Dr. Andrew Dell’Olio, professor of philosophy, is returning to the Hope College stage in the theatre department’s next production Smokefall. The play, by Grand Rapids-native Noah Haidle, will appear on the DeWitt Studio Theatre stage on Friday and Saturday, October 11 and 12, and Thursday through Saturday, October 17 to 19 at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, October 13, there will be a free matinee of Smokefall’s at 2 p.m.
Through magical realism, the play follows four generations of an eccentric family in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The piece explores 70-years worth of familial drama in a dark yet also comedic light. The Hope Theatre Department is thrilled to have Professor Dell’Olio back on stage playing both the Colonel and Johnny in the upcoming production.
Dell’Olio is no stranger to acting. “I have been active in local community theatre, including the Holland Civic Theatre and the semi-professional company, Exit Left Theatre, whose co-artistic director is Hope’s own Richard Perez. I have been involved previously in a few Hope Theatre productions, including Big Love (2009), directed by Daina [Robins], and Stage Door (2013), directed by John Tammi,” he explained.
Professor Dell’Olio is able to use acting as a creative outlet that “is not always available in the world of academic philosophy,” he explains. Hope Theatre is lucky to have this willing and collaborative actor from the philosophy department.
“I was teaching Oedipus Rex in my Cultural Heritage I class the other day and as we discussed Oedipus’s failed attempt to avoid his fate, I kept hearing in my head a line from the play that my character [in Smokefall] says: ‘You can’t outrun a lineage!’” — Prof. Andrew Dell’Olio
Through these theatre experiences, Dell’Olio has been able to bring excitement and new lines of communication into the classroom that he might not otherwise have experienced. He has also found that Smokefall has snuck its way into his classroom as he compares the traits of his characters to those of the Greek classics.
“I was teaching Oedipus Rex in my Cultural Heritage I class the other day and as we discussed Oedipus’s failed attempt to avoid his fate, I kept hearing in my head a line from the play that my character [in Smokefall] says: ‘You can’t outrun a lineage!’” His experience with Smokefall has helped him create “contemporary relevance to age-old ideas” with the texts in his classes.
Smokefall is directed by Professor Daina Robins. It touches on themes of familial bonds, mortality, and the human condition in a serious yet whimsical way. Dell’Olio hopes that the audience is able to come away from the production with the thoughts that the “brief nature of our existence is to be cherished despite the brokenness, despite the suffering; to appreciate, in the words of playwright, Noah Haidle, ‘that the greatest possible act of courage is to love.’ And that it is through such love that our lives are ultimately redeemed.”
The cast also includes junior Maxwell Lam of Holland; sophomore Ellyn Purnell of Zeeland; freshman Katy Smith of Plymouth, Indiana; and freshman Adam Chamness of Holland.
Tickets are $10 for regular admission; $7 for senior citizens and Hope faculty and staff; and free for Hope College students and students ages 18 and under. Tickets are available at the Events and Conferences Office located in downtown Holland in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center (100 E. Eighth St.).