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Selfie of Izze Clark, my article interviewee, taken by Izze Clark
Selfie of Izze Clark, my article interviewee, taken by Izze Clark
Photo by Izze Clark

Spotlight on Izze Clark: Student Director of UMTG’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

This week, while in Franklin Dining Hall, I had the pleasure of interviewing the fabulous and ever-talented Izze Clark (they/them). Izze is a member of UMass Theatre Guild, a student-run theater troupe on campus, and this semester they will be directing Picasso at the Lapin Agile. I was lucky enough to pick their brain about all things theater, including the particulars of their directing process, and their personal goals for the show.

While they were originally accepted to UMass as an architecture major, Izze officially declared horticulture as their major just hours before the start of classes. Now a junior, Izze said that they are so glad they decided to switch to a major that truly makes them happy. They are also pursuing a certificate in ICONS (Integrated Concentration in Science), and a minor in theater. They have been involved in UMass Theatre Guild for two years now, and have certainly made a splash! You might recognize Izze from Guild’s production of The Moors as Emelie, or Rocky Horror Picture Show, for which they were set designer, and also played the roles of Trixie and Magenta. This semester, though, they opted to hop into the director’s chair for Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a comedy written by Steve Martin.

When asked about their choice to direct, Izze explained, “I think with any other production, I wouldn’t be nearly as passionate about it.” While visiting their former high school director and current mentor, Izze grabbed a bunch of plays from the director’s library. Picasso at the Lapin Agile was the first of these plays that Izze truly fell in love with, so much so that they pitched it to Guild and campaigned for it to be produced. Although the show is not mainstream by any means, Izze describes it as “the perfect comedy,” and is sure audiences will thoroughly enjoy it.

Selfie of Izze Clark, taken by Izze Clark, horizontal format
Photo by Izze Clark

I was eager to find out what directing has been like for Izze, especially since they were just on the other side of the table as an actor last semester. Izze explained that while it has definitely been nerve-wracking, they have found a lot of comfort in the people on their creative team. They found auditions particularly enjoyable, as they were able to see actors and actresses from all different backgrounds offer up their unique talents and make bold choices with the text. When casting the show, Izze’s goal was to create a strong team. When speaking about the wide range of individuals who auditioned for the show, Izze said, “Everyone needs this for their own reason, and they all have something valuable to bring.”

Izze has many goals for Picasso at the Lapin Agile. First and foremost, they hope to make the show an environmentally-friendly production. Rather than buying wood to build sets or dropping big money on costumes, Izze plans to utilize second-hand items, thrifted furniture, and clothing from the actors’ own closets to create the show. Izze explained, “I want to focus more on making an impact with the story, and not so much with the materials we’ve used.” By making sustainability a goal for their show, Izze reminds us that we can still create beautiful art while also being mindful of its impact on the environment. In terms of the rehearsal process, Izze’s main goal is to facilitate a collaborative effort between the actors and the creative team to provide the best experience (and show) possible. Despite being incredibly busy, Izze also hopes to savor every moment of the directing experience and take as much away from the process as they can. Izze explains, “This opportunity is not one you find many places, especially on a college campus… one thing about Guild is that it’s full of opportunities for new people regardless of your experience, which is beautiful! And being able to take full advantage of this, I… I’m not going to do it in vain”. Since directing is one of Izze’s favorite parts of the day, they emphasized the importance of completing all their not-so-fun work before heading to rehearsal. They said that by getting the tedious work out of the way, they make sure that the time they spend doing what they love is earned.

I concluded our interview by asking Izze what theater at UMass has meant for them. Excitedly, Izze explained, “I found every person that I appreciate in one room… theater can be a handful, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” They went on to say that UMass Theatre Guild, specifically, has been a very special creative space for them. They described it as a tight-knit community that runs on collaboration; everyone is constantly learning from one another and encouraging each other to take risks. When I asked if they would recommend Guild to others, they responded by saying, “Every person should try some aspect of performing arts at least once in their life, whether it’s tech, or getting on stage… it’s a true escape from everything going on around you. It’s therapeutic to pretend like you’re not yourself for a few hours!” They strongly recommend Guild to anyone looking to experience that kind of artistic escape.

See Izze’s vision for Picasso at the Lapin Agile come to life April 13, 14, and 15 at 7 p.m. and April 15 at 1 p.m. in the Student Union Blackbox Theater. For ticket information, and to learn more about UMass Theatre Guild, check out their Instagram account (@umtheatreguild) or visit their website (https://umasstheatreguild.weebly.com/).

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Hanna Jane Kilduff

U Mass Amherst '24

When Hanna Jane isn't writing for Her Campus, you'll find her wandering aimlessly through thrift stores, listening to her color-coded playlists, or curled up under a blanket with her cat.