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Tag Archives: director

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…”

As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

A man has died, and I am undone.

On Monday morning, as I was preparing for work, I received notice that Clark Ginapp, my high school English teacher and theatre director, had died. I had been told that he had at most, a few weeks left, and that was less than 24 hours before. I’d been drafting a letter to him that I intended to mail. I didn’t feel it was my place to try to call him, despite some reassurances that it was. Now that letter, an update on how my life had gone in the years since our last class together, remains unwritten.

I can’t overstate the importance of Mr. Ginapp in my life. I grew up attending almost all of the high school theatre department’s shows. When I was in high school, I leapt at the chance to take part in them. As a director, Mr. Ginapp guided me through seven shows (three plays and four musicals):

The Wizard of Oz – Munchkin Lawyer/Winkie/Jitterbug
The Wind in the Willows – Clerk of the Court/Weasel (The British/Gay Weasel)
Little Shop of Horrors – Radio Show Host/Chorus
The Egg and I – Hi-Baby
State Fair – Harry Ware
I Remember Mama – Peter Thorkleson
Grease – Kenickie Murdoch

Each year, he cast me in bigger roles (with the exception of The Egg and I, because I was going to be out of the country for two weeks in the middle of rehearsals). Each show, he put that much more faith in me, put me under that much more pressure to be better. He believed in me, and I, in turn, came to believe in myself. We learned about proper blocking, and how to project our voices. We learned that the average human being is a dull-witted slug. We learned that “nobody’s cool, everybody sucks.” When I delivered Harry’s final farewell to Margy during dress rehearsal for State Fair, he said that if I could do it with that much emotion on opening night, that I wouldn’t leave a dry eye in the house. During Grease, he told me that if I ever grew into my feet, I’d be a giant. These sort of stories just stick with you. More and more have come back to me this week as I’ve tried to write this.

As a teacher, he was my instructor for sophomore English, as well as AP English during my senior year. He introduced me to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which I can now quote along with in my sleep (I have witnesses). He showed me the surprising depth of The Simpsons, and made me memorize Marc Antony’s soliloquy from Julius Caesar (and he had all of the cues prepared to help students remember the next lines). He taught me Macbeth, and that we should only refer to it as “The Scottish Play” while we were backstage (note that this reading was assigned while we were in the middle of a show). He is profoundly, and terrifyingly responsible for my sense of humor.

In college, I majored in English. I took a theatre class, and continued to support the local arts community in Colorado Springs. I further developed my love for literature and poetry, and made that my career when I began my work in libraries. I’m not a teacher, but I hope to have as much of an impact on the teens that I work with as he had on me.

This week, I have seen the beautiful notes left to him by my fellow students. I have shared in the grief of my community, and I have reflected for many hours on my time with him. I would not be the person I am today without Mr. Ginapp. Clark taught me that there was a bigger world beyond the city limits of Holyoke, and more importantly, he taught me that this was not something to be feared, but to be embraced.

I haven’t been able to decide which Shakespeare quote fits best now. On Monday, after first hearing the news, my mind immediately went to Hamlet’s speech, which I shared on facebook at the time. Several others have arisen since, and I think I’ll share each of them with you here. Mr. Ginapp, I hope, would be proud that so many of his lessons have lingered.

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Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

-Marc Antony, Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene II

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Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

The Tempest, Act IV, Scene I

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“Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint: now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon’d be,
Let your indulgence set me free.”

-Prospero’s Epilogue, The Tempest

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You have taken your final bow, my friend. The stage is dark. The curtain falls.

Farewell.