Monday, March 19, 2007

Dorothy Darby Smith remembered

Spokane's Grande Dame of Theater, Dorothy Darby Smith, died on Friday, March 16.

Smith was the Spokane Civic Theatre’s first President of the Board when it began 60 years ago, in 1947. She acted, worked backstage and covered the box office.
She directed Barry Sullivan in *Born Yesterday* during Expo ’74 and Mercedes McCambridge in *The Glass Menagerie* the following year. She directed six productions alone of *A Christmas Carol.*
Smith’s final appearance on stage was in 1992, portraying the title role in Driving Miss Daisy.
Smith was also a drama professor at Gonzaga University.
A tireless supporter of many arts organizations in Spokane, Smith was recognized for her service in 2002 with the Spokane Arts Commission’s Individual Artist award. She continued to be an Honorary Board Member for Spokane Civic Theatre until her death.


At May 23, 2008 3:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was keeping tabs on her failing health through a mutual friend of ours. But I lost touch before she died and learned this just now. She had taught my mother back when there was still a thespians club. She was also my director/teacher in a showing of Antigone once when I was still a teenager. I remember she was short on skilled players at the time, so she turned it into a crash-course classroom. "Diction-diction-diction!" was her mantra. I remember she referred to her cast, young and old alike, as her "little chickies/chickadees." I had many-many drama instructors, but she was my last. . .and the BEST of them all. I do not say this out of mere empty; fawning respect for her position. Because what she gave to others has a tangible value and quality on stage that demonstrates her true craft versus "going through the motions" on your way to Hollywood. She was a woman of dignity, honor, and genuine substance. I grieve her passing because there are few women like that left. She was often very strict as an instructor, but very kind and loving to those who had a desire to learn. She was a gracious hostess and ran a beautiful home. I will miss her.

At October 26, 2008 11:36 PM , Blogger Sabrina Dent said...

Those are very nice comments to read; thank you for making them. DDS was my maternal grandmother, and it wasn't until her death that I really realised the role she had played for many, many years in Spokane theatre.

It's been many years since I visited Spokane, though my mother still goes back, but I have some much loved and always remembered objects from her "beautiful home" here in my home in Ireland, and it's lovely to know other people have warm memories of the house she lived in for so many years.

--Sabrina Dent

At December 18, 2009 1:56 PM , Blogger Dan said...

Dorothy was an amazing woman, always larger-than-life. I was in her class and a few shows in the mid-seventies, and she was vivacious and viscous in equal measure.

My most enduring memory of her is a technique I still use today - she had us onstage blocking either Scapino or The Merry Wives of Windsor, and she showed us how to 'find your light'. You found where to be by sensing the light on your face. It's amazing how this can affect your everyday meetings - truly showing yourself in the best light, at all times.

Thank you Dorothy, and goodbye.


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