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Photo+of+Hack+by+John+Lamb.
Photo of Hack by John Lamb.

Photo of Hack by John Lamb.

Photo of Hack by John Lamb.

When Sam Hack steps into the spotlight, it is not just as a popular substitute teacher at Clayton High School.

Hack has been invested in the world of theatre since he was a little boy.

“I was nine years old when my parents chose to buy very cheap season tickets to the Muny,” Hack said. “As I spent many Saturday nights there, I fell in love with live theatre.”

Hack continued through high school at University City with very low self esteem, unsure of how to pursue the passion he had acquired as a child.

However, one teacher noticed Hack’s unique talent and interest in the field and eventually pushed and persuaded him to follow his dreams.

“She helped me discover my passion and ability to write,” Hack said. “Her method was mostly to let us write about whatever we were interested in, rather than give us assignments. I was always writing about theatre. At one point, as she was signing my yearbook, she said, ‘I look forward to reading your stuff in the New York Times’, and I thought, well, that’s an idea. How does one get to do that?”

Hack continued to pursue the possible career as a theatre critic during his time studying

at University of Missouri St. Louis, but soon became interested in the world of directing.

“At UMSL, I started with directing a play for a fellow student who had lost his leg in motorcycle accident. We students wanted to get together and do something for him, so we put on a production of Don Juan in Hell and I directed it, just because I was around,” Hack said.

Hack then discovered his love of theatre not just as an audience member, but as an actor and a director.

“I get most passionate and excited when I’m directing a play,” Hack said. “I enjoy acting, it’s incredibly fun, but directing is just something that feels right for me.”

Hack has since then worked on a vast number of plays and performances, including being a Director of the Clayton Community Theatre for the last several years.

“My mission as the director is to keep the artistic integrity of the group high,” Hack said. “I exercise some influence in play selection and production qualities in order to keep the production values high.”

Recently, the Clayton Community Theatre performed the play A View from the Bridge, a tale about a struggling family set in 1950’s Brooklyn, New York.

Hack (at desk) performing in A View From the Bridge. Photo by John Lamb.

A View from the Bridge was the first play I ever saw professionally acted on stage,” Hack said. “It was a really strong production and had a really big impact on me and became one of my favorite plays, so I had some influence in deciding ot this play [at the Clayton Community Theatre].”

Not only did Hack provide insight and experience in deciding to produce the play, but he also starred a leading role as Alfieri, a narrating lawyer who represents the “bridge” between two different cultures.

“I auditioned like anybody else and got casted as the role and I was really thrilled to be a part of that production,” Hack said. “It made my life a little more difficult because I was getting ready to direct the next play [at the Clayton Community Theatre] and at the same time trying to focus on acting in a play.”

On top of acting and directing, Hack’s passion for teaching has inspired generations of Clayton High School students.

“I think I’m proud that teachers trust me to ask them to sub for them and leave a lesson plan that involves teaching instead of just putting on a movie because they know I can handle it,” Hack said. “I love working at Clayton and feel proud to do so.”

For the future, Hack plans continuing his teaching, acting and directing.

“I don’t really think about the future that much. I’m directing another play next winter for Clayton Community Theatre. In regards to acting, I’ll see if an audition interests me as I go, but I’m old enough now that I’m okay with not always working,” Hack said. “But I do think I keep busier than a lot of people my age.”

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The Hack is Back