Acting Out with PLU’s new theatre professor

Dina Longstaff
Guest Writer
longstdr@plu.edu

While trying to navigate through the sea of confused first-years rushing to find their next class, students will notice a new face in the theatre department. He is the latest addition to Pacific Lutheran University whose wardrobe “tries to make a statement.”
Kane Anderson, Visiting Associate Professor of Theatre, is both a unique character and teacher. Students in Anderson’s class take off their shoes when they enter, start the class with a five minute buffer to block out the day and then do 10 minutes of yoga to loosen up.

“I’m impressed with his style of teaching,” first-year Josie Courtney said. “He’s a really funny teacher and I love the class.”
Through his teaching Dr. Anderson strives to break actors out of their shells and help them act for themselves, not for others.

“My gift as an actor has often been seeing what other people do and bringing that out in them. I like having people come to life and showing them that there’s a transformation that happens in theatre,” Anderson said. “I want to know what you think; I want to hear your voice.”

“He wants us to look at things from different points of view, try new things and challenge [ourselves],” first-year Chuck Stern said.

Anderson hopes to push students to step outside their comfort zones by encouraging them to act in unique ways.

“He really tries to make class a safe place and always reminds us that the stakes are low, and if we mess up, so what? Life goes on,” Courtney said.

His personality seems to appeal to his co-workers as well.

“There’s a lot of laughter and costumes,” Amanda Sweger, Assistant Professor of Theatre, said. “He’s really fun but he’s all business under his friendly exterior.”

Not only is his teaching style unique, but so is his personal education. Anderson got his doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Theatre Studies, and wrote his dissertation on superheroes in performance.

“I was looking at the way superheroes are American icons and are used by different subaltern groups to try to create the new face of America,” Anderson said. “The big surprise of my career was that I didn’t think I would get a PhD.”

Before getting his PhD, Anderson went to Arizona State University for his master’s in Theatre Performance and endured “two and a half years of emotionally painful work.” However, when the committee met for his master’s they urged him to continue with his education.

“If I’m going to do a PhD, doing something for five-plus years of my life, I want to do something that I get up every day and I love to do. So I said, ‘I’ve always been a comic book fan, I want to study superheroes in performance,’” Anderson said. “I can’t believe they let me do it. I keep thinking they will call me back saying ‘You know how you got that PhD? Yeah, that’s not real.’”

His five years of research – as well as his time spent dressed as Mr. Incredible at Comic-Con – are what enabled him to write his book, “Truth, Justice, and the Performative Way.” The book is modeled after his dissertation and explores “superhero performance and the battle for social justice in 21st century America.”

This year Anderson will be directing “Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet” in the spring. The play features a professor who goes into a dream state after a series of horrific events. In this dream, she finds characters Desdemona and Juliet and tries to save them.

“I was drawn to the script because it has such strong female roles while much [of] Shakespeare is mostly about the men,” Anderson said.

This will be Anderson’s first year at PLU, and he is excited to spend it teaching a subject he has spent so many years studying.
“I’m lucky I got this job. Otherwise I’d be selling my blood,” Anderson said. “I love what I do, and I’m lucky to do it.”

Hear more from the man himself…

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