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Whitworth Theatre to stage Pierre Corneille's "The Illusion"

October 1, 2009
Professor of English Leonard Oakland to make special guest appearance

The Whitworth Theatre Department will present its fall production, "The Illusion," Oct. 16, 17, 23, and 24 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 18 at 2 p.m., in Cowles Memorial Auditorium on the Whitworth campus. General admission is $7; students and seniors pay $5. Tickets may be purchased online at For more information, please call (509) 777-3707.

Adapted by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner, "The Illusion" is a 17th-century tale of loss and redemption that explores the most real illusion of all – love. Nothing is as it seems in the play. An old man comes to a magician's cave desperate for news of his estranged son. The magician conjures scenes from the boy's life, but what begins as a swashbuckling romantic adventure turns to heartbreak…or does it? The play is filled with rich poetic language, ironic humor, and profound insight into the nature of love. Special guest performer Leonard Oakland, longtime professor of English at Whitworth, joins the cast as Pridamant, the bitter old man searching for his son.

"Kushner's adaptation takes a traditional tale of adventure and romance from the 17th century and explores the situations from a modern point of view, stripping away the illusion of ‘happily ever after’ while affirming the power of love and forgiveness to change our hearts and our world," says Diana Trotter, the play's director and a professor of theatre at Whitworth. "What really appeals to me about this play is that at its core, it's about the painful cost of love, and a redemption that isn’t easy or cheap."

Trotter says she has wanted to direct this play for years, but that it's very challenging because the roles are incredibly complex for young actors, the technical needs are substantial, and the role of Pridamant, the Father, needs to be played by an older adult. Trotter says she has always wanted Oakland in the role, and she was delighted he agreed to take it on.

A veteran of film and radio, Oakland is well known to Spokane audiences for his cameo appearances in such films as White Men Can’t Jump, his 20 years as producer and host of a classical music program for KPBX radio, and his frequent appearances on NPR’s popular Movies 101.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Jennifer Toulouse-Lee, theatre department program assistant, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3707 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703, or