- Professor of Theatre
Professor Martin McClendon joined the Carthage faculty full-time in 2007 after one year as an adjunct professor. He received a B.F.A. in acting from Rockford College in 1991, and an M.F.A. in acting from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign in 1994. He teaches a variety of classes at Carthage, designs scenery, and directs productions. Carthage bestowed tenured status on Professor McClendon in 2012.
Prof. McClendon acted professionally in the midwest, Chicago, and Los Angeles for 11 years, earning membership in Actors Equity and SAG/AFTRA. Onstage credits include roles at Steppenwolf, Northlight, and Victory Gardens in Chicago. On-camera and voiceover work include appearances on “ER” and “Early Edition,” as well as pilots, independent films, and national ad campaigns.
Prof. McClendon has directed numerous productions at Carthage, ranging from experimental verbatim theatre pieces to large-scale musicals. Three of his productions have been honored with selection for production at the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival, Region 3 Festival: “A Seat at the Table” (2018), “Afghanistan/Wisconsin” (2017), and “The Rail Splitter” (2012). He has received a KC/ACTF national award as Distinguished Director of a New Work (“Afghanistan/Wisconsin”), as well as a KC/ACTF regional Certificate of Merit for Direction (“Boeing Boeing”). Additionally, “A Seat at the Table” was honored with a KC/ACTF Citizen Artist Award in 2018 for “productions and companies that insist that theatrical production is central to the urgent community, national and international conversations on the campuses of higher education nationwide.”
He has also pursued scenic carpentry, painting, and scenic design throughout his career. Prof. McClendon’s designs for Chicago-based Defiant Theatre (of which he was a company member) received three non-Equity Jeff Citation Nominations. He worked as a furniture maker and carpenter in Los Angeles, specializing in Arts and Crafts style pieces. In 2013, he was honored to contribute an article to Fine Woodworking magazine, on the furniture style of famous California designers Charles and Henry Greene.
Prof. McClendon has received Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival national commendations for scenic design (“Up and Away,” “Man of La Mancha,” “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” and “One Day in the Season of Rain”), collaborative video and image routing (“The Breath of Stars”), and lighting design (“Ghost Bike”), as well as a regional Certificate of Merit for scenic design (“Boeing Boeing”, “A Doll’s House Part 2”) and puppetry (“Into the Woods”).
Prof. McClendon continues to design scenery professionally. Recent credits include “Unnecessary Farce” at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, and multiple shows at First Stage Children’s Theatre in Milwaukee. Credits there: “Diary of a Worm, Spider, and Fly,” “Nancy Drew and Her Biggest Case Ever, (world premiere)” “Stargirl,” “Goosebumps the Musical” (world premiere), “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Locomotion,” and “A Wrinkle In Time.” He has also worked with Artist’s Ensemble Theatre in Rockford, IL, most recently designing “Fox on the Fairway.”
Prof. McClendon’s recent research and academic practice has revolved around giving voice to unheard stories through verbatim theatre, by gathering testimony from real people and using it to craft plays in response to community issues. From 2015-2019, Prof. McClendon collaborated with student playwrights and researchers highlighting and encouraging dialogue about the veteran experience through verbatim theatre projects and community arts events, starting with “Afghanistan/Wisconsin.” Working with student writer Laurel McKenzie, twelve veterans were interviewed as a summer research project, from which Ms. McKenzie created the script, which Prof. McClendon directed. “Afghanistan/Wisconsin” was remounted at the KC/ACTF Region 3 festival in 2017.
Prof. McClendon was granted a sabbatical in 2019 in order to create “Fighting For Home,” a verbatim play about the struggles of female service members, in collaboration with Dr. Becki Hornung of Carthage’s Social Work Department, and Marcella Kearns, guest director from Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. The production received a KC/ACTF Certificate of Merit for citizen artistry.
Recent projects include “Frontline,” written with the seven students of the Verbatim Theatre Techniques class in J-Term of 2022, illuminating the stories of frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic. “Frontline” received a full production in October 2022, made possible through collaboration with the Nursing Department and the Saemann Foundation. The show was cast entirely with Carthage Theatre alumni.
Prof. McClendon collaborated with Prof. Nora Carroll and students Rayven Craft ’23 and Katie Layendecker ’25 to create “The Kenosha Verbatim Project” which received its premiere on May 20, 2023. Based on interviews with twelve people about the unrest in Kenosha following the shooting of Jacob Blake in 2020, “KVP” was included in the “World Premiere Wisconsin” initiative and featured a cast of alumni and community-based actors.
Martin was honored to receive the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Innovative Teaching Award for 2016-17 for his work with students in developing veteran theatre projects. He is also the co-founder, with David Chrisinger and Lawrence Gums, of Carthage’s annual Veteran Night of the Arts, held every November from 2016-2019 as a fundraiser for Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin. He is the 2016 recipient of the Carthage Quality of Life Enhancement Award for his work to raise awareness of veteran issues on campus.
