Hollywood actress Olympia Dukakis to share a prologue with students and community

Kevin Landis, director of the Theatreworks program, hosts a series of lectures, also known as prologues.
Austin Chasse | The Scribe
Nov. 16, 2015

April Wefler
[email protected]

Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis is coming to UCCS.

Dukakis, who won for her supporting role in the 1998 film, “Moonstruck” and is well-known for “Steel Magnolias,” will speak on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. in Berger Hall, as part of the Prologue series.

The talk will consist of a 45-minute interview and a following Q-and-A with the audience.

Kevin Landis, director and assistant professor of the VAPA theater program, said Dukakis will be leaving Colorado Springs to perform a one-woman show on the West Coast.

“She’s got a lot to say. I mean, Olympia started as a great theater artist, still is,” he said. “She’s 84 years old, and she’s still doing onewoman shows, I mean, she’s incredible.”

Landis said he asked Tina Packer, a mutual friend, if she could call Dukakis about giving a Prologue.

“Olympia said, ‘yeah, sure, have him call me.’ It’s sometimes as easy as that. Good people in the arts, good people in academia, want to be helpful,” Landis said.

“Sometimes there’s this fear of approaching people because what, she has an Oscar? So what? She’s a teacher. She wants to spread what she knows,” he said.

Landis created the Prologue series in 2010 as a way to connect UCCS students and the Colorado Springs community with important people in national and regional theater.

“I don’t want to create a sense with Prologue that art and theater specifically is elitist and just based in New York or Chicago. Some of the greatest, richest, most wonderful things that are happening in theater today are happening at the regional level,” Landis said.

“What I want is a conversation in some ways between New York and Colorado Springs,” he said.

Landis said the Prologues are essentially a conversation between people interested in the arts and academia.

“When I was coming up with a name for the series – Prologue’s great, I love it, but one of the things we were banding about was just calling it Theater Conversations, because that’s what it is,” Landis said.

There are three different formats for Prologues: the interview, lecture or workshops. Landis said that when a famous person is featured in a Prologue, such as Dukakis, playwright Paula Vogel or actor Brian Dennehy, it is typically in an interview format.

“It’ll be me and that person on stage, and I’ll throw questions and hopefully let the person do most of the talking. And then we turn it over for questions from the audience and the audience always gets an opportunity to ask what they want,” Landis said.

If the Prologue is given by a professor, it’s either as a lecture or workshop. Packer, Shakespearean actress, playwright and founding artistic director of Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Mass., did a workshop with theater students.

Future Prologues include a roundtable discussion with locals in December, Broadway choreographer Larry Keigwin in January and actor John Douglas Thompson in February.

Landis spoke to the importance of the Prologues.

“We need to have more conversations about art, especially as regional criticism is dying. We don’t have much criticism in local newspapers; we don’t really have any local newspapers anymore,” Landis said.

“And so there’s no intellectual, rigorous discourse about theater – I shouldn’t say there’s none; there’s not enough,” he said.

Landis said 200 to 300 people regularly attend the talks. Although the Prologues are free, he recommended that students and the community reserve tickets.

At press time, 400 tickets were given away for the Prologue.

The Lowdown
What: Olympia Dukakis Prologue
Where: Berger Hall
When: Nov. 17, 6 p.m.
How much: Free, but reserve tickets