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Take a bow, Sandy
When the final curtain goes down at the end of the April 13 evening performance of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, it will be the end of an era for the performing arts at SCCC. That's when Sandy Boynton, Professor in the Division of Liberal Arts, will take her final bow as the director of the SCCC Players, after 23 years at the College. She plans to retire in August 2013. She is shown at above with Michael Bancroft, Phillip Beattie and Vicky Cernik, members of the SCCC Players.
Ask her how she's doing as you pass her in the hallways of Elston Hall or the Stockade Building on her way to the Taylor Auditorium and her response is usually "medium rare." This week she's been sewing costumes for the cast, getting Oberon to bond with his fairies and leading cast members from a variety of majors and backgrounds through long rehearsals. And though she hasn't had that much time to think about the past saying, "If you stop to think too much you get nostalgic; and it's not about me, it's about the show," she sat down with the Binnekill and began to reflect on her career.
Sandy started teaching English composition and Introduction to Literature classes in 1990 and within a year she was teaching Drama Classics, Theatre Workshop and Theatre and Rehearsal Production. Since then she's directed students in 45 shows, painstakingly looking for plays that will showcase her student actors and "open them up." "I choose something of a size that makes sense with a cast of about 12 to 16," she said. "I want the cast to be big enough for drama majors and casual students to take part. I look for evenly sized roles. We wouldn't do Hamlet where one person carries that show."
Modern works like the Laramie Project about the murder of Matthew Shepard and In Conflict which examines the effects of the Iraq War, have challenged her students and audiences alike. "I look for something on the cutting edge that can play to our audience," Sandy said. "I like to kind of push the intellectual and social envelope a little." Her philosophy has also been to "get the kids out of here." She has brought students to New York City to see shows, which over the years have included Tony Kushner's Angels in America and Margaret Edson's Wit, which she described as "gloriously beautiful" in terms of the play itself and the reactions of her students. In 2002, she began the Theatre in London course, leading students through a "transformational experience" touring the Globe Theatre and Shakespeare's burial place.
Since 2007, Sandy has spent her spring break vacations taking students to the American Shakespeare Center (ASC) in Staunton, Va., an intensive week of plays and workshops that culminated with the ASC actors clearing the Blackfriars Stage so that the students could rehearse there. She began the ASC visits after earning a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 2004 and studying with the ASC and in London. "I have always said I don't want to just tell the students about my version of what I learned," Sandy explained. "I want to take them to the source."
Sandy's commitment to her students and craft have been recognized through various awards including the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2009 and the Words in Action Award from the ASC in 2012.
As for retirement, she intends to check two things off her bucket list by going to see James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave in the London production of Much Ado About Nothing and then Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen on Broadway in Waiting for Godot. She'll then weigh her options about directing local theater productions.
For more information, please contact the SCCC Public Relations Office at 518-381-1250.
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