Dennis Smith

Dennis Smith
Dennis Smith

Theatre Arts professor emeritus Dennis Smith has directed more than 30 plays during his 28-year career at Southern Oregon University. Currently he is directing Tony Kushner’s “The Illusion,” based loosely on the play “L’Illusion Comique” by the 17th-century playwright Pierre Corneille. It’s the story of a father who enlists a magician to search for his long-lost son. The play is filled with visions, transformations, time shifts and twists of fate. I visited with Smith at his office in the Theatre Arts Department one afternoon.

EH: Tell me about the qualities of the adaptation.

DS: The style is very contemporary. Tony Kushner has made the characters very accessible, highly articulate and in tune with our contemporary ears.

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Chris Sackett

Chris Sackett
Chris Sackett

Southern Oregon University Theatre Arts Professor Chris Sackett is directing “Avenue Q,” a Tony Award-winning musical that opens Thursday, May 16, at SOU’s Center Stage Theatre. Sackett and I walked to the Stevenson Union on the SOU campus to discuss “Avenue Q.”

CS: It’s smart; it’s fun. It’s rife with political satire and irony; that’s part of the attraction of the play. The humor at times is extremely biting; sometimes it is coarse; but it all holds together pretty well. Overall, it’s really smart how they’ve taken this irreverent approach to a deep reverence for the human condition, and how we might pragmatically have a greater scope of tolerance for our fellows.

EH: What’s the message of “Avenue Q”?

CS: Get over self-pity; quit thinking about yourself, and get engaged with life.

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