by Lorie Lewis Ham
The Selma Arts Center will be presenting Cabaret starting on November 8 and local actor Meg Clark will be playing the role of Sally Bowles. Meg was born in Fresno but grew up in Reedley and Dinuba. We took a moment to chat with her about her life, acting, and about taking on this role.
KRL: What is your current day job?
Meg: Currently, I work as an Administrative Assistant in the Good Company Players Business office, and I substitute teach for Clovis Unified.
KRL: What local schools have you attended?
Meg: I graduated from Reedley High School and then went on to get a BA in History with a minor in Dramaturgy from Fresno Pacific University.
KRL: When did you first get involved in acting and why and what was your first part?
Meg: I’ve been acting since I was eight years old. (My first show was at 2nd Space in the 2005 production of Our Town–I played Rebecca. It’s pretty cool that I now work in the office with Dan, Laurie, and Emily Pessano, who were all a part of that production.) I’ve always loved being onstage and performing, and luckily my mom was happy to drive me to Fresno every night to do a show because she knew I needed that outlet.
KRL: What are some of the shows you have been in, and the parts you have played & with what companies?
Meg: I grew up doing shows at the Reedley Opera House, and also did a few shows in high school at RHS–Annie, West Side Story, and Grease. Some of my favorite performing experiences of my adult life have been: Little Womenat Fresno Pacific, where I played Jo, My Fair Lady at GCP where I got to understudy Eliza–a dream role of mine, Spring Awakening with Selma Arts Center, and The Fantasticks (Luisa) and Urinetown (Hope) with Stageworks Fresno.
KRL: Do you have a favorite type of show?
Meg: I wouldn’t say I have a favorite “type” of show. My favorite shows are ones that really communicate something special and important to the audience. Sometimes that’s done in a happier show, and sometimes it’s really heavy. But when you’re in a show and both the cast and the audience are both feeling something deeply important together about the human experience–that’s the magic of theatre. That’s the feeling I’m chasing whenever I’m participating in a production.
KRL: What do you like best about acting/singing/dancing?
Meg: One of my favorite things about performing is that it is when I feel most truly myself–there is something about being onstage and putting it all out there that feels like home to me. For me, singing and acting especially are things I find deeply personal. Even though I’m out there playing someone else, I’m putting so much of my own heart into it that sharing it with a room full of people is really liberating. I love how actors can bring a room of complete strangers to laugh, cry, and think together. In how many other settings does that sense of togetherness happen anymore?
KRL: What is the hardest?
Meg: For me, the hardest thing about performing is getting over myself. I am really my own worst critic, and that sense of self-doubt and insecurity can often hold me back from doing what I love most to the fullest.
KRL: Future goals and dreams?
Meg: I’m still figuring out what the future holds for me, but I would love to be able to get to perform professionally. I’m looking at taking a break from local theatre for a while to explore some other opportunities in the near future.
KRL: What do you feel has helped you the most in growing as an actor/singer?
Meg: I feel like the thing that has helped me grow the most as a performer was deciding to be willing to step out of my comfort zone and take risks, and not let fear hold me back.
KRL: What advice would you have for someone wanting to get into acting?
Meg: My advice for someone just getting into performing would be to just focus on what is honest and what you bring to the table that no one else can. It’s so easy to focus on who’s more talented, who’s more experienced, who’s more attractive than you are–but that really is all immaterial. No one can bring your unique voice and perspective to the room unless you do. I would also say that the best thing any of us can do, whether we’re just getting started or been acting for years, is to be willing to learn and to listen. There’s always room to grow and learn in any situation.
KRL: Any funny and/or inspirational stories to share?
Meg: On opening night of My Fair Lady, I was so excited and nervous for my first show back at GCP since I was a kid. I went extra hard on the choreography for one of the big dance numbers and fell right on my behind. It was so embarrassing!
KRL: What is your dream role?
Meg: I don’t have one specific dream role. It’s super cheesy, but I honestly usually feel that most roles I get to play are a dream come true in that moment. All that being said, it’s a dream of mine to get to be in My Fair Lady again. It’s my mom’s favorite musical, so there’s a lot of sentimental value in it, and I’d like the chance to play that role now that I’m older and feel I’d understand it better.
KRL: Is it hard balancing a job and doing shows?
Meg: It can be hard to balance work and shows. Obviously, the dream is that performing one day will be my only job. It would be awesome to get to only focus on performing, but it’s also really cool that almost every performer in the Valley is doing the same thing. It’s pretty special that so many people give up most of their free time for little to no pay just to make art. I think that says a lot about this community.
KRL: Any hobbies?
Meg: I really enjoy doing yoga, especially at Tower Yoga.
KRL: I understand that you are going to be in the upcoming Selma production of Cabaret-what role are you playing?
Meg: I’m playing Sally Bowles.
KRL: Is this a role you had always wanted to play?
Meg: It’s funny, I had never seen Cabaret and didn’t know much about it besides a few songs. I guess I just assumed it was a dance show and I don’t consider myself a strong dancer, so I didn’t initially think I’d be a good fit to audition for it. Then I finally did some more research and fell in love with the show and its powerful message. I still wasn’t sure I was right for the show, because I think Sally is a lot different from how most people see me as a performer. But luckily, friends encouraged me to go for it and audition and I’m so glad I did.
KRL: Is there any special preparation you are doing for this role?
Meg: Usually I don’t like watching other productions of a show when I’m working on it because I don’t want to copy them or get stuck in a particular mindset. But with Cabaret, and Sally Bowles especially, there is such a rich legacy of how it’s been played in the past, from the movie to the revivals–and there’s so many different interpretations and expectations on how it’s done. I watched a lot of videos of Broadway productions, the 1972 movie, and even went and saw a stage production in San Francisco, because I really wanted to understand the context and what has been done with this show leading up to this moment. Sally is an incredibly complex character, so I’ve really spent a lot of time understanding her headspace and motivations, especially through journaling. And then, of course, there’s the physical preparation. Like I said, I do not consider myself an adept dancer, so the dance conditioning and intensive choreography rehearsals have been challenging for me, but also really rewarding and helpful in understanding the role.
KRL: What are you liking best about this role and what has been the hardest?
Meg: This is definitely the most challenging acting role I’ve ever done. It’s been difficult emotionally at times, but it’s also been incredibly therapeutic. I have really fallen in love with this character–she’s so dynamic and free-spirited but also deeply tragic and ultimately, delusional. I’ve felt a lot of pressure just because there is such a high expectation of how this role should be done and I really do want to do it justice. But I’m loving the process and am so excited and honored to be able to bring this story to life along such an incredible cast and crew. My favorite thing about this production is how supportive and hardworking the cast is. With a show this heavy and intimate, it has been so inspiring to see the ways we have all stepped up to support one another. Michael C. Flores, our director, has done an incredible job bringing this show to life, and I can’t wait for people to see it.
You can see Meg in Cabaret at the Selma Arts Center, 1935 High St., Selma, CA. It is on stage from November 8-23. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at (559) 891-2238. You can also purchase them at the door, but it is always wiser to purchase them ahead. Watch for KRL’s review of the show!
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts Spotify, and Google Play, and also on podbean.
Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.