in any way they can. 

“We are both fathers and all of our children went to Xavier [Hepworth: Neil (X00), Daniel (X03), Rachael (X07), Bowen: Jennielee (X99), Daniel (X01)], so this gives us a very close connection to high school aged students. As fathers and engineers, we also love to teach, so all those things mix together to allow us to have a creative, educational, problem solving experience,” Hepworth said. 

Prior to working on the first set they did together at Xavier, Hepworth and Bowen did not know each other, but shared similar backgrounds and interests. 

“Rod started working on sets at Regis and moved to Xavier when his kids moved here. I started at Xavier. My son was in “Brigadoon” and he asked me to come to school to help build sets and I had no idea what I was walking into,” Hepworth said.

Even after both Bowen and Hepworth’s children left, almost 14 years later, they continued to do set building because it is a way for them to have fun in a great work environment. 

Although set building has always been their main priority at Xavier, they have not been afraid to tackle other  challenges  that  come  their way. 

“As time has gone on, we have also picked up duties other than set building, including maintenance, training for the light system and the sound system and a fair bit of general theater related upkeep,” Bowen said. 

23 years and 56 shows later, both men enjoy the building as much as they did when they first started. 

“We are volunteers.  Everything we do we have learned from working together.  We do not have any formal training, but we do research different topics or techniques when needed and we each typically work 400-500 hours per show,” Hepworth said. 

One of their main goals even when designing and building a set is to reuse as much as possible from show-to-show. After shows, they disassemble and save everything that they might be able to use again, including every screw, washer, nut and bolt. 

Over the years Hepworth and Bowen have worked with 9 musical directors, Mike Cervantes being the longest. Through countless amounts of musicals, late nights, and early mornings, Cervantes has become close with both men. 

“These two friends of mine complete the Drama program, they are invaluable. Their artistic creativity and building skills are beyond compare. Over the years we have become the best of friends and I don’t know what I would do without them. There is no set that I suggest to them that they can’t build,” Cervantes said. 

While the dedication, hard work and determination may not be visible to those watching the show, Bowen and Hepworth’s devotion and love for what they do does not go unnoticed.