A director’s goodbye: Retiring director presents final USCA show | Entertainment

After they ran through part of the show, cast members from USC Aiken’s next play, “Our Town,” assembled downstage during a rehearsal last week in the college’s Etherredge Center.

Director Jack Benjamin, who was watching from the house, where the audience sits, arose from his seat. He walked down to the front of the stage and looked up at the group as he calmly starting going through his list of observations and points on that he wanted the actors to work.

Benjamin also chairs USCA’s visual and performing arts department and manages the Etherredge Center as its executive director, all while being an associate professor. He joined USCA in 1986 as an assistant professor of theater and director of theater.

Among those listening intently onstage was one of Benjamin’s former students, Cliff Dyches.

Dyches, who is from Williston and plays Professor Willard, was the first to graduate from the university with a fine arts degree. It was in December of 1995, and his degree was concentrated in theater and broadcast journalism.

After he graduated, Dyches still kept in contact with Benjamin, and the two have grown to be good friends.

Dyches said sitting on that stage again, hearing Benjamin give his notes, felt like a full circle experience.

That’s mainly because, when the curtain closes on “Our Town,” it will mark the end of Benjamin’s shows with the college.

“It hasn’t set in yet. Right now, it’s normal work. … It’s like everything else. I’m trying not to look at it as ‘last,’ but it is, at the same time, so that’s kind of weird,” said Benjamin, who is retiring from USCA in June.

A reason Benjamin chose “Our Town” specifically was because he wanted to invite some of his graduated students back for his milestone production.

“It brings together people of multiple, different disciplines and ages and so forth, so, … since it’s my last show and I wanted…

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