b'A Director is BornAt Vanguard, Janeece Freeman Clark envisions the dawn of a brighter worldBY TIA SWANSON(L) Vanguard Theater Educational Program - Childrens Letters to God. (R) Vanguard Theater Production of Into the Woods.A bout25yearsagoorso,aIt took a while, of course, for all the pieces toAnd so, in 2015, she returned to her original job superintendent of schools infall into place. First, she went to the University ofwhen she became the founding artistic director of Lansing, Michigan, institutedMichigan, where she majored in voice and theater,the Vanguard Theater Company, a professional, re-a few budget cutsand in- andminoredinpsychol-advertently created a musicalogy and education. Then she theater director. moved to New York City to Thewould-bedirector,be an actor, where she hit the Janeece Freeman Clark, was a high school student,bigstageandmetherhus-up until then content to shine onstage and let oth- bandwhileperformingin ers do the heavy lifting around creating a show. ButUrinetown(bothastoken when she found out that the annual high school mu- Black characters).sical was being slashed from the budget, she got toIwasworkingquitea work, coordinating bottle drives and car washes tobit.and I loved a lot of it, raise money, and eventually directing an entire show,Clark recalls now, [but] it felt including building sets from scratch and raiding par- like there was a missing piece ents closets for costumes. for me.I was put in special The resulting production of Godspell was such aboxes.I just got tired of it. [I success that the superintendent reinstated several ofrealized] the only way Im go-the programs hed cut. ing to change this is to get on And Clark found her lifes work. the other side of the table. Vanguard Theater Production of Spring Awakening, Spotlights Photography.20/ matters magazine / school 2023'