With a Masters of Fine Arts in Directing Shakespeare from the University of Exeter in England it’s no wonder that Department Chair of the Theatre Department at Utah Valley University, Christopher Clark makes the annual trek to London to see Shakespeare preformed at the Globe. What's amazing is that he brings along his students. I must admit this made me consider going back to school.
While many of us may not get to experience London with Christopher, we have been fortunate to have the opportunity to see his amazing directing work in several local productions. Many people may recognize him from some of his most recent works such as 39 Steps at Hale Center Theatre in Orem, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers up at Sundance and Sound of Music or My Fair Lady at Hale in Salt Lake. However, if you ask him some of his favorites you will find the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s touring production of Macbeth and a production of Nosferatu a few years back.
After some drama camps as a young child and a bit of acting in high school (King and I), Christopher when on an LDS (Latter Day Saint) mission and returned home with dreams of being a lawyer. For a while he worked in retail before he realized he was “kinda miserable” and started acting again.
Now, he considers himself a “High concept director. I like to think outside of the box, change time periods and take risks in the choices I make. I’m not really attracted to theater that’s status quo.” He went on to advise those interested in doing what he does to “get the little letters by your name as they are important. Education and schooling is essential because you do better when you understand where you come from. Knowing the history of theater and reading as many plays as you can is what will set you apart.”
Christopher believes that “Theater is a living art.” He is worried that so much of TV and film has become a commercial experience. If one stays at home to watch a movie then they miss out on the collective experience that is shared in the theater. Even in a movie theater you miss what the actors bring to the environment. With theater competing against instant media and people leaving their homes less and less it’s essential that we do all what we can do to not lose this art of storytelling.
From A Theater Lover to another:
Megan “What is your favorite Play?”
Christopher: “As You Like It, The Cherry Orchard by Chekhov or the Rabbit Hole. I also really like 39 Steps from a directors view point and Xanadu.”
Megan “What is your favorite musical?"
Christopher: “Anything by Sondheim. I really like Little Night Music, Oliver, Cabaret, Ragtime, Urinetown, and The Drowsy Chaperone.”
Megan: “If you were one musical or play, which one would you be and why?”
Christopher: “Sunday in the Park with George because I can relate to wanting to create something new and wanting to put something in the world that is original. And if I were a play it would be As You Like It because it’s very sweet, funny and lighthearted.”
Megan: “Any parting advice or thoughts?”
Christopher “Lets keep pushing each other to do great work. We should know what the rest of the world is doing. We need to push to take risks and think outside the box. Theater is an art form, not just a form of entertainment.”