The Communicator

Kent Thompson draws on his past to chart the Denver Center Theatre Company's future.

Thompson has also attended a handful of shows in other Denver theaters. After seeing Eric Sandvold's bravura performance as a business manager starstruck by his baseball-player client in Take Me Outat Curious, Thompson gave him a role in A Flea in Her Ear.

A few years ago, Thompson directed a 1948 play called A Lesson Before Dying, about a young black man unjustly sentenced to death. As he sees it, the question the play explores is whether the protagonist will be able to walk to his death like a man, this being important in his community. An instructor the prisoner loathed in elementary schools is chosen as his teacher.

"By the second act, you realize this young man is not going to live," says Thompson. "Something visceral happens. I remember you could hear people start crying, and they would cry at different places. There's something about that that's what theater is all about. The audience has bought into the story, into the person, to the degree that it matters what happens next on the stage. It's at the heart of why live theater works in a way that the movies and television can rarely hope to. There's some kind of primal human connection to that kind of storytelling."

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