Kent closes the curtain at La Verne

Steven Kent, director of theater, presented “My Last Lecture: Fellow Travelers on the Journey So Far,” Tuesday in the President’s Dining Room. Kent, who will retire this academic year, recapped his life in the theater, on the road directing and his activist work for AIDS. He is passionate about social and political activism in theater. Kent currently works with Carpetbag Theatre, A Travelling Jewish Theatre and is the resident stage director of the Junebug Project. / photo by Annette Paulson
Steven Kent, director of theater, presented “My Last Lecture: Fellow Travelers on the Journey So Far,” Tuesday in the President’s Dining Room. Kent, who will retire this academic year, recapped his life in the theater, on the road directing and his activist work for AIDS. He is passionate about social and political activism in theater. Kent currently works with Carpetbag Theatre, A Travelling Jewish Theatre and is the resident stage director of the Junebug Project. / photo by Annette Paulson

Alexandra Felton
Staff Writer

Steven Kent, director of theater, gave students, faculty and community members his last “storytelling” rendition of the theatrical and educational work he has done throughout his life Tuesday in the President’s Dining Room.

The crowd was filled with more than 50 people with backpacks and cameras ready to hear what Kent had to say about his journey through his professional and spiritual life as he prepares for retirement. Al Clark, professor of humanities, gave introduced Kent.

David Flaten, professor of theater arts, as well as other faculty members like Sean Dillon, associate professor of theater arts, and Jay Jones, professor of biology and biochemistry, supported Kent throughout his lecture, contributing laughs or comments about his work or the people in his life that have effected him.

Kent prefaced before the lecture about the purpose he found within live theater for social change.

“All political and artistic communal work is done by relationships,” Kent said. “Theater groups can change and go, but there are relationships that you want to grow from.”

He wanted to make sure his audience knew that making relationships and working with people in an artistic medium that strove for social change is the key to a successful life.

Kent was born and raised in Deadwood, South Dakota, a mining town with 3,700 residents and little to no diversity.

Realizing this was not where he wanted to live all his life, he attended college at the University of Southern California to follow his passion in Theology and preaching Methodism.

When he found out that the theology group he was a part of at USC was solely Protestant with no religious diversity, he became disillusioned with organized religion.

Fortunately for Kent, living in Los Angeles changed his world for the better, because he was put in situations where he learned about social conflicts and change-makers like the Watts Riots by being in the middle of the city during their exercises.

He found during this time that he was not called to religion anymore.

As time passed, he expanded his theatrical resume by going to Europe and worked for places like the Edinburgh Theater.

He also taught theater in multiple states and colleges like at UC Santa Cruz, in the state of Tennessee and many other places.

Theater for social and political activism was his passion after he was asked to work on a set-piece and loved the experiences he had with the people of the theater.

He learned that theater was where he was the most passionate.

After naming off almost all of the shows that he has directed and people he has met around the world, he made sure to let the audience know that even though he is retiring from teaching, he will miss it and will not stop being productive with his time when he retires.

Shavonne Rogers, junior communications major and theater minor, attended the event for Kent and admires the work that he has done outside of the University of La Verne.

“He was a great speaker,” Rogers said.

Wayne Keller, senior theater major, has had approximately five classes with Professor Kent and knows that what he has learned from Kent will help him in his future theatrical endeavors.

“I will miss him,” Keller said. “He really makes you think.”

Kent concluded his lecture by advising students and faculty on the phrase “don’t say no.”

“If someone wants you to do something new, then say yes. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I said no to new opportunities,” Kent said.

Alexandra Felton can be reached at alexandra.felton@laverne.edu.

Alexandra Felton
Annette Paulson

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