- M.F.A. — University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, 1994
- B.F.A. — Rockford College, 1991
- THR 0300 Applied Acting and Directing
- THR 1110 Introduction to Acting
- THR 2010 Oral Interpretation of Literature
- THR 2110 Acting I: Fundamentals of Acting
- THR 2600 Theatrical Drafting Techniques
- THR 2910 Play Production I: Stagecrafts
- THR 2930 Play Production III: Stage and Lighting
- THR 2940 Play Production IV: Scenic Painting
- THR 3020 Verbatim Theatre Techniques
- THR 3100 Voice for the Stage
- THR 3110 Acting II: Character and Scene Study
- THR 3600 History of Scenic Design
- THR 4600 Scenic Design
Prof. McClendon’s recent research and academic practice has revolved around giving voice to unheard stories through verbatim theatre, by gathering testimony from real people and using it to craft plays in response to community issues. Starting in 2016 with the play Afghanistan/Wisconsin, he and several dedicated students have explored performance and outreach as ways to foster dialogue between veterans and non-veterans. Along with veteran student coordinator Lawrence Gums and UW Stevens Point veteran transition expert David Chrisinger, Professor McClendon has produced the yearly “Veteran Night of the Arts” to highlight artistic responses to veteran experience. He was granted a sabbatical in 2019 in order to create “Fighting For Home,” a verbatim play about the struggles of female service members, in collaboration with Dr. Becki Hornung of Carthage’s Social Work Department, and Marcella Kearns, guest director from Milwaukee Chamber Theatre. The production received a KC/ACTF Certificate of Merit for citizen artistry. More recently, he has collaborated with students and fellow faculty to create plays highlighting frontline healthcare workers during the pandemic and community members reflecting on the unrest in Kenosha following the shooting of Jacob Blake in 2020.
Fall 2022: Saemann Foundation Grant: helped to prepare grant proposal submitted by Katharine Keenan and Nancy Reese to launch an Interprofessional Health Education initiative. $10,000 of the grant is earmarked to stage a live production of “Frontline,” Carthage’s original play about COVID told through the eyes of frontline healthcare workers.
Summer 2022: Awarded a SURE grant for summer research on verbatim theatre with Prof. Nora Carroll and students Rayven Craft ’25 and Katie Layendecker ’23.
2019: William E. Dean Charitable Foundation Grant: helped to prepare grant proposal submitted by Dean Corinne Ness, Kate Schenk, and Carolynn Friesch, to fund a Green Zone Training program. Worked with Dr. Becki Hornung to create a series of Green Zone training videos for faculty and staff.
2017: Association for Theatre in Higher Education: Innovative Teaching Award, awarded in recognition of work with veteran students in theatre.
2016: Carthage Quality of Life Enhancement Award: in recognition of raising awareness of veteran’s issues on campus.
Summer 2014: Awarded a SURE grant for summer research on verbatim theatre with student Laurel McKenzie ’16.
KC/ACTF American College Theatre Festival:
- Spring 2020: Certificate of Merit for Citizen Artistry for the company of Fighting For Home
- Spring 2019: National Selection Committee Award for Distinguished Achievement in Scenic Design, Up And Away
- Spring 2019: Certificate of Merit for Scenic Design, A Doll’s House Part 2
- Spring 2019: Certificate of Merit for Puppetry, Into The Woods
- Spring 2018: KC/ACTF Citizen Artist Award, A Seat At The Table
- Spring 2018: National Selection Committee Award for Distinguished Production of a New Work, A Seat At The Table
- Spring 2017: National Selection Committee Award for Distinguished Achievement in Video Routing, The Breath of Stars
- Spring 2015: Certificate of Merit for Collaborative Performance, Afghanistan/Wisconsin: A Verbatim Theatre Project
- Spring 2015: Certificate of Merit for Scenic Design, Man of La Mancha
- Spring 2013: National Selection Committee Award for Distinguished Achievement in Lighting Design, Ghost Bike.
- Fall 2012: Certificate of Merit for Scenic Design and Direction, Boeing Boeing.
- Spring 2012: Director, The Rail Splitter. National Selection Committee Award for Distinguished Production of a New Work.
- Spring 2011: National Selection Committee Special Commendation for Scenic Design, One Day in the Season of Rain.
- Fall 2010: National Selection Committee Special Commendation for Scenic Design, Dead Man’s Cell Phone.
- Spring 1994: Irene Ryan Individual Acting Competition National Finalist, Kennedy Center National Festival, Washington, DC.
- Fall 1993: Irene Ryan Individual Acting Competition Regional Finalist.
Non-Equity Jeff Citation Nominations, Chicago IL: Nominations for Scenic Design
- 2004: Action Movie 3, Defiant Theatre.
- 1999: Bluebeard, Defiant Theatre.
- 1997: The Mystery of Irma Vep, Defiant Theatre.
Chicago After Dark Awards, Chicago IL:
- 1999: Award for Best Ensemble, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Northlight Theatre.
University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana: Final Honors Award: in recognition of sustained interest in and contribution to the Illinois Repertory Theatre.
Rockford College, Rockford, IL: Departmental Honors.
“Greene and Greene: Master the Details,” Fine Woodworking Magazine, Taunton Press, Feb. 2013