Sumerak Brings Puppetry, Tech to Theatre Department

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Taking over as chairman of the Theatre Arts Department, Scott Sumerak had a “busy, very busy” first day.

“Trying to find out where everything is, meet new students and get ready with the new program” kept Sumerak so occupied, he said.

A “freelance actor/director/scenic designer” according to his website, Sumerak looks forward to working in a high school. “I’m used to working with younger students during the school day,” he said, “so this was really exciting, to see how much more I can do.”

Sumerak was hired because theatre teachers Erik Johnson and former Chairwoman Christine McBurney decided to go part-time. McBurney co-founded Mamaí Theatre Company at Ensemble Theatre last year with local theatre artists Bernadette Clemens, Wendy Kriss and Derdriu Ring. She is the company’s co-artistic director and producer; Johnson was the photographer for its inaugural season.

Coming from Chicago, Sumerak has new skills he wants to teach students. “I’m introducing some of the things that I have a background in, like some more technical theatre and some puppetry throughout the year,” he said. “We’re going to start off with some small changes but stick very close to tradition at the beginning of the year and as things evolve, so will the program.”

In addition to puppetry and technical theatre, which includes lighting, sound and scenic design, Sumerak brings some expertise in video game design. Sumerak was a motion-capture actor in the game F.E.A.R. 3.

“I thought the game was really awesome,” said senior Cedric Maye, a fan of F.E.A.R. 3, “so I was, like, that’s actually really cool; now I have some questions for him.” Maye, a student in the Playwriting and Senior Ensemble classes, thinks Sumerak is a good fit for Shaker’s Theatre Arts Department. “He brings something new, which I’m interested in seeing,” he said. “I feel like he’s going to fill the role incredibly.”

Sumerak “talked about his major background in musicals and that really interested me,” Maye said. However, Sumerak refused to mention any details about this year’s fall musical.

“Not at this point,” Sumerak said.

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