USF School of Theatre & Dance Stage Manager helps students find confidence to share their stories
For College of the Arts stage manager Amanda Clark, no production she has been involved with can be compared to the emotionally charged student showcase This is My Brave.
“It’s like the Super Bowl halftime show, you don’t know what’s going to happen because you’ve never done it before,” she said. “There’s this sort of electric energy in the room, which makes it more fun and more alive.”
This is My Brave is a live event that gives students the opportunity to share their personal stories pertaining to mental health through mediums such as poetry, essays and original music.
Clark graduated from the University of Richmond in 1995 with a degree in both theater and history. After a recommendation from a professor, she packed her things and traveled across the country to become an intern at the Globe Theater in San Diego.
Before she knew it, a three-month internship turned into a three-year job. Clark continued to work around the country at various theater companies, but made her way to Tampa when her husband found a position at USF. Now as a teacher of stage management, she said she’s learned that finding her weakness has made a way to show her strengths.
“I always tell my students to figure out what they do and don’t do well and then figure out how to compensate for that,” Clark said.
“There will always be things you don’t do well. I can’t remember anything, I’m a terrible multitasker. I have to be clear with people that there are some things I’m just not going to remember. I also discovered my willingness to step in and help others. Even if it’s not something I know how to do, I just jump in and figure it out as I go.”
Now a veteran stage manager, Clark has been working at USF since 2006. As a national nonprofit organization, This is My Brave uses the arts to help reduce stigmas surrounding mental health.
The production will return to USF this April after its first showing in 2021. USF is just the second university to bring the show to a college audience. Working with non-actors who are reading about their personal struggles with mental health is something Clark said she admires most about the production.
“The people who are auditioning aren’t actors, they’re telling their story,” Clark said. “Auditions were amazing and raw, and I cried. It’s a different thing to watch people who aren’t actors audition, it’s an act of bravery.”
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