McClure creates mixed media theater

by Ashley Ulrich | 5/21/14 6:33pm

Though Marina McClure ’04 came to Dartmouth planning to pursue a math major, she quickly became interested in theater, specifically directing. An original collaborator for WiRED and member of the Displaced Theater Company, McClure is currently directing experimental theater and creating mixed performance and visual arts pieces in New York.

How were you involved in the arts at Dartmouth?

MM: I majored in theater and was involved in a variety of projects that were student-driven, and I was also involved in main stage projects. I started off thinking I’d want to be an actor. My sophomore year I started to direct, and by senior year, I’d moved away from performing. [Theater professor] Mara Sabinson looked me in the eye at one point and said, “You are a director.” In a very useful way, she was dead-on. I directed a myriad of works, short and long.

How did Dartmouth help you get your start as a professional artist?

MM: In the last couple years I’ve been up [at Dartmouth] more frequently, directing Talene Monahon [’13]’s senior fellowship project. We will present it at the Peterborough Players in the fall. I also directed last year’s [Frost Playwriting Festival] plays by Aaluk Edwardson ’12 and Mike McDavid ’15. I’ve also been back for VoxFest and will be back this summer for VoxFest.

What are you currently working on?

MM: I’m working with playwright Aleshea Harris, who just finished her MFA this year, to direct her play “Road Kill Giant” for its debut production. We did a reading [in January] at the American [Conservatory Theater’s Black Box Space], and we’ll bring it to VoxFest for a second workshop. We want to premiere it this fall in L.A.

I’m in the middle of a multiyear process for an episodic, interactive and immersive deconstruction of “Hamlet.” I’ve collaborated with Keith Skretch and worked on it for a couple years now. I’m also working on a new play by a New York playwright Sara Farrington. She’s working with Edith Wharton novels as source material and exploring the old New York, looking at how relationships function, especially marriage.

I’m also working on a couple of pieces that integrate performance and visual arts. I studied interactivity and performative media at the California Institute of the Arts during my MFA, and I’m starting to work and create some multimedia performance pieces that will be presented in some store fronts in the late summer and early fall.

How did you get your start in theater after graduation?

MM: I moved to New York right after graduation, and I really didn’t know how to navigate the arts scene. I started a theater company that first year out which was ensemble based and was really trying to allow myself and colleagues from The National Theater Institute, some of them Dartmouth students, to collaborate. It was called Odyssey Productions. I learned a lot about producing and how to interact with this arts landscape.

I did that from 2004-07, then Thom Pasculli ’05 and I created The Savannah Theater project, which received a fellowship through the Dean of the Faculty. We created a three-day symposium in South Africa, toured shows and did workshops there. That was really transformative for me. The intersection of geography, nationality and a sense of place in much of my work is grounded in an exploration of identity.

What would you like to do in the future?

MM: I’m working with some longtime collaborators on some bigger ideas like a new think tank for the arts. We’re not sure what that means, but maybe opening a new space in New York that can support artists working in these hybrid ways.

How have recent changes to technology and media impacted your work?

MM: Our contemporary relationship to digital technology is always coming into a work, and I’m always considering what the relationship is there. In the “Hamlet” piece, I’m working with an app for the audience that will function as part of the experience the piece. Characters will have different technology to interact with each other and the audience, as well as interacting in the analog, the physical presence.

This interview has been edited and condensed. For the full interview, see