OU Distinguished Professor Publishes Book of Plays

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Charles Smith is a Distinguished Professor of Theater at Ohio University.

Smith attained the special designation, in part, because of his abilities as a playwright. Now five of his award-winning plays are being published in a new book.

“There are three plays in there that have been published before and that have been produced extensively,” said Smith.

The book, called The Gospel According to James and Other Plays, is being published by Ohio University Press.

Smith wrote a play, Free Man of Color, for the bicentennial celebration of Ohio University.

“It’s about John Newton Templeton, the first black man to go to Ohio University, 60 years before the end of slavery,” said Smith.

The plays in the book have been produced by professional theater companies across the country and abroad, and four of them are based on historical people and events.

“I take historical events, historical people, and use that as a vehicle to explore contemporary issues on race, perceptions of race, and politics here in America,” Smith said. “It’s sort of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I use it to put an audience at ease.”

Smith said he uses his plays to address more difficult issues that may be uncomfortable to talk about head on.

Smith is also a member of the Playwrights Ensemble of the Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago.