Theatre graduates joining American Shakespeare Center

Spring 2016 MFA degree candidates to start professional careers at prestigious company

Joshua Clark
Joshua Clark
Joshua Clark
Constance Swain

Joshua Clark and Constance Swain both give the same response when asked why they decided to attend UH to earn their MFA degrees in Theatre.

“Jack Young.”

That decision to train with Young, head of the Professional Actor Training Program at UH, has now paid off. Both have accepted positions with the American Shakespeare Center after they graduate this month.

Young invited the artistic director of the ASC to come and audition his students earlier this year, and both Clark and Swain received offers to join the cast.

ASC is located in Stauton, VA. Swain and Clark will perform on the company’s main stage at the Black Friars Theatre, as well as go on tour, performing Shakespeare’s plays across the United States.

Moving across country together will allow Clark and Swain to continue the working relationship they started as classmates at UH.

“Josh and I worked together during a workshop Jack Young conducted for the Houston Ballet company,” says Swain. “Last month we were given the opportunity to perform a rapier and dagger scene together at an arts gala.”

Both actors should feel comfortable stepping into their new positions with the ASC. They each have prior experience performing Shakespeare. Swain had a role in the UH production of King Lear and Clark was a cast member in Macbeth as part of the Houston Shakespeare Festival. Prior to that, he had a role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan – Flint.

“I performed Puck in that show,” he says. “If I hadn’t been a part of that production I don’t know if I would’ve wanted to pursue classical acting training in the way that I have in grad school.”

Originally from Flint, Michigan, Clark stayed close to home to earn his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in performance. As he auditioned for various graduate programs across the country, he felt that UH was the right place for him to continue his education.

“During the audition process, Jack Young was tenacious, unapologetic, and brutally honest in his feedback - and it excited me. Out of all the programs I auditioned for, UH was the only callback that I felt challenged me and really attempted to see how many different connections I could make,” says Clark.

Swain was born and raised in Houston, but attended Spelman College in Atlanta to earn her undergraduate degree. She also auditioned for Jack Young as she considered graduate programs.

“From the moment I walked into the room I knew there was something special about his program. I knew I needed to be in that room,” she recalls.

“Constance and Joshua share a bright curiosity that sustains their drive in rehearsals to test possibilities and push boundaries to discover a wider range of Truth.  All of these aspects are exactly what American Shakespeare Center demands from their company members.  We're proud that they're taking the UH flag out with them,” says Young.

Clark is looking forward to touring the country, because he would like to visit as many cities as he can.

“Along with theatre, I would like to continue making music when I am not on stage. I’ve been a rapper for over a decade, which I had to push aside during training, but once I’ve graduated I hope to get back to writing and production,” he says.

Swain says, “It's a goal of mine to work both on the stage and on the screen. I hope to do work that is timeless and life changing. I'd also like to get involved in more humanitarian work.”

- By Monica Byars