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GONZAGA UNIVERSITY NEWS FEATURE
By Kelly Birch
|GU Theatre's Brian Russo Engaged, Engaging|
It has been only six months since Brian C. Russo moved to Spokane to teach theatre as an associate professor at Gonzaga University, but already he is acting in a movie being filmed in this area and will open his first full-length play at Gonzaga.
At Gonzaga, Russo is directing Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which runs from April 11-15, and he will play Duke in The Holidays, a Lifetime original feature film scheduled to air around Thanksgiving.
The film, starring Dave Coulier of “Full House,” is a family Christmas tale about a loveable conman who is in trouble with Duke, a loan shark. Coulier’s character, whose last name is Holiday, has been disowned by his own wealthy family, which has offered him money on the condition that he finds a family. Being a conman, Holiday fakes a family by pretending to adopt two children and finding a woman to pose as his wife.
It is no surprise that Russo already is fully immersed in both Gonzaga and Spokane. The actor, professor and director went around the world and back before settling into the Zag lifestyle. He received his master of fine arts degree from the University of Arizona and a doctoral degree from the University of Cincinnati. Two years ago, he lived in Calcutta, India, teaching theatre as a Fulbright scholar, and last year he was a visiting professor at the University of Lodz in Poland. Just weeks before assuming his position at Gonzaga, Russo was back in Calcutta directing a play at the request of the U.S. Department of State.
Russo’s experience as a Fulbright scholar was “wonderful,” he said, adding that he taught theatre and directed students at the university level, and taught theatre workshops to elementary students.
And why did this man of international intrigue choose Gonzaga?
“Gonzaga seemed to have a good atmosphere,” he said, reflecting on his attraction to the positive relationships within the GU community.
In the midst of teaching theatre in three countries and making strides in his acting career, Russo hopes to inspire Gonzaga students to pursue their own dramatic careers.
“I’m trying to get students to think that acting is something you can do,” he says, explaining that many students view drama as solely a hobby — a perspective he would like to change. “The students show a lot of potential.”
Russo also would like to improve and expand the GU theatre program. “My main goal for the theatre program is to offer our students a very strong foundation in the fields of acting and directing,” he said.
The GU theatre students are aware of their good fortune at getting to work with Russo.
Russo also hopes to see a packed house on April 11: “It’s very much my desire that the theatre and performing arts gain the same kind of excitement that the basketball team has.”