A drama student since Winter 2015, Derek Sytsma can see the future. Or, four years of it at least. So can 10 of his fellow thespians as they enter stage right, yank open the red-velvet curtain and reenact the theater club on campus.
The new club was approved by student government last week.
Sytsma is a student assistant to theater professor Gene Biby and has filled other roles, such as acting in different productions since winter quarter of 2016.
“I run around the theater like a chicken with my head cut off,” Sytsma said.
Sytsma saw demand for the club last year, but no one acting on it. Since he had been a leader of a club in all four years of high school, he said he decided to take initiative and revive it.
Sytsma is the student representative with Biby as the faculty advisor. According to Sytsma the club will be a good way to observe and gain the confidence to try out for plays, take Biby’s classes and pursue theater outside of Clark.
“I want to help take away the fear of auditioning,” he said about the club’s potential impact.
Sytsma has a four-year vision for the club. The first year he will focus on attracting attention, followed by training in the second year.
In the third and fourth year of the club’s reestablishment, Sytsma will focus on building a true community theater company at Clark.
“I don’t like that it’s small, but with that smallness there’s a kinship,” he said. “We take care of each other.”
Sytsma said he is holding off on finding someone to pass the leadership of the club to. Not only will he keep enrolling in classes beyond graduation to stay involved in the club, but he also wants to allow the opportunity of a promising incoming freshman to take the lead when he gets his Bachelor’s degree in 2020.
Biby said there was no active theater club when he arrived in 2011. And while the club was active during the 2015-2016 school year, it wasn’t last year. Because Clark is a two-year college, Biby and Owsley said the club’s presence on campus is cyclic.
Mark Owsley, who’s been a theater instructor, stage manage and production director since he came to clark in 1984, said that in the past, the club would bring in experts on a certain style of acting to help actors in productions at the time, but Sytsma doesn’t “feel the need [to] bring in experts.”
“We have many phenomenal directors in our Rolodex,” Sytsma said.
Although clubs get their funding through ASCC, such as the $100 all chartered clubs get, Sytsma said the club can get funding through selling refreshments at plays as well.
Sytsma said he is excited to look at the activity within the theater program at the end of the year and see how the club has impacted the program as a whole.
The club is expected to have their meetings on Thursdays. Contact Sytsma at D.Sytsma@students.clark.edu or Biby at GBiby@Clark.edu for more information about the club.