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.
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.