Inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame, August 16, 2004.
It is my pleasure to introduce to you tonight, Dr Robert W. MacClennan. I met Mac over 30 years ago while he was finishing his doctorate at Bowling Green. He had just directed The Fantasticks with a hell of a cast including a very young Scott Stoney as Matt. I can see it, shining somewhere. . . Mac was the graduate assistant for my Advanced Directing class, he attended my rehearsals, advised my combat. A big guy, nice guy, but someone I never expected to ever run into again after college.
When I moved to Dayton in 1975, I was surprised to find Mac, already two years into a 26-year career, creating a theatre department from nothing. Mac was the theatre department. He directed, he acted, he painted, he sold tickets; he was not afraid to get his hands dirty. If it needed to be done, he was doing it and doing it right.
Almost immediately, he began the long list of guest artists, director Roger Gross, Arthur Lithgow, Rajmund Klechot, teaching European Mime and directing the show that would eventually take Sinclair to Washington DC, Roula Jullien. Many local guest artists, Jo Goenner, Cheryl Williams, Bob Hetherington, Scott, myself. He created a guest artist position on the faculty to insure that students were taught by working professionals.
He made Sinclair a part of the community: Active in the Greek festival to provide scenes from Greek drama, a founding board member for the Muse Machine to whom he provided the theatre for rehearsals, Regional Site Coordinator for the Ohio Theatre Alliance High School Competition, Regional Festival Host for the Ohio Thespians. He always opened the Sinclair doors to his friends as he did for Kevin and Scott and I as Illumination Theatre where we presented To Kill A Mockingbird, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Working. Sidebar: Many thanks as well to the Dayton Playhouse and Dayton Theatre Guild for also opening your doors to us as well. It is a kindness not forgotten.
Moreover, he made sure the world knew and respected Sinclair. In his relentless pursuit of The American College Theatre Festival he made sure his students were there en masse, paying their registrations, making sure they attended shows and seminars. He served on the regional board, demanding that two-year schools be represented at all levels. The result, Sinclair is only the second two-year program to be invited to participate at the national level with The Overcoat in 1996. In 1997, Mac was awarded the ACTF Kennedy Center Gold Medallion in recognition of his outstanding work in theatre arts education.
His heart is in the classics. He loves Shakespeare. He loves the Greeks. He loves George Abbot. He believes in a solid foundation. His History of the Theatre class, the toughest of any Sinclair class to pass, was legendary. (How many times did you take it?) I was constantly amazed that he barely made it into the 20th century by the third quarter. He taught with love and respect for the art and with love and respect for the students.
He believes that there is no reason a two-year program can not reach the same standards as a four-year program if the students are exposed to artists that demand that they reach outside of their comfort zone.
Mac loved his students. His soul soared with their every success; he wept for their failures. Many cowered under the sheer volume of his presence and the force of his personality. He would redress them when they needed it, not because it made him feel good or powerful, but only to challenge them, to raise the bar, to not let them slide back down the hill they were climbing.
Please, if you took a theatre class at Sinclair while Mac chaired the department, will you rise. If you acted in a show at Sinclair, will you rise. If you taught or directed or designed or was otherwise paid by Sinclair Theatre, will you rise.
This is your legacy. Mac. Look around you at some of the students, the teachers, the artists and actors who passed through Sinclair during your tenure. They have appeared on every stage with every organization in the area. They are better for having known you. You have truly made Sinclair Community College the Crossroads of the Arts in the Miami Valley.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Professor Emeritus Dr. Robert W MacClennan.
--Marsha Hanna, Artistic Director
The Human Race Theatre Company