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Theatre professor David Smith leaves legacy with in-the-round production of King Lear

March 25, 2012 | Valorie Coleman

The Evangel University acclaimed production of King Lear, which was presented in March 2012 with rave reviews, was the culmination of more than two years of planning. David Smith, associate professor of drama, had a vision not only for the message of the play, but also for the setting.

“Before the Fine Arts Center was built, I designed this theatre so we could perform in-the-round,” says Smith.

For  months, he built a level area to bridge the gap between the original stage and the stadium seats, creating one massive level stage for “Shakespeare-in-the-round.”

The work involved in pulling off the production reflects Smith’s devoted approach to teaching. “It is important for students to learn all aspects of theater production, from acting and directing to building sets. This is academic theater. I want my kids to know everything,” he says.

When the stage was disassembled, all the pieces were labeled and stored for future use. Smith drew detailed templates and created a video of how the stage was put together.

The effort Smith put into the production included more than stage construction, however.

Along with directing, Smith also portrayed the lead character, King Lear.

The king is a man whose last days are filled with preparations to leave his legacy and his kingdom to his daughters.

Smith — now in the latter years of his teaching career — can relate. He also is preparing to leave a legacy for the students of Evangel University.

“Young people these days do not care what you tell them, you have to show them,” he said. “It was important for me to play this role and  show them how it’s done.”

Alumna Tabitha (Nissley ’90) Plake says she was on the edge of her seat during the production. “It was masterfully done,” she says. “The last time I got to be in a theatre in the round, it was up in Lincolnshire, Illinois. I know it was a ton of hard work for Evangel to do this. Very impressive. The performance was jaw dropping.”

By Valorie Coleman, assistant director of Public Relations

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