If anyone was to direct the play, “Blithe Spirit”, it would have to be Tamara Benson. Her background qualifies her to do justice to Noel Coward’s classic, from the British accent to the setting. Having lived in London and Wales, served in the United States Army, and taught English as a professor at Kent State University, she has continued to have an interest in theater from high school to the present day.
Raised in Dover, the 1987 high school graduate is the daughter of Shirley and Johnny Espenshied. During her studies, she gave in to her interest in the theater by participating in the production of “Pygmalion” at the Little Theater of Tuscarawas County.
“What I remember most,” she said, “is Jerry Marlowe bringing us fabulous food and participating in ‘real tea’, like the ones you will find in England.”
After graduating, she enrolled in Akron University’s drama program, but after a year and a half, she decided to let the military pay for the rest of her education and spent her three years following as a private first class stationed in Colorado. His assignment was as a Russian linguist.
“That doesn’t mean I was fluent in Russian,” Benson said. “Our job was to listen to certain words like ‘bomb’ in Russian transmissions and report them. The training didn’t make you fluent.
Nonetheless, she chose Russian as her language when she returned to Kent State University on the GI Bill.
“It was not a wise choice,” she said.
With a major in English, Benson obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and discovered that she loved Shakespeare. After choosing “Seventeenth Century Women Writers” for her doctoral thesis, she moved to London and Wales to study. In London, she met her future husband, George Benson, on Facebook’s precursor, My Space. He was Welsh.
After completing the oral and written exams, she was ready to begin her dissertation when a disagreement with a counselor led her to decide not to finish and go home. This resulted in an engagement and the couple got married in 2008. The two of them have six children and six grandchildren.
In addition to teaching English at Kent State, Benson, 52, has plenty of activities in his life. She works at the Reeves Museum, where she is assistant curator, writes and directs the mystery plays and organizes the Shakespearean summer experience. Each month, she reviews a new book for the City Book Review of San Francisco.
“Anyone who knows me knows I love books,” she said. “Criticism is a good way to get more books. “
She has performed in “Trumpet in the Land”, directed the annual “Sleepy Hollow” production in the village of Schoenbrunn, worked behind the scenes at the Kent State Performing Arts Center, where she helped provide a sofa and heater for Bill Cosby, who spoke to none, served on the board and helped organize the wardrobe of the Little Theater.
Beyond that, Benson wrote and published two children’s books and performed a number of weddings. The books “The New Carriage” and “Jeeves’ Grand Adventure” are illustrated by local artist Anastasia Merritt. They are based on Benson’s experiences at the Reeves Museum and in Wales.
“When some of my students asked me if I could celebrate their wedding, I decided it would be fun, so I got a bachelor’s degree online and started doing it,” she said. declared. “Last week I married a couple in a museum, surrounded by vintage cars. The bride arrived on a forklift. I’m going to have a Halloween ceremony soon.
Benson said she always wanted to direct “Blithe Spirit”.
“I love Coward’s dry British sense of humor,” she said. “During the WWII” Blitz “in England, he went to Wales and wrote the play in Six Days. The Concept of Two Dead Wives Collaborating as Ghosts to Make Life Hard for Their Former Husband , it’s pretty funny, but when it’s presented with the right restraint it’s even funnier.I have a great cast and crew and I can’t wait to bring this production to life on stage.
“Blithe Spirit” will open on Friday October 8 at the Little Theater and continue its weekends until the last morning of Sunday, October 24.