Updated: Jan 27, 2020
Welcome to the latest edition of Monument's Get to Know series! Here is our interview with co-founder and Business Manger Caleb Clark! Along with his role in Monument's leadership, Caleb is also an experienced director, playwright, and designer. You can see some of his sound design prowess in the upcoming production of Hers is the Head of a Wolf.
MONUMENT: Caleb, are you ready for this?
CALEB CLARK: I think you said the same thing to Cherish.
M: I don't think you are.
M: Let's do this. What’s your favorite color?
CC: Uh, green, I suppose.
M: Favorite food?
CC: Tough one. I’ve actually become a fan of seafood lately.
M: Seafood? Anything in particular?
CC: Well I've been shopping around for the best fried Fish in Indy (please someone give me recommendations) but probably the most enjoyable thing I've had lately is Bluegill.
M: Favorite article of clothing?
CC: I’m going to have to go with the signature beanie.
M: Do you have any tattoos?
CC: Not yet, at least.
M: Favorite weather or time of year?
CC: I’m definitely a fall person.
M: Are you a sports guy?
CC: I’m not big into watching a lot of sports. Hockey fights are pretty cool though.
M: Coffee or tea?
CC: Coffee. I drink a lot of tea when I’m sick, but there’s something about the aroma of coffee that gets me thinking a lot.
M: Cat or dog?
CC: Certainly a dog person. They’re just goofy and a lot of fun.
M: What are some hobbies or interests of yours?
CC: Well, reading and writing certainly hit the top of the list. I also enjoy a good video game every now and then. I try to watch TV when I can, but I rarely have the free time for it.
M: What do you do to relax?
CC: The best way for me to unwind is just to escape to a quiet place and be alone with my thoughts, either in writing or reading.
M: Dream vacation?
CC: Backpacking across Europe. There’s just so much history and so much to see there, and something about doing it all with next to nothing on your back is weirdly idyllic.
M: If you weren’t in theatre what would you do?
CC: This may not count – since it’s pretty cross-compatible – but I would probably focus more on film work, particularly video editing.
M: Who is a favorite author/playwright/poet/screenwriter?
CC: Oh, geez. Where do I begin with this one? Author? Kurt Vonnegut because of his poignant, humorous, and often times scathing views of the world and particularly American culture. 'Breakfast of Champions' will always have a place on my shelf. Playwright? This one will have to go to Daniel McIvor. He just has a really compelling way of telling vastly complex stories with grand ideas and tons of layers in a simple and straight-forward way. It’s really magnificent really. Poetry I don’t read a lot of, and I’ve tried. As for screen-writer, I’ve really become obsessed with Taylor Sheridan lately. He wrote the film 'Sicario' and wrote/directed the film 'Wind River' (the most unappreciated film of 2017). Sheridan really likes to explore hard realities and cold truths, and that’s what makes him so amazing in a time where artists constantly seem to praise watered down work.
M: Do you have a favorite actor or director?
CC: Another big one. There is something really amazing about the quiet intensity Ryan Gosling brings to all of his roles. 'Drive' will forever be one of my favorite films. Sam Rockwell was under-appreciated for a long, long time, but I think 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' has finally gotten him the main-stream attention he deserves.
M: Who is a hero or inspiration of yours?
CC: I’m going to bring this back to Kurt Vonnegut. He was someone who saw a lot of horrible things, as he talks about in 'Slaughter-house Five', and he was someone who struggled a lot with depression. And his ability to take those moments and those feelings and twist them into the humorous and uplifting stories he wrote is what is really endearing about him.
M: What do you admire in people?
CC: I admire people with a strong sense of integrity. I’m not a fan of wishy-washy “let’s meet in the middle” people. If you have the right convictions and the desire to stick to them, you’re an admirable person in my book.
M: What do you despise in people?
CC: Recently, I’ve grown very tired of this notion of pandering to everyone. I really hate this idea that every point of view, opinion, or thought is somehow valid just because someone thought it. If you can’t back up what you say with resounding logic or evidence, I really don’t want to hear anything you have to say.
M: What charms you in a person?
CC: A dark sense of humor.
M: Where are you from?
CC: I’m from a little town called Tipton, about thirty minutes north of Indy.
M: What was it like growing up there, can you describe how it affected your worldview?
CC: It was a small farm town, so I inherently clashed with a lot of the people around me. I think that’s what drove me to reading and watching so many films. That also probably had a huge effect on my worldview and how I shaped my values.
M: When did you develop an interest in theatre?
CC: It developed later on in high school, junior year in fact. I originally showed up for drama club to meet girls (classy, I know) but what I found instead was something I would dedicate the rest of my life to.
M: When did you know this is what you wanted to do?
CC: I saw a musical production of The Secret Garden at Taylor University that same year in high school, and everything about it was endearing to me. Not so much the singing, but the rotating stage and the lights and the passion of the actors. It was everything I had been looking for.
M: You went to college and studied theatre. Why Indiana State University? Were you comfortable in your pursuit of this degree?
CC: I chose ISU really because it was the only thing I could afford. There’s not really anything romanticized about it. However, I really fell in love with our department (at least, for the most part). Chris Berchild and Michael Jackson not only shaped my skillset and knowledge of theatre, but they frequently taught me how to better myself personally and hold myself accountable, even if those lessons were offhanded and unintentional. ISU also really developed my appreciation for technical theatre, particularly my interest in projection design.
M: How do you feel about it now that you’re in the field?
CC: I think my experiences and interest would be very different if it weren’t for Berch and Michael. I would probably just be a starving actor who wrote existential, high-minded nonsense.
M: What was your favorite class?
CC: I think my favorite class was Dramaturgy with Berch. Not only did I discover some of my favorite plays in that class, but I also really learned how to look at a script on a finite level. I think that’s a value that we talk about a lot in theatre but rarely implement. We get so caught up in what we want to do, we often forget what the script actually is.
M: Were there any specific instances you can recall that affirmed your beliefs? Challenged them? Changed you?
CC: Not particularly. My views and beliefs were kind of shaped by my own hands-on activity with theatre. My perspective was really shaped by my own experimentation.
M: What are the stories you gravitate to?
CC: I am really interested in stories that kind of bring to light the darker aspects of life. The play Never Swim Alone by Daniel MacIvor is a perfect example. On the surface you have a light-hearted play about two men competing, and it quickly devolves into how toxic masculine competition can be and how fundamentally flawed they are. That’s what I’m all about. Bringing out and understanding what is wrong with all of us.
M: What about these stories do you connect to?
CC: I mean, it’s simply the human condition. The best plays, to me, really make me understand more about life and humanity. I always want my worldview to be challenged and have my horizons broadened. It’s kind of like growing pains. It hurts in the moment, but I’m taller and able to see more from the experience.
M: What do you like or want want to see as an audience member?
CC: I really like to be shocked, however that is. Whether it’s violence or just some unhinged story, I really like not being able to predict the flow of a story.
M: What role do you believe theatre plays in today’s world? Where does it fit in society?
CC: Well, theatre as it stands has little to no impact I feel, and that’s the problem. I think theatre people have gotten so caught up in themselves that they’ve isolated themselves from common audiences. And that’s something really disappointing, because theatre is the most moving art form I can think of.
M: What makes American audiences different? What about the midwest?
CC: America is kind of the end all be all of the film industry, so it makes sense why film is so popular here. As far as I understand, the theatre scene is still pretty strong in Europe. Now, where there are audiences in the US, I certainly think there is a different culture. New York is for high-minded theatre people or purely commercial theatre. The midwest – and Indiana, I think – their sentiment towards entertainment is the same as their sentiment toward life. They’re looking for honesty. Not even something they agree with, just honesty. That’s why you see a lot of pandering artists fail in this region, because there is no real integrity to what they are doing.
M: What sort of person is going to love the stories you tell?
CC: Well, I always try to do work I would actively see myself. So the type of person is someone who is looking for something challenging, maybe a tinge abstract, and just prepared to be “assaulted” by what they see.
M: What sort of person needs to experience your work?
CC: I don’t really like the term universal, but I feel the plays I’m interested in doing apply to everyone, at least to some capacity. That doesn’t mean I’m appealing to the lowest common denominator, but the work I do tries to address life on a broad spectrum. I think anyone should be able to walk away from any play and learn something.
M: How does this upcoming production of Hers is the Head of a Wolf reflect your philosophy?
CC: Well Wolf is the epitome of everything I love about theatre (and not just because I love Maverick). It is aggressive and straight-forward in its themes, it pulls no punches, and challenges the audience to think about the serious repercussions of sexual assault and rape culture.
M: Do you think it is easier to take part in a play closer to your experience?
CC: Well, yes and no. It’s certainly easier to be excited about work you can relate to, but I also feel like there is a certain amount of objectivity to art. Yes, everyone has their own styles, but there is a critical and analytical way to approach everything. If the play has a certain theme, gives off a certain mood, and innately has a specific style, then there are only so many artistic interpretations you can make. Art is both having your own ideas and executing them correctly.
M: What is it about the live theatre that draws you in?
CC: As an audience member there is something so intimate about theatre. Films are great to see but there is just something so revealing about seeing a live person on stage. I always feel like I’m seeing something I shouldn’t.
M: Who's going to blow people away in Wolf?
CC: Raven is definitely one of those people who have been overlooked since I’ve known her. I’m glad she is finally getting the chance to really sink her teeth into something challenging.
M: To date, what has been your most gratifying experience in theatre?
CC: Definitely directing Never Swim Alone. I poured everything I had into that show, and I think it really showed. There were some amateur mistakes of course, but on the whole we really created a powerful show that I think really blew people’s socks off.
M: What is so important about that play?
CC: It really has a strong statement about masculinity, and the play doesn’t shy away from what it is or what it’s about. It very much embraces what it is, both in its nonsensical structure and hard-hitting themes.
M: A hundred years from now, what would you like to be remembered for?
CC: Really, I just want to be remembered as someone who was passionate about what he did, and as someone who actively sought to create change through powerful art.
Now you know Caleb! You can meet him in person at the 2018 IndyFringe Festival in the Indy Eleven Stage! Subscribe to Monument to stay up to date on all of our audition notices, show information, and blog postings!