The Many Faces of Mark Efinger

He was captain of the wrestling team. He wore ridiculously shaggy hair. And he remembers Instructor in Theatre Bruce Bacon with a black, curly afro. Instructor in Theatre Mark Efinger graduated from Andover in 1974. He still recalls his father’s (also an Andover alumnus) parting advice: “He said, first of all, remember that you don’t have to love it – and you can come home if you want.” Mr. Efinger continued, “The next thing he said was yeah, the knowledge of the world is in the library and the courses and the catalogues and all the other aspects of the school, but the real education is going to be in the kids that you meet, the faculty that you interact with, and the activities that you get involved with. Get out of your dorm and get involved, and if you do that, you’ll get out of it what it’s meant to be.” Mr. Efinger, asked by The Phillipian about his life before Andover, began with a description of his father: a tough New York City kid with a rough past who boxed to stay alive and ran to train for fights. As chance would have it, he became a great runner and wanted to go to Yale. Yale told him he had promise, but that he could not handle the work there. They gave him a list of prep schools in alphabetical order. And thus began his Andover journey. This is more than a narrative for Mr. Efinger – it embodies many of the forces that have and continue to compel him through life. At Andover, Mr. Efinger took to his father’s advice immediately, becoming involved in theatre, wrestling and cross-country. Mr. Efinger described his adolescent self as the “132 pound emaciated and skinnied out nowhere guy.” His father’s advice proved true, as Mr. Efinger found that what he appreciated most about PA was participating in Varsity sports and being a member of a main stage production every term. Mr. Efinger decided he wanted to go to Middlebury after Andover. About his choice, he remembered, “People said to me, ‘well what would you do that for? [It’s] four more years of Andover.’ And I said, ‘Sign me up. Andover without the rules? What could be better?’” At Middlebury, Mr. Efinger majored in Theatre and English, and, in the absence of a wrestling program, became a major runner. Tight on money, Mr. Efinger joined Army ROTC to pay for school. After graduation, he spent a couple of years working with nuclear weapons in the army. With the right luck and connections, Mr. Efinger later found himself running a Theatre Program for the US Army in Kaiserslautern, Germany. It was in there that Mr. Efinger met his wife, Cindy – now Andover’s Director of Student Activities. Mr. Efinger described how they met: “It was a production of Oklahoma. Cindy was the good-looking blonde in the girls’ chorus and I said to myself, ‘that looks like something I ought to get involved in.’” After his stint in the army, Mr. Efinger went to work as a pharmaceutical representative. Before long, years had passed and the Efinger family settled in Park City, Utah with a couple of little kids and a stable income.  Yet Mr. Efinger still felt that he wanted more. “I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. I didn’t want my boss’ job for the first time,” he said. When Ms. Efinger asked him what he wanted to do, Mr. Efinger found himself looking back to theatre. However, he faced a dilemma; he needed a way to do theatre that would afford him enough stability to raise a family. He eventually realized that teaching was it, and found his way back to Andover. Before he could teach, however, he needed to go back to school for three years to earn an advanced degree. Recounting his decision, Mr. Efinger described how Ms. Efinger said, “’If that’s what you want to do with your life, do it. You’re not going to get any younger. I can feed the family for three years, if you’ve got to go back to grad school. Do it.’ So the real hero of the story is Cindy.” Three years later, just as Mr. Efinger was finishing graduate school, Andover just so happened to need a Theatre Department chair. “It was like getting hit with a magic wand to go out and play…I’ve been playing ever since,” he said. On the issue of retirement, Mr. Efinger said, “Why work like a dog for the best years of your life so you can pant for five before you die? My theory on retirement is if you can figure out a way to do what you really love doing, you should keep on doing it until you’re done doing it. Right now, I’m really enjoying where I am and what I’m doing, so I guess I’ll keep on doing it.” Mr. Efinger teaches Theater 200 and English 311. He also directs many theatre productions and coaches wrestling.