Giving voice to others
Sean Dale wore many hats during his time at Union College—literally. On and off stage, the recent communications/public relations graduate has been a leader in Union College’s theater program, UC Drama, for about five years. During that time, he’s been involved in seven shows, including directing a production of his own, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, in the fall of 2008.
At the beginning of the project, Dale didn’t really know where to start. “I was freaking out,” he said, “but Mark Robison gave me advice and I was able to tackle it.” Robison, professor of English and the head of UC Drama, has guided many student directors through their first shows, and Dale learned a lot about how to stage a show from Robison, including how to organize a group of actors. “Getting everyone to show up for rehearsals was the most difficult part, but in the end, it was very rewarding,” Dale said. “I almost cried at the standing ovation we got on opening night.”
Dale’s leadership in the program began well before his senior directorial project. From his first entrance as the doctor in UC Drama’s production of The Miracle Worker in Spring 2004, Dale added new twists to the Union's drama traditions. For instance, he brought new warmup techniques from his time in his high school drama club; he also brought new techniques for getting into character. Having several roles in UC Drama plays also put him in a position to bring continuity to the program. Many students may choose to act one semester and then not participate in UC Drama again; however, Dale became one of the core members of UC Drama. "Having students like Sean in the drama program ensures success," Robison said. "As he has learned theatre craft, he has passed on that knowledge to other students by modeling professionalism in preparing acting roles and displaying a strong work ethic. He inspires others to give their best."
During this past spring, Dale completed his final show as a Union College student, performing as Caliban in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. He enjoyed the experience because he’d never had a chance to work with a lengthy non-comedic role, much less "play the bad guy," an experience which Dale says stretched him as an actor. He appreciated the chance to delve into Shakespeare’s language and expand his repertoire to include the Bard. "Everyone in this show practiced such good teamwork and got along well together," Dale said. "It was a great last show." (To watch a streaming video of The Tempest performed by UC Drama, click here.)
Dale’s dream is to one day attend an Academy Awards show. He wants to keep theater and the arts somewhere in his life, possibly someday teaching and directing community theater. “It’s in me, I don’t want to let it go,” he said. “Acting is a form of creating. We get to evoke emotions, show people new perspectives.” He also relishes the ephemeral quality of theater, where teams work for months to build a show that finishes in just a few performances. “You wish it could go on forever,” he said, “but you are left with good memories, and great friends.”
UC Drama has been good training for Dale in his craft. "I've been priveleged to work with talented, experienced directors like Robison and Anthony Gilmore," he said. "And I've seen how to make thoughtful, crafted theater." He’s been taught how to listen on stage, and has become a confident actor. And he will continue. Although his last show as a student at Union College is over, Dale hopes to join the handful of alumni who have returned to be part of directorial teams at UC Drama.