10 Questions with DP Theater Teacher Clark Sayre

By Sarah O'Hara

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By Sara O’Hara | Staff Writer | October 25, 2011

This fall, the Dos Pueblos Theater Company will perform Like You Like It,  a modern revival of Shakespeare’s play As You Like It.

Clark Sayre (Photo courtesy of DP Yearbook)

The Charger Account sat down with theater teacher and Like You Like It director Mr. Sayre to get on the inside scoop on the fall play, advice for perspective theater students, and what it takes to put on a Dos Pueblos production.

Q: Tell me a little bit about the play and what we can expect to see if we go to the play.

Like You Like It is based on Shakespeare’s As You Like It, but set in a mall in the 80’s. Told in the style of classic 80’s teen movies (16 Candles, Breakfast Club etc.), the play follows a girl, Rosalind, who is too shy to tell Orlando that she likes him. Instead, she dresses as a guy to find out how he really feels about her. There are several other subplots involving lots of characters who end up with someone unexpected. It’s lots of fun and easy for high school students to relate to since all the characters are in high school. In fact, adults are portrayed as either cardboard cut-outs or offstage voice-overs. It’s a very teen oriented show with many topics that students will find really relevant.

Q: How did you hear about this play?

I first heard about Like You Like It from my friend Steve Fickinger who is the VP of Disney Theatricals in New York. He knew I was looking for new stuff for high school-aged students and suggested I get in touch with the writer Sammy Buck and Dan Acquisto. I immediately loved the show and decided to do a workshop production in Santa Barbara several years ago. Dos Pueblos math teacher Kelly Ary, a very talented singer/actress in her spare time, played the lead. I’ve been waiting for a long time to do a full production of it and this fall seemed like good timing.

Q: How much time goes into the production of a play?

We rehearse from 3-6pm Monday through Friday, usually for 2 ½ to 3 months. It takes good commitment. Those in a sport usually have to choose which season they want to play a sport and which season they’d like to do a play. Since rehearsals are often the same time as practices, it is almost never possible to do both at the same time. We do offer PE credit for those whose roles demand great physical activity.

Q: What part do you take in the production of the play?

I direct the play and a past student of mine, Gioia Marchese, is choreographing and producing. John Douglas serves as musical director, Miller James designed costumes and Rafael Perea designed the set. The Technical Director is John Faass.

Q: What advice could you give to someone new to theater who wants to try out for the play?

In order to be cast in an after school production, you either have to have taken a theater class, or be currently enrolled in one. In some cases, when casting is particularly difficult, I will allow actors to audition if they commit to taking a theater class the next semester. I want to know my actors and their work habits before I cast them and ensure they have some basic skills. Taking classes also helps actors become aware of what I look for in auditions and have a better chance to succeed.

Q: What would it take for someone to be cast as a lead character?

Lead characters need lots of confidence and charisma. For musicals, they have to both strong actors and strong singers. Sometimes dance or gymnastics is key, depending on the role. the best way to train is to take the Musical Theater class (TA ADV) which helps you develop each of these skills.

Q: What is your view on the rule at DP that only people in theater can be in the play?

Play Production is an advanced level class. In order to be ready to perform in public where people pay money to watch, students need to have sequential training and some experience working with the director.

Q: How can students at DP help and get involved with the play?

They should come talk to me so I can tell them about the whole theater program and determine wher they might best fit in. In addition to needing actors, we also need people to work behind the scenes building sets, making costumes, working lights and sound, etc. There are at least as many crew positions as there are actors.

Q: How were you involved in theater prior to working at DP?

I performed on Broadway in Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince’s Merrily We Roll Along, Oliver with Patti LuPone and Ron Moody (Fagin from the movie), and the National tour of Sweeney Todd. I also did some TV and film prior to becoming a teacher. I was the Founding Director of SB Civic Light Opera Youth Theater and have written and directed numerous plays including many US and West Coast Premieres. I studied musical theater with LA Civic Light Opera Workshop, acting at UCLA and with David LeGrant, Carlos Noble, and Seth Barrish, voice with Edward Seyeg and Peggy Norcross, and dance with Patrick Adiarte, Chuck Kelley and numerous others. I also was a singing waiter in both LA and New York and have written and starred in four one-man shows on both the east and west coast.

Q: What is your favorite part about theater at DP?

I love the positive energy that theater students have and their willingness to think “outside the box.” We have a terrific student leadership group here at DP called the Theatre Company who plans lots of cool events like the upcoming Haunted House and Holiday Package. I love the fact that in Performing Arts, everyone is a winner. There are no losers when it comes time for a performance. We all work hard. We all get the reward of applause. I really do love my job; every day is a new discovery.

Click here for more information on the Dos Pueblos Theatre Company.

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