Who is Chris Clark


The Ballad of Christopher Layton Clark: July 30, 1972 – June 5, 2020

Christopher Layton Clark (who is currently haunting you) was a loving husband, father of five, a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a Leo. All of these things were important to him.

Christopher is the fourth of the nine Clark children of Stephen and Cindy Clark. Chris balanced the family of hunters and sports enthusiasts with his love of music and the arts. As a boy he played the piano, created haunted houses, trampoline routines, Boy Scout skits, plays, and collected siblings, cousins, and neighbors to film his many compelling home movies. He made friends everywhere he went. After moving him to different seats several times, an exasperated teacher asked why he didn’t just stop talking. Chris replied “I thought you wanted me to make new friends!”

Christopher would want it mentioned he was the Prom King and voted “Most Preferred” at Provo High Class of ‘90. And that his performance at Provo High as the King in The King and I earned him an acting scholarship to Brigham Young University.

As a young man, Christopher served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Finland. He came home with a love for Scandinavia and had many experiences that shaped the way he lived and served for the rest of his life. He taught the Gospel and made friends, loved the Finnish people, and gained some of his most entertaining stories as well as the ability to read palms.

Christopher continued his studies at BYU majoring in English (because it was more practical than theater) and auditioned for the English Society’s The Mysteries: Creation, a theatrical production where he was cast as Satan. There he met Lisa Valentine who was cast as a chicken on Noah’s Ark. Tale as old as time! Chris wooed her with his storytelling, intelligence, talent, charm, faith, rugged good looks and laughing. So much laughing. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple June 3, 1995.

Christopher was always busy with multiple jobs, and worked very hard to support his growing family with a career in theater. After earning his Bachelor of Arts in English and climbing the ladder at Barnes and Noble, he and Lisa took a risk and moved to England and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Directing Shakespeare at the University of Exeter, Devonshire, England, graduating with distinction. He went on to earn a PhD in Education Leadership/Theater at BYU while teaching full-time at Utah Valley University, going on to earn tenure as an Assistant Professor, become Chair of the Theater Department, and then achieve Full Professor.

Additionally, Christopher trained with The Steppenwolf School actor’s training in Chicago, Viewpoints movement training, Second City improvisational training, The Globe Theatre, London, The Royal Shakespeare Company, and many others. He wrote A Marrying Man, an original Shakespearean pastiche as well as adaptations of Macbeth, She Stoops to Conquer, Nosferatu, Hamlet, and Richard III.

He has had success as an actor for stage and film, but his love for directing is where he made his biggest impact and had his greatest creative success. He directed too many plays to list here, but each work of art made an impact in its own way.

Christopher was also a man of recognition and distinction. He was awarded the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Distinguished Directing Award, 2009, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Play Choice (She Stoops to Conquer, 2011 and Nosferatu, 2009). He was Utah Valley University Faculty Scholar of the Year, 2009, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Scene Choice twice, Deseret News “Best of Theater” Award: 2005, 2006, and 2010. Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Meritorious Achievemen In Playwriting Award (A Marrying Man, 2006) Steppenwolf School Acting Scholarship, 2005. UVSC Adjunct Professor of the Year, 2005, 2003, Edwin Rudd Scholarship, University of Exeter 2002. Just to name a few.

Christopher’s career included service. He was the director of the BYU Young Company Shakespeare Troupe, casting, directing and adapting 50 minute Shakespeare scripts for performance in elementary schools. He served on the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region VIII and a Festival respondent, and Circuit Seven Coordinator, 2009-2011. He was a guest lecturer all over the world, traveling and speaking at conferences about Shakespeare and Viewpoints. He came home to serve his congregation in Bishoprics, Scout camps, and Young Men Activities and meetings.

Christopher was the Director of the UVU Theatre Study Abroad Program, a program he loved which fueled his passion for directing theater. It also gave him an opportunity to live in London, his favorite place in the world, for one month out of the year. It was here that he saw the best theater in the world and filled his head with inspiration and ideas that he brought back home.

Christopher’s career was all about people; about the students and co-creators in the creative arts. His legacy is the legacy of all these actors, producers, directors, and creatives going out into the world and creating art with the tools and education and passion that they learned from Chris. On the wall in his office opposite his desk were the words “All is Love.” He put it there to remind himself that whether as a chair, a director, teacher, colleague, friend, or student, that no problem,no frustration was more important than the person in front of him, who was a child of God, a friend.

But even in face of great career success and accolades Christopher was so knocked out to see that his children inherited the best in him and more. He would happily admit Miles’ sense of humor was smarter than his; he was floored by Owen’s entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic; so proud of Phoebe’s interest in science and her authentic French accent; jealous of Hugh’s acting instincts in Romeo and Juliet and his filmmaking capabilities; and Margaret’s love of animals, as well as her love for the wacky, only rivaled by his own. He talked about his kids all the time. He is excited and proud of who they are.

Christopher was a fun father; he sang to his kids and got them to do funny lip syncs with him (which he took very seriously). He constantly introduced them to different kinds of music and took them to concerts and movies and plays to show them all the beautiful things in life. He encouraged his kids to find their own creative pursuits and expressions, and encouraged them to work hard and help their mother. He guided them with wisdom from his experience and told funny stories—the funniest stories. He gave them priesthood blessings, and taught them the Gospel of Christ by example and pretending he was the Apostle Paul on screen (and off). He insisted on yearly family vacations, quiet Sundays, a beautiful green lawn.

Christopher endured to the end with hope, optimism, laughter, and faith. He leaves family and friends who are forever changed by the love he freely expressed and gave, and inspired by the art they created together. As Zeus said in the extraordinary musical Xanadu, “That is the greatest achievement any of you might hope for: to love someone else and to create art.”

Christopher passed away on June 5, 2020 as a result of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He spent his final weeks planning two different theatrical productions, writing a script, leaving joke reviews on Yelp “as a handicapped person,” acting as his kids’ self- proclaimed Seminary and Theater teacher, and planning an elaborate surprise for his wife in time for their 25th wedding anniversary.

He was undoubtedly met on the other side by loved ones, ancestors, and answers to all the conspiracies he long suspected.

Due to Covid-19, the funeral will be immediate family only, but will be live streamed Thursday at 11am MST. Visitation is by invitation only. The link to the viewing of Christopher Clark’s funeral is https://youtu.be/IB7JWYr_Zog . This is a YouTube channel.

Lisa would love to collect all the stories, memories, tributes, photos, and videos to pass on to her children and grandchildren. Please send yours, no matter how big or small to chrisclarkmemories@gmail.com.