Through my involvement The Sandspur, I’ve come to appreciate the different approaches and experiences that result when a student completely takes charge of—well, anything. The passion and commitment that ensues is always unique to each case. As many of our readers are aware, the Fred Stone Theatre hosts full-length productions directed by Rollins’ very own students, and Sarah Clark ’15 directed the recently ended Time Stands Still. I had a brief conversation with Clark in which she recounted her background, how she was drawn to the play, her highlights and challenges with directing her peers, and the quality of her actors.
As is the case with most enthusiasts, Clark’s passion for theater developed early, when she was in high school. She initially “fell into directing,” but quickly took to the craft, enamored and impressed with her relative skill. She finds pleasure in all the minute folds of directing: “when an actor has a breakthrough in rehearsals, when a designer comes to you so excited with an idea, [and] when you look at the stage—which in my case was once an empty black room—and it has been transformed into an apartment.” Clark began her undergraduate degree at NYU but transferred to Rollins last year because it was one of the only guaranteed opportunities that she would have to direct a complete production opposed to a few scenes here and there for class.
Clark had the rare luck to direct her all-time favorite play. Traditionally, Fred Stone performances are pre-selected by the Second-Stage Reading Committee; however, they couldn’t secure the rights to the show that Clark was originally meant to direct. Thus, she was allowed to give input to Committee Head Thomas Ouelette, and Time Stands Still was chosen. Clark fell in love with the show when she saw it on Broadway during her high school years. The experience changed her. Clark describes it as “a challenging piece of contemporary theatre that is important for people to see, particularly college students preparing to embark on their journeys into the ‘real world,’” sparking critical discussions about current events.
Like a mother, Clark has enjoyed witnessing and nurturing her actors as they developed their characters—and their effervescent energy in general. She described some of their rehearsals as “super-charged,” where they would accomplish triple the amount of work in their brief designated period. The general excitement of the cast and crew superseded the drain of an extensive time-commitment.
The major obstacle Clark faced was aiding her actors in portraying characters who are 20 to 30 years their senior. The actors had to make the audience believe that they had lived all those years and experienced the violence of the Middle East. Clark said, “It’s asking a lot of two second-year undergrads to take that on, but they have.” Clark was humbled to have witnessed each a-ha moment for her actors and constantly beamed with pride each show night. She hopes to have truly created a piece of art that changes each audience member, just as she was profoundly changed after walking out of the Broadway theater that one high-school evening.