Thursday, June 30, 2016

Spotlight On...Andrew Clarke

Name: Andrew Clarke

Hometown: Montego Bay, Jamaica

Education: Edna Manley College (School of Drama) Jamaica & Brooklyn Colllege, NY

Select Credits: Fences, Flambeaux, The Black That I Am, A Girl Without Wings
Why theater?: I have no choice in the matter really. I was born for this. I belong on the stage. I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else. Well maybe singing if you consider that a separate vocation from theatre but it is still the stage. This is when I most at home, alive and in my element. So if I am asked why theatre, I’d say why not? Why the torture? Because that’s what life would be being anywhere else.

Who do you play in A Man Like You?: I play Hassan. Somali pirate. He appears to just be a hot head, but he’s quite observant as well.

Tell us about A Man Like You: A Man Like You is a conversation between a British hostage, Patrick North, and his Somali captor Abdi, set in a windowless concrete room in Somalia. Elizabeth, North’s wife provides a counter-point to the story, from the Norths’ house in Nairobi.  The play was inspired by the events of 21st September 2013, when Somali men from the terrorist group Al Shabaab opened fire on shoppers at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, killing at least 67. Following the tragic attack the perpetrators were often referred to as 'animals' and 'inhuman', and indeed it was hard to feel they were anything different when the CCTV footage of them blowing civilians away in cold blood was released.  The same footage also showed them however washing their feet and praying in the aisles of Nakumatt supermarket where most of the victims died, a powerful reminder that however repulsive it is, those terrorists and hundreds others like them all over the world have a rationale for their actions, and that it is one that the world basically refuses to engage with. We do not really want to look inside the mind of a terrorist and properly understand what motivates him; it may be uncomfortable, painful and worse, we may discover that in some ways we even identify with his truth.

What is it like being a part of A Man Like You?: Being a Jamaican and also an immigrant to the U.S., this is quite the interesting experience. I am hearing about the event that inspired the writing of the play for the first time thanks to this production and find myself being so drawn into the story of these men who lead such different lives, come from such different realities, who share such differing views, but I hear merit in both their arguments. It is such an almost uncomfortable place to be in when you hear through the words the playwright has put into each characters mouth ideals and concepts which make you rethink your perspective on certain things or even more importantly how we have been conditioned to respond and perceive certain people and situations.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theatre that is riveting, thought provoking, makes you uncomfortable even. Theatre that causes you to question life, your choices, who you are, and the decisions you make or have made. Theatre is that mirror held up to our face that we’ve paid X amount to be shown a reflection of ourselves, sometimes one we are not aware existed or may not be willing or prepared to accept exists.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Oh the best villain one could imagine…that person that people just HATE with a passion. I wanna make folks uncomfortable, repulsed and even my friends watch in disbelief as I have transformed into this other person, this other thing. Any role that allows me to one day do that is the role I would love to play!

What’s your favorite showtune?: “Serenade” from The Student Prince

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: On this list, Cicely Tyson, Phylicia Rashad and James Earl Jones

Who would play you in a movie about yourself, and what would it be called?: Taye Diggs.  “The life and times of Andrew Clarke.”  haha

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The original Dreamgirls.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Almost every musical currently on Broadway. Head of Pass - now closed.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Food! In general. I am such a fatty. Food will be the death of me though I want to be fit and sexy! haha

What’s up next?: The release of my debut EP. New territory, scary as hell!

For more on A Man Like You, visit