Chris: It gave me a lot of confidence.
People gave me a lot of work. I made
good friends and connections, and it
helped me solidify my own aesthetic
and the kind of stuff I wanted to do.
I liked the way everyone worked, the
community; people had a lot of love
and respect for each other, and it was
a joyful time of working for me, working constantly and making friends and
making me feel like, this is what I do; I
can continue to do this.
Sarah Clare: Being in Buffalo
inspired me to realize that my career
didn’t have to be that traditional nine-to-five. That’s where I learned to put
together a career that’s flexible with
the lifestyle I wanted. Megan Callahan,
Paul Todaro, the way people put their
careers together—there was a drive to
make the art. Not everybody was rolling in dough, but people were making a choice about how they wanted to
live their lives. It was a model for me; I
wanted to do that, and I learned how to
do that in Buffalo. I wasn’t born into an
artists’ family; it was a Rust Belt family,
and you had a job to survive, but you
don’t necessarily get to choose. Right
before I got Chautauqua, I was working
on making my own business, Making
Spaces, and had just printed business
cards; I was ready to make a life like
Chris: I just remember one moment
in 2009 when theaters across the country weren’t doing so well, and I was
at this party with at least fifty people
and standing next to Gerry Maher, and
looking around and realizing, “
Everybody in this room is working right now.
It was just really wonderful.”
Sarah Clare: The community was
a game changer for us. We felt welcomed instantly and the networks and
the amount of people who were working consistently, even though they had
other jobs, I was like, “Wow, these people are doing three or four shows a year
along with another job. That doesn’t
happen in a lot of cities on such a constant basis, and they seem happy.” The
first show Chris did was a Curtain Up!
show, and what a wonderful way to be
introduced to a theater community! It
was really special.
Chris: Even after Studio Arena, it felt
to us like it was still a thriving area for
working, the idea of lifting up and creating. What Sarah Clare is trying to do is
create a little bit more of that feel here.
Playwright Donna Hoke had the privilege of having
Chris Corporandy play Vance in the first reading of The
Couple Next Door, and has never forgiven him
for moving before the play went to production.
actors, so normally on the syllabus, it
says teaching cockney, but I made sure
we’re teaching cockney and multicul-tural London English, which, ironically,
is spoken by younger white people, but
was initially a mix of cockney, Caribbean, and even African dialect, a more
contemporary working class accent.
So, coming back to Buffalo is out
of the question now?
Sarah Clare: We didn’t want to leave
Buffalo. I remember looking at Chris,
and saying, “When we’re in our eighties, we’re going to say, ‘remember that
brief time we were in Buffalo?’” It was
a magical time; we weren’t in a rush to
leave, but, for me, as an arts administrator, there were no jobs I felt like I
could make a career of. I wasn’t interested in teaching, so when I got that
Savannah job, I said yes to that opportunity.
Chris: We’ve always both been interested in whatever the universe gives us,
or a new part of the country, or a new
part of work.
Sarah Clare: Right before Detroit
happened, we were talking about if
we ever leave New York, where would
we go next? We made a list of cities,
some we’d lived in before and others we hadn’t. Buffalo was on that list,
and we looked for houses in the summer of 2014 when we were in Chautauqua, thinking maybe we’d invest and
then move there later, because I knew
I was going to be at Chautauqua for a
long time. Buffalo was never really off
What do you miss about Buffalo?
Chris: I miss being able to turn on
the local NPR and hear a show about
theater in Buffalo. Is that still on? [Not
only is it still on, but Theater Talk just
celebrated twenty-five years.]
Sarah Clare: We lived in Elmwood
Village, things were closer, you knew
what people were doing. There’s an
ease to Buffalo, and I love the working class feel, but also the history of it.
There’s also a lot of food that we miss.
Chris: There was always a light,
airy, breezy feeling to me, despite the
otherwise would-be heaviness of Rust
Belt city, something always just felt
floaty. I miss the feel of the city and the
warmth of the community. We have a
great community here, but I don’t think
I’ve ever gotten back to that constantly
being around the community en masse.
We always make sure to come down
and visit friends [while we’re in Chau-tauqua], and I did Master Builder, Neal
Wechsler’s adaptation, at Silo City.
What did you learn or do here that
you’ve taken with you and applied to
school with her at Wayne State. She
And, Chris, how has your career
said, “I’m going to start a theater com-
pany. Will you look at this budget
and business plan, and give me your
Most of the theaters in Detroit are
small, storefront theaters, and that was
one of the reasons I thought I would
never move back, because there wasn’t
one substantial enough for me to make
a career. They asked me to be on the
advisory board, and pretty quickly to
“move back and be our partner.” It
was so cool, and I was so honored, but
the thought of leaving New York hadn’t
crossed our minds; we’d worked so
hard to get back there. And immediate-
ly after I said no, I couldn’t stop think-
ing about it. I started introducing the
idea to Christopher, and it took a lot of
asking from them, and a lot of medita-
tion from us, but, after three months,
we knew were going to do it. We bought
a house in the city, and we are in the
middle of our third season.
continued to develop in Detroit?
Chris: A lot of us have this idea of
you have to be in New York or LA, and,
to be candid, a lot of my self-worth was
tied up in that. And it turns out it’s
not true. [My career] has changed, but
there’s a lot more space and time that
we have as a family and also to pursue
our interests. All of the moving around
and trying to feverishly climb that ladder, I really did get tired of that; I only
want to do work that I want to do, only
want to work with people that I want to
work with, in the way that I did in Buffalo. Over the past couple years, I realized how deeply interested I’ve always
been in accent work, and I’m actually
coaching nine productions this year.
Sarah Clare: What’s awesome is that
he worked for this catering company
in New York and a lot of people who
worked there were artists, and they
gave grants, and Chris got a grant to get
certified in dialect work [with Knight-Thompson Speechwork].
Chris: It was kind of in keeping
with Savannah: Savannah and catering
weren’t really moves toward my career,
but they both had a big impact on me
going forward with my career. One of
the things that I wrote in the grant proposal was that I wanted to be able to create accent resources for actors of color,
because the vast majority of accent
resources, particularly the ones used
in schools, are for white actors. And
that was a gross issue. I’ve been talking to people in the field, and learning
and gathering information to make sure
there is more balance. For instance, in
one grad class, there are four white
actors and four African-American