ANNE BOGART, Artistic Director, SITI Company
When I was a school kid in Providence, Rhode Island, I was brought in on a yellow bus one day to the Trinity United Methodist Church, where the Trinity Repertory Company was performing Macbeth, directed by Adrian Hall.
I was 15 years old and that day turned me into a director.
…I didn’t understand what was happening…and yet I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Be a director.
JAMES NEAL, Librarian, UMD Master of Library Science, 2012
I have been a jazz fan since the age of three when my father first played John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" for me. I have enjoyed jazz performances all over the United States — at the Village Vanguard in New York City, the Kennedy Center in DC, the Spoleto festival in Charleston, SC and all over the Boston area at Sculler's, the Somerville Theater, the Hatch Shell and the Regatta Bar.
Seeing Holland live and meeting him were on my jazz "bucket list." Thanks to the Center, I can check that one off.
MONICA WARREN, Artist Services Coordinator, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
I have been sitting at my desk, neck straining toward the tasks piling up on my computer screen. My right shoulder is tight from unconsciously gripping the mouse and from the worries of the day. It’s 5:54pm and I need to leave in exactly six minutes to get to rehearsal on time. I scurry to gather my things, making a mental list of chores I can’t forget for tonight and tomorrow. Juggle, juggle, juggle —even all the way to the studio, through the evening traffic.
I join the other dancers and lay myself flat onto the studio’s hard and beautiful wooden floor. I close my eyes. This is a moment of true beauty.
GERCHEL E. HOLBERT, Market Auditor
I remember going to my first performance by the Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra, followed by the opening night party. My godfather, Kenneth Ervin Kilgore, made this moment possible. It was one of the many ways he encouraged me to wonder and to be consciously apart of the larger creation.
We were all one that night, artists and spectators alike.
MURRAY HORWITZ, Playwright, director, lyricist
Sometime in my sophomore year at Kenyon College, 1967-68, the James Cotton Blues Band came to campus. Kenyon in those days was a men’s school and it was a dance weekend so there were women there but it was still mostly guys and I didn’t have a date. So I was unhappily unencumbered. I’ve always been good at getting near the stage at rock and pop music concerts, and I actually got up on the stage for that one.
I’m lying on the floor underneath the piano with the music all around me and looking over at James Cotton dancing that little two-step … and it was just really transforming.
HEIDI ONKST, UMD Senior Director, Individual Philanthropy and Regional Programs
A few years ago I had the opportunity to see Dan Hurlin’s Disfarmer at the Center. I had read about it beforehand, so I knew the story: the hermit photographer who managed to capture incredible images of the people he lived among, even though he was an outsider. I had gone to one of Dan Hurlin’s discussions before the performance so I understood about Mike Disfarmer’s background and what they were about to bring to me onstage.
…To actually see the story unfold through puppetry was amazing. I’ll never forget seeing the Disfarmer puppet get smaller as the production went on, shrinking down until he was nobody.
KATE GIBSON, Production Coordinator, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
I have a plaque on my desk that says, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. – Walt Disney”
Ballet is the only art form I ever studied in which I didn’t dream of a career. I didn’t realize until I was an adult struggling through life as a theatre artist how much I appreciated having an art form that remained a hobby.
It…led to me going back onto pointe - for no reason other than proving to myself that I could.
JOHN LAYMAN, UMD Professor Emeritus, Physics and Science Education & Donor
Theater has the luxury of generating re-creations and interpretations of events and ideas plucked from all of history and from the imaginations of men and women. Fortunately, on extraordinary occasions, theater will create new history to be savored by history’s creators and those of us privileged to be present.
The history generated that evening may have begun within our group in the Clarice Smith Center, but one cannot tell where it has gone from there.
ANTHONY DE MARE, Pianist
Although I am a concert pianist, two of the most moving performing arts experiences for me were in the theatre.
One was just a few years ago in New York, during a performance of the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. It was a British production, directed by the young Sam Buntrock, who had also worked in film and animation. The incorporation of animation within the set design throughout the show was stunning. I was also particularly struck by the simplicity of the staging and how it reflected the inner wisdom of Sondheim’s work, especially the richness of the musical score, as well as leaving an emotional impact on the viewer. The entire production moved me to tears many times over. Being so aware at the time of how this experience completely enveloped me, I realized this production deepened my love and respect for Sondheim’s work even more.
I remember leaving the theater and having to go sit down on a bench outside, feeling like I was still immersed in the pool of water that was the central aspect of the set design. I was just so lost in thought, feeling and revelation.
DAVID SAMUEL, Student
When I was a second semester freshman here at the University of Maryland, I came to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center to see The Bluest Eye, which was directed by Walter Dallas. At the time I was thinking about switching from sociology to theater. And the entire performance just had me riveted: my jaw was open, my eyes were watering. When I enjoy something my eyes get really big and I just couldn’t stop watching it.
…I was thinking, “I can’t talk to them, I can’t possibly take class with them.” Then I started taking class with them and started doing performances with them and now they’re some of my dearest friends.