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Student Blog: Letters from a Nobody in New York #2 - Ask a Professor, Marymount Edition!

Whether it’s in her Musical Theatre History Class or in Senior Portfolio, Professor Clark cares and that’s all a college student can ask for. 

Student Blog: Letters from a Nobody in New York #2 - Ask a Professor, Marymount Edition!

Professors are the gateways into your college careers, they can either make or break an institution for a student. Sometimes you meet a Professor that becomes your champion, a person who will cheer you on when you fail and when you succeed. These teachers won't have all the answers nor will they let you off the hook easy, but they will be there to listen and help guide you to the next step of your growth as an artist.

Emily Clark is one of those professors at Marymount Manhattan College who will help elevate your college education to the next level. Professor Clark (or just... Emily... But when she's feeling fancy... It's Professor Clark. We're also looking into the name Doctor Clark. Sorry Emily.), has the unique ability to look into the history of Musical Theatre and see a future for all of her students. Whether it's in her Musical Theatre History Class or in Senior Portfolio, Professor Clark cares and that's all a college student can ask for.

Three brilliant educators help run the Musical Theatre Department at MMC; Emily Clark, Christine Riley and Bethany Christine Elkin. If you choose to audition for Marymount Manhattan College you will have the blessing of running into these amazing professors. We have gone through leadership changes over the last year but these three amazing teachers anchor us as a musical theatre department. Over the next few weeks, I'll be facilitating short interviews with college professors in the New York City Area. If you have specific questions about a particular program, reach out to me on Instagram (@liamjoshuamunn) and I'll make sure to cover it next month's interview.

Emily Clark (She/Her/Hers): Assistant Marymount Manhattan College

1. Marymount Manhattan College has several different degrees in theatre; from Stage Management to a brand new BFA degree in Musical Theatre. In your opinion, what is the most attractive thing about the MMC Theatre Department?

The most attractive thing to me about MMC's Theatre Department is that our class sizes are small, of any concentration, and students and faculty are therefore given the opportunity to create strong working relationships. No student is just a face, our faculty know each of their students well and are therefore best able to support individual needs to help nurture their unique artistry. I also think it's important to note that theatre isn't about theatre--it's about politics, art, literature, culture, science, math--and because MMC's conservatory style program is housed within a Liberal Arts Institution, the well-roundedness of student education is key. MMC delivers both artistically and academically in a variety of ways to help support students who engage with the world beyond the theatre in order to become future theatrical artists.

2. Campus living means a myriad of different things across the country, Marymount Manhattan's campus happens to be in the heart of New York City. What's some of the positives and negatives of being in the city?

Professor Clark: It's almost cliché at this point to hear this at MMC, but we use New York City as our campus. Whether that's using the archives at the New York Public Library of Performing Arts, attending innovative productions at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, or visiting one of the magnificent museums the city has to offer, these are regular assignments for our students. This doesn't even mention the access students have to see the plays and musicals we are studying, often discounted or free as students at MMC! We often have professionals come and work with our students and most of our adjunct faculty are professionals in their respective fields. Classes for certain programs are also taught at various sites across the city. A graduate of MMC truly knows NYC. A downside might be that If you are looking for the "college campus" experience, I would say that Marymount is not the school for you, and that's okay! It's better to know that about the school before coming. While we have countless MMC events for students, we don't have large events like athletics, for example, which for many is something they want in a college experience.

3. You have a really unique perspective; as you earned your undergraduate degree from MMC before getting your Masters and Doctoral* degree. What are some of the biggest changes you've seen on campus; both artistically and academically?

Professor Clark: That's an interesting question!!! I want to start with a similarity which I already mentioned: even though the total number of students on campus has increased, the class sizes have not. I truly think that is so important. There still is such a strong relationship between faculty and students, which only cultivates stronger artists. I was able to come back to my professors years after graduating and they knew who I was and were able to provide me with strong recommendations for graduate schools. As you know, we recently have begun a BFA in Musical Theatre, something that didn't exist when I was a student. The program is so much stronger with much more training and professionalism! I'm envious occasionally of the opportunities students are now given. Private Voice (not required, but optional when I was a student), Music Theory, Musical Theatre History, Daily Dance (not required and only piloted my senior year), Portfolio, and Professional Preparation, were not a part of the program when I was a student. And this is partially why I went on to graduate school--I craved more education in some of these areas and now I've been able to be a part of bringing that back to the campus. I think the same could be said for many of our other programs, including the new BFAs in Design and Stage Management. Additionally, The production opportunities utilizing professional theatrical spaces across the city is also something I only dreamed about! The fact that students are given the opportunity to perform in professional theatres is an amazing educational experience and only helps better prepare them for their futures in the industry.

4. For an incoming freshman, college can be overwhelming and lonely at times. What services does Marymount Manhattan offer that makes a parent feel a little more secure about sending their child off to college?

Professor Clark: The college has implemented a variety of different programs since I've been teaching at the college in order to address the needs of our students--those change, which is why we adapt to those needs. We offer New York City Seminars to all first-year students. These are classes that all use the city, allowing our students to get more comfortable in their new home, within an academic specialty. For example, Backstage New York, which takes students to different theatrical spaces to get a "behind the scenes" look, or Eating New York, which explores different neighborhood enclaves and students indulge in the various cuisines of those areas. We also offer academic services, including our Office of Academic Access and our new LINK program, help students achieve academic success. We also offer counseling services at our Counseling and Wellness Center for those students in need and that office offers outreach programs throughout the year available to all students. I also wanted to mention that because the class sizes are small, students get to know each other very quickly and engage with each other both inside and outside the classroom. They aren't a face in a giant lecture! The sense of community is strong at MMC.

5. If you had to explain the theatre department at Marymount Manhattan College in three words to a stranger, what would they be?

Professor Clark: How do you get these to not come across in a cheesy way?! I would say: Creative, Unique, Community.

Big thanks to Professor Emily Clark for her time and words. If you're interested in auditioning for Marymount Manhattan College, go ahead and check out the MMC Website (http://mmm.edu). We will see you in a few weeks for our next article. Till next time, friend.

BIO: Liam Joshua Munn (he/him) is a New York Actor who has been seen on the stages of Williamstown Theatre Festival, Barrington Stage, Walt Disney World & Lincoln Center. His voice can be heard singing some spooky Bass harmonies on Ryan Scott Oliver's new album, Future Demons. Liam made his 54 Below debut last year with his solo cabaret show "Sailing" and he is planning on taking it around the country. Season 2 of his Theatre Interview Podcast "on the callboard" has just premiered with several special guests from around the theatre industry. liamjoshuamunn.com//@liamjoshuamunn


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